How to Handle a Conflict with a Colleague (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

Conflicts at work are inevitable.  Make sure you handle them the right way!

When I worked in sales for the NBA’s Washington Wizards, we had a computer database shared by the department’s 20-30 sales reps.  We had to enter full contact information for each of our customers and prospects, and we also had to track our discussions with our accounts.  These policies were in place so that management could check our progress at any time and so that we did not have multiple people calling on the same customer.  Nonetheless, the system was far from perfect.

During my first season with the team, I was trying to establish a program with a youth leadership organization.  One day, I looked up my account in our database, and I noticed that one of my colleagues had set up a separate account for the same exact organization.  Her account also indicated that she had recently spoken with one of the group’s leaders. 

Annoyed at what I assumed was a blatant attempt to “steal” my customer, I chose not to approach her professionally and ask what was going on.  Instead, I went directly to my manager for his opinion.

In a questionable management move (note: your boss will make mistakes also!), my manager approached my colleague’s manager about the situation, and her manager then told her about my concerns.  Later that afternoon, she stormed over to my cubicle and started yelling at me, asking why I was telling people that she had “stolen” my account.

After things cooled down, I met with her and the 2 managers, and we amicably resolved the situation.  She had not seen my account when she created hers, and she recognized that she should have not contacted the group.

Do you want to avoid unnecessary arguments at work AND get your colleagues to respect you?  Then, speak with them in-person about any conflicts (rather than going to your manager initially)!  While this will not always be comfortable, it is much more effective than trying to go around someone.  You will also save your boss from dealing with another headache.  Having said that, there will be times when you will need management to intervene.  Just try to resolve the issue with your colleague first!

Thanks for reading!

-Pete Leibman

-President of Idealize Enterprises

– Career Expert and College Speaker

Explore posts in the same categories: Dealing With Difficult People, Dealing With Your Boss, Professional Relationships

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