How to Squash Workplace Beef

Some sort of drama is bound to arise whenever a group of people spends a lot of time together. Think back to your high school days – you were probably privy to gossip and emotional disarray that ran rampant through the hallways, even if you weren’t personally involved.

However, the truth is that drama is not limited to just teenagers. Workplace drama is a real problem at many companies, but leaders sometimes have a tendency to scoff at or simply ignore the drama. With much work to be done, it can be easy to continue under the assumption that everything will work itself out.

This mentality can be just as damaging to office dynamics and workplace culture as the actual drama itself.  Everyone at your company is a professional, but that doesn’t mean everyone at your company is always going to act professionally.  So, you need to make sure that your managers are well-equipped to identify, quell, and implement measures to prevent drama.

Disagreements and conflict can often result in hurt feelings, which can lead to relationships dissolving if the root of the problem is not addressed quickly.  Relying on people not involved in the argument to determine what actually started a problem can be counterproductive and inefficient.  Depending on who you talk to, you might get multiple versions of a story.  That’s why it’s best to not beat around the bush — find the people who have beef, and get them in the same room with each other and a neutral third party, if needed, away from the ‘battleground’ that is the office floor.

Your managers should understand that the one of the most crucial parts of squashing an issue between employees is to remain neutral.  This can be trying for any mediator, especially when there is one person who is obviously the guilty instigator of the drama.

Many people will only resort to apologizing or acknowledging wrongdoing when there is considerable external pressure on them to do so. This attitude can be toxic within a workplace setting, so it can be useful for managers to stress the importance of having empathy for colleagues.

Even the most empathetic people can get caught up in the moment and say hurtful things.  The best way for employees to address this is by taking a moment to reflect on the situation and try to understand the other person’s perspective.  And, if an apology is appropriate, it should be given.  The incorrect –– yet all too common — way of handling conflict in the moment is to double down on an insult or hurtful comment, thus making the situation even worse, and potentially head into territory where it can be very difficult to be forgiven.  Apologizing is difficult, but it is necessary to sometimes take a hit to the ego in order for positive vibes to be restored.

You wouldn’t ignore a major budgetary issue that is problematic in your workplace, so don’t ignore drama issues.  Take them seriously, and understand how to stop the drama before it spreads like wildfire.

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