HUMAN RESOURCES / MAY. 09, 2014
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Questions to Ask When Picking Your Battles at Work

In reality, you're not going to get along with all of your colleagues. Personalities will clash and some people will overstep boundaries from time to time.

If you’re the type of person who lets things roll off your shoulder, you may not entertain behavior by colleagues who get under your skin. But if you want to show that you're not a pushover, you might regularly confront annoying coworkers.

Standing up for yourself in the workplace can certainly get others off your back and stop many conflicts. But at the same time, constantly confronting people in your office might do more harm than good — it all depends on the situation. Sometimes, it’s smarter to pick your battles and only address serious issues.

Here are three questions to ask yourself when picking your battles at work:

#1 Will the Issue Matter in the Next Week, Days or Hours?

You have to work with these people for 40 or 50 hours a week; therefore, you owe it to yourself to maintain a good working relationship. The truth is, bringing up every little issue that occurs in the workplace can create unnecessary tension. And if you develop a habit of picking fights with your coworkers and blowing up minor annoyances, this can have a negative impact on your reputation.

This doesn't mean that you should overlook or shrug off serious issues. However, if an issue is small and you're not likely to remember it in the next few days — or later on that day, it’s best to let it go and chalk it up to personality differences.

#2 Is Arguing Going to Solve the Problem?

If you feel strongly about something, your natural tendency might be to argue your point to the death. But if the other person is set in his ways — and you’re set in yours — you're not likely to change each other's opinion. In this case, let it go to maintain peaceful relations. Maybe you feel that a coworker’s way of completing a task is inefficient and you know a better way. It's okay to offer advice, but if the person doesn't want your help, move on.

#3 What is the Underlying Issue?

Before bringing up an issue with one of your coworkers, consider whether there’s “really” an issue. Sometimes, if we dislike a certain coworker, our emotions may cause us to exaggerate minor issues and blow them into something unnecessary.

Do a self-evaluation before calling out another employee. Could your feelings be misdirected anger? Are you jealous of this person’s advancement? Do you have a vendetta because of some past issue? These are uncomfortable questions to ask yourself, but getting to the root of the issue and understanding your emotions can help you determine whether an issue is petty or valid.

People will get on your nerves, and you may ruffle a few feathers in the office. However, if everyone maintains their professionalism and learns how to let things go, this will create a friendly, calm atmosphere.

How do you pick your battles at work and maintain peace in the office? Have your say in the comment section below.

Image Credit: Flickr

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