Work Conflict

Sometimes the heat can get to you and I’m not talking about the summer sun. Minor workplace conflicts and frustrations often get exacerbated and colleagues don’t always handle things in the best way. Whatever the season, don’t let office heat get you down or make you lose your cool.

Here are 5 things you should never do:

Exclude a Colleague

Of course you have your work friends in place. But if someone who works closely with you is getting on your nerves, try not to exclude them from group activities outside the office. A shift of environment and a good laugh may be all you need to break the tension. Try to keep disagreements about work strictly about work and avoid letting them become personal. Everyone at work would rather get along than have tensions looming. Extending an olive branch of sorts and inviting them out rather than excluding them could have a positive impact that everyone can benefit from. Not sure how to make the invite? Try something like…“I know we disagreed about the data in the presentation, but I don’t want that to become a personal disagreement. We’re all going out after work, want to come?”

CC Their Boss

It’s the oldest trick in the book and one of the most passive aggressive actions you can take. Avoid it, as it can shift dynamics for a long time to come. Once the present issue gets resolved, you may have a hard time regaining your colleague’s trust and confidence. If something is really bothering you, the best approach is to speak opening and directly to your co-worker. Something like “I love working with you and want to be sure that we’re able to maintain our workflow. I know we have different work styles and would love to come up with a way to create a process that works for us both.”


Admittedly this can be hard to resist. But try to hold your tongue…literally. There’s no upside. Certainly you should have a safe space to vent and that may end up being to a colleague. However, there is a difference between gossip and venting: your intention. Gossip aims to mar the other person’s reputation or get others to agree with your negative viewpoint. On the other hand, when you vent to find the best way to deal with a situation, you become solution-focused.  After talking it out, you may even recognize you’re causing the problem. That usually never happens when you gossip.


Meetings are the battle grounds of office combat. You can single-handedly ruin someone’s day by simply forgetting to acknowledge them and their contribution to a project. Maybe you interrupt their point with one that conflicts and sways others against their viewpoints. Usually these things happen with little premeditation and as an emotional response to feeling previously wronged or undermined by the other. It takes a lot of self-awareness to realize you’re doing this, but others may easily pick up on it. We’re certainly not suggesting you keep an opposing opinion to yourself. Just be aware of your motivations and if you’re in a tense situation at work, check in with yourself before going into a meeting or responding to group emails and other communications.

Outright Sabotage

Deleting files from someone’s computer, giving them old data for a project or other such acts are perhaps more suited to movies about workplace rivalries. Working Girl and The Devil Wears Prada are great standards to have cued up and a reminder that staying true to who you are and doing your best work will eventually pay off.

Managing a team? Avoid workplace conflicts among direct reports by following these best practices.