In an ideal situation, everyone at your workplace would get along: You might not all be best friends, but you’d get along well enough to enjoy working together.

In the workplace, however, it’s quite common for people to not like each other. While dealing with the presence of a someone you find unpleasant is pretty bad, what’s two co-workers hating each other can be even worse.

When this occurs, stay out of it! Sticking your nose in is rarely effective. Rather than getting involved, try these tips:

Avoid talking about the conflict

One approach is to totally stop talking to the people involved, other than about work-related matters. This could feel uncomfortable, but it works. It’s also a low-confrontation approach to stay drama-free.

However, if you like the people involved and you want to have a friendly relationship with both of them, you should get in the habit of changing the conversation whenever one of them starts complaining about the other person. This approach is a bit of a cop-out, but it’s effective. Soon, they’ll get the idea that you’re not receptive to hearing these kinds of complaints.

Tell them you don’t want to be involved

While changing the subject works, it’s not exactly being direct. A different approach to getting out of the conflict is to directly tell those involved to not include you. When the complaining starts, be direct in shutting down the discussion.

It is important to remain polite, professional and empathetic. If those involved are decent people, they should respect you trying to do what’s best for you. If being direct makes them dislike or distrust you, at least you’re in the clear when it comes to getting in trouble with management.

If you would like to make the situation better and those involved seem open to advice, you can encourage remediation, possibly through a supervisor, union steward, impartial colleague or HR representative.

Get assistance from your supervisor or HR

Unless you’re the supervisor of those involved, it is not your obligation to resolve office conflicts. Don’t attempt to be a counselor or mediator. If the situation doesn’t improve and if it’s affecting the quality of work, it could be time hand the situation off to those who are in a position to discuss it.

You might hesitate for fear of being seen as a tattletale, but it is possible to go to HR or management in a neutral, professional way. Simply, convey the matter to the appropriate party and mention that you don’t want your name to come up. Your supervisor or HR can take it from there and determine how to proceed.

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