Every manager will face conflict eventually. While truly hostile situations are less common than everyday disagreements, hostility may also occur.
Hostile situations on your team can be tough. Managed effectively, these situations can also provide unparalleled opportunities for growth among your team members. Here, we provide our best tips and tricks for transforming a hostile workplace situation into a collaborative work opportunity.
Focus on the Issue, Not the Person
It can be difficult not to take a hostile situation personally. Often, a hostile person feels as if they’re attacking others directly – and they may be trying to do just that.
First, pause within your own mind. Take a deep breath to calm your body’s fight or flight reaction. Remember that you’re there to discuss the issue – and you’re going to do that, no matter how much the other person seems to want to fight instead.
Release Some Pressure By Reaching Out
When someone else behaves in a hostile way towards you, your first reaction isn’t to reach out to them or to build rapport. Yet this unexpected and uncommon approach is often the best way to defuse tension.
To do this, look for some form of common ground, no matter how small. If the other person grumbled about the weather, for instance, you may decide to start here: “It is awfully cold today, isn’t it?”
Get Them Talking About the Substance of the Issue
One of the best ways to connect with a hostile person is to give them the floor – with some guidance.
Questions like “What happened?” or requests like “Help me understand” demonstrate that you are taking the hostile person’s account of the issue seriously. They communicate that the other person doesn’t have to knock down your barriers to be heard. Rather, you’re offering to lower those barriers in the interests of reaching a larger goal or understanding both sides of an issue.
Often, allowing a hostile person to express what’s upsetting them is enough to help them clear their minds and focus on a constructive outcome.