There are many reasons why conflicts occur in the workplace. Even the most enlightened among us might actually be the source of some of it. How do we start off our day? What outside influences do we allow to get into our psyche? We can, inadvertently, bring our morning edginess into the office along with our low tolerance for disagreement or opposition.
I remember one cold, rainy autumn morning last year—I hadn’t slept great the night before. The town had decided it would start a construction project outside my window at 6 am. Facing me at the office was a mountain of paper work that had to get done and a big meeting with a new client who promised to bring tons of demands. OK, client demands come with the territory. But then my electricity went out in the middle of a shower and my office manager called to let me know her daughter was very sick and she would be out for the rest of the week. My clock alarm wouldn’t shut up. By this time, I had amassed a nice headache. I was ready for a conflict—not good for anyone. (By the way, I don’t recommend checking emails first thing in the morning either. Spam will annoy you, urgent messages will stress you, and being reminded of something you didn’t finish yet will give you guilt.) In the end, everything worked out OK that day and I didn’t have to take an aspirin. Thank God for counting to ten and taking a deep breath! But a bad day is a common reality that we all have to deal with at some time—but how we choose to allow it to affect our work also affects everyone around us.
When conflict happens, morale gets lowered and absenteeism goes up—undermining your creativity and productivity. But all conflict is not destructive. Sometimes it can be a sign of commitment to a cause or a passion about something positive. There can be a silver lining around every conflict when we understand what it is and how to turn it around.