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Recognize common patterns that add fuel to the fire

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in Workplace Communication,Workplace Conflict

Conflicts between individuals may erupt out of the blue. Once they start, whether they intensify is often up to you.

Say you observe an action or behavior that ticks you off and you lash out and react angrily. That in turn infuriates the other person--and the dispute escalates. It's better to calibrate your response. Adopt these strategies to prevent a conflict from spiraling out of control:

Laugh off an insult. There's no law that requires you to react indignantly to every perceived slight. Shifting the focus to the business at hand can show that the insult barely registered with you. Exception: If someone makes a racist, sexist or other undeniably foul and inappropriate remark, say that you cannot let such a comment stand.

Play the mannequin. When someone raises his or her voice at you or seems agitated or emotionally unhinged, root yourself. Strike a neutral facial expression while maintaining eye contact. Imagine yourself a mannequin who doesn't budge or react visibly to others' fury. Keeping your composure may not instantly calm a screamer, but it helps you respond on your terms.

Assess, don't judge, "should" statements. If a peer barks, "You shouldn't say that," don't argue. Instead, keep quiet. Bellicose personalities may pick fights, but you need not take the bait.


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