This week has gone by like a whirlwind. From projects due, shifts needing to be worked, practices attended, and just dealing with people, life just seems to happen. Through the week I attempt to keep a good attitude and proceed with encouraging people on a daily basis. Yet and still, even with this mindset, at times we, as business professionals, have to deal with sticky subjects. My topic this week…how to deal with conflict – particularly in the workplace.
This week while working one of my many shifts, I ran and dropped food off at one of my co-worker’s tables. While dropping off this tables food, the table asked me to follow up with bringing them an additional item. During my trip back to the kitchen, I was sat with another table of my own, whom patiently was awaiting my service. Returning to the initial table with the requested item, they yet again asked for three additional things. As their server returned to the room, instead of following up with his table, he haphazardly stated “Jas, go ahead, I know you got it”. Frustrated, I began my journey back to the kitchen and asked another server to assist with a quick greet for my now impatiently waiting new table. This server rolled her eyes and stated “yea, sure”.
Once I finished up with bringing the requested items to the first table, I actively sought out the server whom had the drink order for my table. Thanking her profusely and inquiring what I needed, her response was “You don’t need anything Jas, I’m taking the table”. Alright…Pause. Allow me to explain several things here.
1.) We have assigned sections for a reason, my section = my paycheck.
2.) We work with a team-work system, so the “quick greet” I requested doesn’t mean “steal my table”.
3.) NO, the first server wasn’t doing anything, he could have followed up with his table…He just didn’t.
At this point, I found myself getting very upset. I was not upset with the table for asking me for items (that’s part of my job, we serve). I was more upset with the lack of initiative from my co-worker to make sure HIS table was taken care of, and the other server for stealing my table when I needed help. This right here = Major Conflict.
I now see two options:
1.) I can let it go – and take a chance on this happening again.
2.) I can face the music.
Personally, I dislike conflict. I don’t think I know anyone that “likes” to resolve or handle conflict, but It is absolutely a necessary skill to obtain, in the workplace and in life. Forbes Magazine has an amazing article on “5 Keys of Dealing with Workplace Conflict” . In addition, here are my quick steps on how to handle yourself if you aren’t the most comfortable with conflict.
1.) Remember your chain of command – Find someone above both of you to include in the conversation, some call them a mediator, but personally it shows that you are serious and that your conversation isn’t “personal”.
2.) Communicate Effectively – If you don’t know exactly what it is that is upsetting you, think it through, write it down and come prepared. Review your points during your conflict conversation and make sure to be clear.
3.) Stay open to hearing another point of view – Listen! At times we focus so much on ourselves that we don’t hear the people around us, we listen to respond, not to actually hear. Keep in mind, most of the time the goal is teamwork, you may be upset but you may also be wrong. If you aren’t wrong, listen anyways – you still may learn something.
4.) Remember your end goal – At the end of the day, we are here for a reason, your end goal says more than you think about the situation. If your goal is to be heard, make sure they hear you. If you simply want to communicate it is not okay to treat you “this” way, make that clear. Whatever your end goal is, be clear and make it known.
5.) Stay open – Don’t hold the grudge, remember you do still have to have a healthy work environment. Keep the relationship open, because at times people don’t realize that they have even offended you. Once the conflict is resolved, why wouldn’t you want to continue working effectively with that person.
Life is about relationships, and resolving conflict shows what that relationship is made of. At the end of the day, we have a job to do and if conflict keeps you from completing that job, then you need to find a solution. At the end of the shift I had a conversation with a member on my management team, he listened, agreed with me, informed me that I was not wrong but did tell me if this happens again to inform him immediately. From his point of view, there is no reason any server should ever have the issues that occurred that night. He is a major advocate of teamwork and I trust that he will handle the rest accordingly.
Each shift since has been smooth and the relationships with my coworkers are great. So, challenge for the week. Take some time to think about a situation that could have been treated differently. Furthermore, drop your comments to tell me your thoughts on conflict resolution. How do you handle it? What are your tips? Again, I look forward to hearing from all of you. Best wishes this week.