By: Kent Sanders, writer, professor, and creative coach at
Relationships are the glue that holds society together. No matter if you work for an organization, or if you are an entrepreneur or freelancer, you still have to deal with people. If we’re going to succeed in our families, work, and creative lives, we must know how to relate well with people.
However, sometimes things go south and relationships start to crumble. It might be a firing, layoff, controversial leadership decision, or some other event that sets you emotionally on edge. When this happens, it’s easy to fly off the handle and do something you’ll later regret. I’ve been guilty of this, and maybe you have as well.
In this post, I’ll share five tips that will help you avoid workplace drama that so often derails careers and ruins relationships.
1. Let people work out their own issues.
I’ll be honest: I’m a “fixer.” When I see two people in conflict, my first impulse is to help them fix the problem.
However, you have to be careful when it comes to interpersonal conflict. It’s easy to take sides or let others talk us into joining their personal crusade.
The more involved you get in a battle, the greater the chance you’ll get hit with shrapnel. Unless you are their supervisor, or you’re directly involved in the conflict, it’s usually best to let other people work out their own issues.
2. Talk to people in person instead of sending an email.
Email is convenient, but it’s also easy to misunderstand someone in writing. This is especially important when it comes to sensitive or controversial issues.
When things are going badly at work and you need to address a problem, talk to people in person if possible. If not, do the next best thing and call them on Skype or the phone. It will clear up a lot of potential misunderstandings.
3. Never publicly criticize your employer.
When Jay Leno was on the Tonight Show, he constantly took jabs at NBC, his employer. That may work for a comedian, but it doesn’t work for the rest of us.
When you’re involved in a conflict with your employer, you should not criticize them in public, especially on social media. It could come back to haunt you in the future.
4. Resolve conflicts quickly.
Most people don’t like conflict, myself included. It’s easy to let it drag on instead of dealing with it.
However, the longer you allow unresolved conflict to linger, the more it spreads like cancer. As far as it depends on you, try to resolve conflicts as soon as possible so they don’t get out of hand.
5. Don’t send an email when you’re angry.
A few years ago, one of my colleagues did something that upset me quite a bit. In my anger, I fired off an email that (in my mind) set the record straight and proved that I was right.
About thirty minutes after I sent the message, I knew I had responded too harshly, and I had to apologize to my co-worker.
It’s hard to keep you cool when things around you at work are going haywire. But above all, you must remain a class act. Any negative behavior can come back to haunt you. These tips will help you avoid those situations so you can focus on doing your best work.
About: Kent Sanders
Kent Sanders is a writer, professor, and creative coach. He is also the author of The Artist’s Suitcase: 26 Essentials for the Creative Journey, and host of the Born to Create Podcast. Kent’s mission is to help others unlock their creative potential. You can find lots of resources for creative entrepreneurs at his blog, KentSanders.net, where he writes about creativity, mindset, and productivity.