Have you ever wanted to respond to a conflict at work through uncivilized means on the person who makes your work life miserable? I have to admit, I have. Many times. Personality problems and conflict are a given when you’re dealing with people. How we respond to relational conflict determines our ability to be a team player at work. Our response to conflict contributes to either a toxic work environment or a healthy work environment.
Many of us need to develop the ability to respond to conflict in a gospel-centered way. We are called to be peacemakers, to be humble, and to treat others the way we want to be treated. Demonstrating Biblical virtues because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of how we feel, has the power to positively influence our relationships.
It’s helpful to gain understanding as to why an annoying or mean-spirited co-worker might behave as they do; it helps bring a different perspective to the situation. This does not excuse their behavior, however, it can offer some understanding. When we better understand someone, it changes our perception of them.
Perspective can change our thinking and our behavior.
A conflict can simply start with someone who’s just having a bad day or is experiencing a personal crisis at home. We should always give people the benefit of the doubt. Taking this into consideration, here are some tried and true ways to respond to conflict:
- Don’t take anything personally- avoid taking offense at all costs.
- Kill them with kindness. This kind of reaction disarms them completely. It catches people off-guard because they will be expecting you to bite back when they are acting badly.
- If someone yells at you, don’t match their voice level, keep your voice at a normal speaking level and their voice level will begin to match yours. This too disarms them.
- Don’t let your emotions lead you to actions you’ll regret later. At work, you are viewed as a professional; learn to manage your emotions. “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Proverbs 25:28
- Apologize even if you think you might be right- or agree to disagree. A lot of times, the rightness or wrongness of a situation has little to do with the job and more to do with our egos. As believers, we are called to follow Christ’s example; reconciliation is central to our faith.
- Choose your battles wisely, getting into a conflict at work is not advantageous to your employment… or your reputation. Don’t get bogged down with lesser things. If it’s a battle worth choosing, take it up later when everyone is cooled off, or speak with your supervisor for advice.
- Conflict is a perfect time to practice putting God’s Word to work, “We should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” James 1:19
- Stay focused on the project you’re working on and don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Stay focused on what really matters and let the rest of it go.
In addition: If someone’s poor behavior is repeatedly creating an obstacle or an issue on the job, it may be necessary to set appropriate boundaries. But that’s another subject entirely.
Today, let’s strive to respond to conflict at work in a godly way and become the team player God intended us to be in the workplace.
Who do you need to respond to in a Christ-centered way next time a conflict ignites at work?