5 Uncool Things to Do When Workplace Conflicts Arise

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Sometimes, the heat can get to you – and I’m not talking about the weather. We don’t always handle things in the best way when office conflicts arise, and minor issues and frustrations can grow out of hand quickly.

Here are five things you should never do if you want to keep your cool in the office:

1. Exclude a Colleague

If someone who works closely with you is getting on your nerves, try not to exclude them from group activities outside the office. A change of environment and a good laugh may be all you need to break the tension.

Try to keep disagreements about work strictly about work. Don’t let them become personal. Everyone would rather get along with their coworkers than not, so try extending an olive branch when tensions are running high.

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?”

2. CC Their Boss

It’s the oldest trick in the book – not to mention the most passive-aggressive. Avoid it, because it can change your dynamic with a coworker for a long time to come. Even once the issue is resolved, you may have a hard time regaining your colleague’s trust.

If something is really bothering you, the best approach is to speak openly with and directly to your coworker. Try 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.”

3. Gossip

This can be hard to resist, but try to hold your tongue. There’s no upside to gossiping.

You may need a safe space to vent, and that may end up being with a colleague. That’s okay. However, there is a difference between gossip and venting, and it all boils down to your intentions. Gossip aims to mar someone’s reputation, whereas venting can help you find a solution. After talking it out with a coworker, you may even recognize you’re causing the problem. Such realizations rarely, if ever, happen when you’re gossiping.

4. Undermine Them

Meetings are the battlegrounds of office combat. You can singlehandedly ruin someone’s day by declining to acknowledge their contribution to a project or interrupting their point with your own purposefully contrasting alternative.

Usually, this behavior is an unpremeditated emotional response to feeling wronged by a coworker. 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 all opposing opinions to yourself in meetings. Just be aware of your motivations. If you’re in a tense situation at work, take a moment to reflect before heading into a meeting or responding to an email.

5. Outright Sabotage

Deleting files from someone’s computer, giving them the wrong data for a project, and other such acts are more suited to movies than real-life workplace rivalries. Working Girl and The Devil Wears Prada are great reminders that staying true to who you are and doing your best work will eventually pay off.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Atrium Staffing blog.

Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing‘s resident career expert.

Read more in Conflict Resolution

Michele Mavi has nearly 15 years of experience as a recruiter, interview coach, and resume writer. She is Atrium Staffing’s resident career expert, as well as director of internal recruiting and content development. She also founded Angel Films, a division of Atrium Staffing focused on the creation of recruiting and training videos.