Sometimes, serious conflict arises from the silliest acts. Workers who lack civility in small ways can leave big problems in their wake.
While you don’t want to play an overzealous traffic cop, watch for minor infractions. Speak to perpetrators in private. Rather than scold them, strike a supportive tone and emphasize you want to encourage thoughtfulness to prevent disruptive conflicts from spreading.
Call employees aside and convey your concern when you observe:
Failure to hold open doors for others. This may seem trivial, but we frequently hear from workers who resent peers for not holding doors open. If you’re carrying a heavy load, it’s especially upsetting for a co-worker to rush ahead of you and let the door slam in your face.
Neglect of workplace upkeep. Walking away from a copy machine that runs out of paper isn’t a federal crime, but it hardly endears lazy workers to their colleagues. Similarly, pouring the last cup of coffee without refilling the pot or leaving a mess in the kitchen can irritate others immensely.
Inflammatory remarks. You can’t control what people say, but you can point out when someone uses inappropriate or hurtful language. By speaking diplomatically and modeling reasonable, fair-minded communication, you reduce the breeding ground for conflict.
Excessive noise. Another common complaint among workers in a tight space is noisy neighbors. Employees may not realize they need to lower the volume on their computer speakers unless you tell them.