Has your superior or colleague been short with you recently and you aren’t exactly sure why? Maybe they have maybe been downright rude in a meeting and you are tired of feeling like you are always on the edge of your seat?
This never feels good and it happens. Our colleagues are human too however, you can manage this situation with reflection, empathy, and effective communication.
So what can you do in this situation to defuse it and repair the relationship?
It is hard to continue to be rude and upset with someone who is always kind. It is also important to give the benefit of the doubt that they just may be having a rough day, or the stress of a project may be piling upon them.
Avoid passive-aggressive or sarcastic comments
It is tempting to say nasty things that may be easily explained away but this does not build your relationship with your manager. Avoid passive-aggressive or sarcastic comments veiled as kindness as this can contribute to further misunderstanding and they are your superior.
Take time for empathy
Ask yourself what you think is going on and take a moment to fully understand the situation. This isn’t to explain away bad behavior on behalf of your superior but it gives you the opportunity to be more perceptive into what is going on so you can truly address it when the time arises.
Evaluate your behavior
Your superior being curt or stressed with you isn’t appropriate but is there a reason? Just as it is hard to be upset with someone who is always kind, it is equally as hard to be impolite to an employee who is always on time, productive, organized, and well mannered. Are you missing a huge deadline, have you been underperforming?
Even if you made a mistake, or you need to adjust your behavior, it doesn’t give anyone the right to be rude to you, but it is an important step to reflect on your behavior. Please try not to feel bad or judge yourself too harshly, this step is meant to help you gain the full picture as to where this frustration may be coming from so that you can properly address the frustration.
Use tact and discretion – Give the benefit of the doubt
Ask yourself if this behavior is habitual and needs to be addressed or if it was a one-off remark or an off day and can be let go. If you think it can be let go because it never usually happens, then let it go. If you are becoming stressed, embarrassed or the work environment is becoming hostile then proceed to the next steps.
Schedule a meeting to have a discussion
Ask your colleague or superior to set aside some time to meet privately that you would like to discuss an important matter with them.
When you approach this conversation do so from a place of understanding, empathy, and a desire to find a resolution. When you are speaking with someone about topics such as these, it is important to implore the use of “I” statements rather than ‘You’ statements as these create an accusatory tone and put the other person in defensive mode. This conversation may start out something like this…
“Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. I truly appreciate and value your time. recently we have been working very hard on this particular project and I have looked deeply at myself and my work product on this project and I have to let it go but I just cannot move past this feeling that I am irritating you. I would like to know if this is accurate and what we can do or what you need from me so that we can resolve this feeling and work better together on this project. I really love this job and working together with you on this project so I want to do whatever we can to enhance our communication on this project to enhance our productivity.”
When to involve Human Resources
If you feel that this conversation did not go well and the behavior continues or becomes worse, if you feel unsafe, or a colleague is using profanities towards you, calling you names, being racist or sexist, or speaking to you in such an inappropriate manner that you are crying or scared; go to HR and ask for assistance immediately. This is abusive behavior and it is not appropriate in the workplace.
I hope that you find these tips helpful for resolving conflict with a superior. Please feel free to save this post for later or share it with someone who may find it helpful.
Have you ever been in this situation and have good tips for resolving the matter? I would love to hear your feedback on how you will use this method to help you or what ways you have been able to resolve these matters at your office!