How to Pick Your Battles at Work

There’s bound to be at least one person in the office that you don’t get along with, and it could be because of something as trivial as they keep using your favorite mug or as serious as they keep stealing your clients.

But before you wage World War III on them, make sure you know that you’ve thought everything through and that you’ve figured out whether you really should fight this battle.

See Also: How to Deal with a Coworker you Don’t Like But Everyone is Obsessed With

1. Fight Only If You Have To

Employees fighting

Ask yourself whether the issue affects your work or the organization in any way, and whether it could have long-term implications. Assessing the situation will help you ascertain how serious it is and whether it needs addressing.

Picking a battle with that colleague who keeps using your favorite mug is simply silly, and it will only make you look childish. If that’s the issue here, simply ask the colleague in question to stop using your mug or if, heaven forbid, they ignore your requests, just stash it away in your desk drawer for safekeeping.

As C. JoyBell C. points out, “fight only the most, most, most important ones; let the rest go”.

2. Know Your Authority

If you’re planning to pick a fight with the boss’ pet or relative, or the boss himself, you’ll probably be fighting a lost cause. Simply put, don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. You’re only destined to lose.

If the issue goes well above your pay grade and it affects workplace morale or the organization itself, you’ll need to enlist the help of HR or even that of your boss’ boss – assuming that they’re not best buddies.

3. Have a Plan of Action

Don’t walk into war blindly. After all, all the great generals of the world carefully planned their armies’ every move before going into battle – the Greeks would never have won the Trojan War if they didn’t have a plan of action.

How will you go about it? Are there any possible obstacles that you’ll have to face and how can you overcome them?

You should also get help – coworkers who have the same or similar issues with the instigator. If you can be backed by an “army”, you’ll have a better chance of coming up with a solution to the issue at hand and will find it far much easier to present your case to upper management should it come to that.

4. Understand the Consequences

You’ll have to seriously think things through and consider the consequences of picking a fight in the workplace: will you only make matters worse? Will you give yourself a bad name? Will you make more enemies than friends?

This isn’t something that should be taken lightheartedly – the truth is that it could very well end the instigator’s career with the company, or worse: your own.

5. Retreat

If you’re fighting a lost cause, perhaps it’s best to let go of whatever it is that’s bothering you. You don’t have to feel like a dog with its tail between its legs – and retreating only means you’ve lost the battle, not the war. Besides, there are bigger fish to fry and more serious things to address, like furthering your career and finding your dream job.

See Also: 7 Ways to Deal With an Untrustworthy Coworker

Have you ever had to pick a fight of your own in the workplace? How did you go about it and what was the outcome? Share your advice and experiences with us in the comments section below!