Managing a Personal Dispute at Work

Communication and Skills


Saskia Constantinou
Journalist, Cyprus

Managing a Personal Dispute at Work

It's happened to all of us - a business argument that got personal, or a fierce personal disagreement in your team, or anywhere in the work environment

There are many causes but the end result is always the same. One feels hurt, angry, misunderstood and wronged. Sometimes, it is the final straw to a list of events and circumstances which might not even be work-related. What is undoubtedly true though is that repairing the communication and interaction in the workplace is often not simple.

Pride is involved where self-esteem, dignity, honour, self-respect and ego all have a place and role. Each has their own perspective and a different slant to the altercation or situation.

The effects of long-term disputes in the work environment are detrimental not only to the parties involved, but often to the rest of the team. It can even affect the possibilities of promotion and inclusion in other work events. Career advancement comes from networking, so the quality of relationships at work can vastly impact ones chances for climbing the ladder. A toxic relationship that don't improve drains time and energy. The relationship doesn't need to be great neutral and respectful relationships are fine.

The primary solution is to actually sit down with each other when the "waters have calmed" and give each person an opportunity to put one's point of view forward. It's imperative that the one doesn't interrupt the other and listens with an open mind. One needs to explain how you were affected by what the other person said and did and for what he/she did not apologize. Obviously a good-faith element is needed with a good enough working relationship to warrant this effort in preserving and developing the relationship.

A few further ideas for improving relations at work:

Practice Humility and say "Thank You" Who wants to work with a 'know-it-all'.
Be an Active Listener Understand different cultures and norms.
Be Honest Acknowledge strained relationships and have a conversation.
Engage and Encourage Everybody wants to matter and be valued.
Embrace Differences Not everybody is the same, so understand the different backgrounds and experiences make us what we are.


Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Personal Disputes at the Office

Thanks for your excellent posting. I think you have given some excellent tips for these situations w... Sign up


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