Two people argue while a third person tries to get in between them. Title overlaid says: "How to handle coworker conflict." The average work environment brings together different folks with different personalities. And unfortunately, sometimes those personalities clash.

Sure, you shouldn’t expect (or be expected) to get along perfectly with every one of your coworkers. But you also shouldn’t have to work in a hostile environment with a combative coworker.

If you’re been dealing with some coworker conflict, rest assured you aren’t the only one. Before you throw in the towel or hold a screaming match, consider these 4 tips to help you cope.

1. Think About What Upsets You

The first step in overcoming the friction between you and your coworker is simple:

Identify the source of the problem.

Are they misusing their authority over you? Are they constantly cutting you off during meetings? Maybe they’re unreliable when it comes to completing work on time?

No matter the reason, it always helps to take a step back and think about where your irritation is coming from so that you can handle it with a level head. And if you can’t seem to put your finger on the root of the issue, then there is always the possibility that you might be contributing to the problem. Think about ways your actions may cause unwanted friction with those around you.

2. Assert Yourself

It’s important to treat your colleagues with respect. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t speak your mind from time to time.

If you have a coworker who regularly interrupts you, let them know. Tell them you’d love to hear what they have to say after you’ve finished speaking. Make it clear they should wait their turn, but do it respectfully.

Instead of asserting yourself immediately, you could also wait for a more opportune time with a bit more privacy. Wait until you’re alone, then let them know that something they do is bothering you.

It’s possible your coworker is not aware they’re upsetting you. Many people are willing to change their actions if they know they upset someone, so don’t be afraid to respectfully inform them.

3. Try Managing Up

“Managing up” is the concept of shifting your actions to make life easier for both you and your superiors.

Almost every workplace is going to have a hierarchy, and if the person above you is the one causing you stress, it’s not always going to be your place to ask them to change their actions. Managing upward involves taking on the habits of a good manager yourself to improve communication and efficiency in the workplace.

Some ways of managing up include communicating your priorities, seeking feedback, and trying to anticipate your boss’s needs.

4. Distance Yourself

This is not always possible, depending on how closely you work with the problem coworker, but you should try to put your relationship with them in perspective.

As adults, we know it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to like you, so don’t take it personally if one of your colleagues does not invite you out for drinks after work. Focus on your own tasks and do not look for conflict, and you should be able to find peace in your working environment.
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