Consider these telling statistics from a handful of recent studies and surveys:
- Managers said they spend, on average, 18 percent of their time dealing with staff conflict, according to an Accountemps survey.
- Forty-three percent of employees said they've experienced incivility at work, according to the "Civility in America 2011" poll conducted by Weber Shandwick, its Powell Tate division and KRC Research.
- A Baylor University study found office incivility not only stresses people out during their working hours but also serves as a significant source of strain and strife at home.
Now more than ever, it's critical to find ways to effectively deal with stress and conflict at work. Following are some tips:
Take rudeness for what it's worth.
Being on the receiving end of an unnecessarily sharp barb or inconsiderate brush-off can ruin your day. Why let it? Constructive criticism merits reflection; rudeness does not. So, don't overthink the situation. While you can't control how someone else treats you, you can limit how much it affects you. A person's poor manners or behavior says less about you than it does about him or her.
Don't go it alone.
What do you say at the end of a hard day when you're asked about work? "I don't want to talk about it" is a common response. But in many cases, bottling your feelings only exacerbates the problem.
Opening up to supportive friends or family can be cathartic. Likewise, seeking the wisdom of a mentor or sharing work-related war stories with a trusted member of your network often yields valuable insights and new coping strategies.
Rise above the fray.
Pessimism is contagious, and it's all too easy for chronic complainers to bring others down. Don't get caught up in the negativity. It's possible to keep tabs on office undercurrents without feeding the grapevine with additional gripes, groans or gossip. Displaying a toxic attitude doesn't solve anything, but it will likely make you look bad -- and feel worse.
Give yourself a break.
You might believe you can't afford to take time off. But can you afford not to? Whether you jet off to a tropical island or do a "staycation," stepping away to recharge your batteries is healthy. Getting some distance and decompressing has a way of putting even your biggest workplace woes in perspective.
Similarly, it's smart to take mini-breaks during the day. When tensions are running high, go for a quick stroll to collect your thoughts and cool off.
Finally, take an honest look at yourself. It's very easy to point fingers and identify others' annoying personality flaws. But what about your own? Try to be more mindful of how your bad habits, moods and behaviors might negatively impact co-workers.
We all have days when stress gets the best of us. If you've been unfairly gruff, critical or impatient with a colleague, be willing to say, "I'm sorry." Those two simple words will go a long way toward mending fences.
Robert Half International is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 350 offices worldwide. For more information about our professional services, visit www.roberthalf.com. For additional career advice, view our career bloopers video series at www.roberthalf.com/dont-let-this-happen-to-you or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/roberthalf.
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