How to Create a More Positive Workplace: Difficult Situations

I conducted a virtual workshop this past fall on creating a more positive workplace. The insights of the thoughtful and engaged participants were so phenomenal that I have been sharing highlights from the program through a series of blogs. There was one detailing what contributes to an ideal workplace, and another on building connections. We then advanced to handling disagreements, discussing how to respond appropriately, how to channel conflict to find common ground and build trust, and some helpful phrases to use in conversations

Here are some of the take-aways from one of our discussions about handling conflict, focusing on responding appropriately to difficult situations: 

  • Assume the positive! Assume that no one intentionally pushes any buttons.
  • If you are one of the very few intentional button pushers, PLEASE STOP! No action by another person permits you to resort to poor professional behavior, and your attitude is undoubtedly destroying trust.  
  • When you are in a difficult situation — like someone is yelling at you, calling you names, or being mean — assume that only YOUR RESPONSE is being videotaped. Would it be okay to share the video with your clients, children, parents, etc.? Are you being a role model?
  • Once a colleague, or a family member for that matter, indicates that they need to take a break from the discussion, it’s impossible to have a productive dialogue. Both parties need to stop and re-engage at a later time.  
  • The amount of time to wait before coming back to a difficult conversation is different for each of us and depends on the specific situation. If you wait longer than 24 hours, you may appear dismissive, lacking respect, and irresponsible with the relationship. If you need more time, convey the honest reason and the desired timeframe.

Expect outstanding work from yourself and from your colleagues, but be very gracious and kind when that doesn’t happen. Always take the high road. It’s possible that someone is videotaping you!

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