If you’ve been to a couple of office parties, you’ve probably heard the management refer to the company as a “family”. As workplace cultures evolve, this networking cliché is becoming more true, but in unexpected ways. If for nothing else but Dhaka traffic, we end up spending way more time with our colleagues than our own families and other friends. And as with any family situation, familiarity eventually breeds conflict. Even the most well-meaning co-workers may unintentionally cause or experience resentment, which eventually leads to a toxic environment. Here are four ways to stop the dysfunction before it gets out of hand.
If someone’s having a bad day, and choosing to bring that to work, steer clear of that person, particularly if you’re not in the best mood yourself. While it’s only natural to feel concerned about a friend’s problems, getting involved in the other person’s negative vibes will only drag you down. Express your sympathy and carry on with work. It might seem cold at the time, but will work better for all parties involved in the long run.
Sometimes the difficult conversation is unavoidable – particularly when mediating, or engaging in problem-solving, or evaluations. It is particularly important to ground oneself emotionally, and get into the discussion only after one is sure of one’s own feelings and stance on the matter. Otherwise, it is all too easy to get carried over by someone else’s negativity. Have an open mind, but keep your guard up.
If you’re the one struggling with negative emotions, remove yourself from the social situation to get your feelings in check. If you’re a manager who has to deal with a subordinate’s issues, give your co-worker a timeout to sort out the problems instead of meddling. Sometimes, stepping away from the situation and cooling off can achieve a lot more than hours of complaints and discussions can.
Look at the bright side
No matter what the industry, office culture everywhere comes with its set of problems. How you approach a roadblock can go a long way towards your sanity, and the well-being of your team and business. If you’re faced with a challenge, try to look at it in a positive light, and think about the benefits. You’ll feel a lot better, and you might even surprise yourself with what you can accomplish.