Don’t you just love a good argument. The coming together of two differing opinions, expertly dissected by passionate individuals… Okay, more like petty name calling escalating from an inane action.
A poll of 2,000 British workers conducted by E.ON found the top 10 causes of arguments in the office to be:
2. Eating smelly food around co-workers
3. Loudness of phone calls, music and/or TV
4. Untidiness when using other people's desks
5. Rounds for tea making
6. Bad time keeping
7. Stealing food from the fridge
8. Holding meetings/group conversations when others are trying to work
9. The blinds/lighting
10. Booking out shared spaces
While these reasons all seem relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, leaving them to fester could result in increased tension in the office that could spill out into the rest of the team. That’s why we’ve put together a few suggestions on how to reduce the tension and get the office working in perfect harmony.
Sounds simple enough but when faced with employees arguing and disrupting the office it’s easy to lose your patience. Sometimes it’s best to remove one or both individuals from the situation and allow them to cool down. Arguments are highly emotive and things are often said in anger that are instantly regrettable. Manage the situation first and then get to the root of the problem.
Give both sides your ear
The evidence seems crystal clear. Worker A started the argument and Worker B retaliated, open and shut case. Or is it?
It’s easy to think you have all the answers, but have you asked the right questions? Take the time to listen to both sides of the story and then take appropriate action. Failure to do so could result in lingering animosity.
Set out your stall early
The top 10 list features many causes that could have been easily solved by the companies involved setting out their stalls in a clear and concise manner. For example, ban employees from eating smelly foods in the office, formalise being mindful of others when using the phone, create a centralised booking system for using shared spaces and structured etiquette for temperature, lighting and time keeping. If you leave employees to create their own rules in the office, you’ll soon be managing a sequel to lord of the flies.
Allow people a chance to air their grievances
Don’t bury your head in the ground and assume that everything is rosy. Allow people to express their opinions in a safe environment. Be open to disagreements; if handled correctly, disagreements are a great catalyst for change. Encourage people to have opinions and provide constructive criticism, you never know what could come out of it.
Above all else remember that your average workplace is a melting pot of different cultures, religions, beliefs and personalities. If you manage it right, you could create something truly incredible, get it wrong and you’ll be another stat on a survey.
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