A guide to dealing with challenging relationships & arguments at work

Well, here the chartered psychologist Graham W Price has some tips on dealing with a challenging relationship at work;
  • Recognise each of you has probably been doing your best given your perspective, attitudes, abilities, strengths, weaknesses and awareness.

  • Understand each of you believes you’re being reasonable from your perspective. People always do.


  • Try to understand the other person’s perspective. It’s different from your own. Criticising them because they have a different perspective is denying those differences.


  • When they push your buttons, remember that has as much to do with your buttons as it has to do with their behaviour. Acknowledge your own buttons and try not to blame them on the other person.


  • Keeping the above in mind, suggest a meeting to talk about the issues you each may have.


  • Use ‘I’ statements where possible. “I get upset when you do that. I’m not blaming you but I need your help to deal with it”. This usually works better than: “Your behaviour upset me” (see point 4 on pushing buttons above).


  • Listen to each other without interruption. The aim is to first understand the other person’s perspective.


  • Each focus initially on what you could change rather than trying to change the other person.


  • Given the first two point, you need to understand that neither of you is to blame. The aim is not to find blame but to resolve issues and move forward. Don’t focus on past events. Let them go and focus on making a better future.


  • Try to recognise the positives in the other person, not just the issues. Be courteous, tactful and empathic.


  • Avoid making too many assumptions about how they might be thinking. Ask them. Don’t expect them to read your mind either.


  • Agree some goals and what actions you’re going to take to achieve them. Make a commitment to follow through on this.


  • Recognise each other’s efforts and celebrate your own achievements.  
A relationship at work is not so different to one at home – either may need some work to iron out any difficulties. We spend so much of our time with our work colleagues it’s important to do the best we can to ensure we get along. So don’t suffer – do something proactive to resolve the situation.