We spend a good chunk of our days at work, which could mean we either get on really well with our coworkers, or they may drive us a little crazy sometimes.
Science says that workplace friends often make the best friends, given that they can act as our advocates, our mentors and, sometimes, our workplace therapists. A wealth of research suggests that “work spouses” — a coworker and office friend with whom we have such a strong working relationship that they seem to be our office spouse—are major contributing factors in our career successes — and they can boost our workplace morale. For example, they can offer loyalty, respect, support and trust, which each help us grow both personally and professionally.
But the flip side is that not everyone is going to work well together, and workplace conflicts could arise.
Tension is almost inevitable if you're working with a lot of different types of people, and that can make the workplace stressful and, ultimately, hurt your career. To follow are three of the most common coworker fights, and how to handle them.
Whether you're working on a project and disagreeing on how to present it, or you need to meet a deadline but you can't agree on the final product, coworkers will disagree. If everyone always agreed on everything, there wouldn't be any collaboration, challenges or teamwork. Clashing with a coworker isn't always easy, though. Respect everyone's input and share your own. Keep an open mind, try new techniques and approaches, and work together as a team to come to common grounds.
Everyone has a competitive coworker. In fact, studies show that women are extra competitive with one another as they're trying to stand out in predominantly male-dominated industries. Do your job and do it well and with integrity; don't sweat the competition. In fact, make that competitor your ally and use them as motivation to do more or better yourself.
If you've ever worked on a project and noticed that one person wasn't pulling their weight — that's the lazy coworker. Do your part and talk to your coworker about what's lacking on their end. If you need to, speak with someone in charge of the project to reallocate duties so you can assure you meet your deadlines. You're not throwing anyone under the bus, but you are making sure that you get things with your name attached to them done.
One person's negativity can bring down a whole team, but only if you allow it to. This person is always playing devil's advocate, criticizing solid solutions, and has very little faith in the outcome of a project or a company in its entirety. If you and your negative coworker don't share the same values, work ethic or goals, there might be some tension. Work together to come up with common goals and communicate any questions and concerns openly so you can address them before the negativity gets out of hand.
If you're experiencing bullying with another coworker, you're not alone. New research published in the journal Development and Learning in Organizations finds that 70 percent of female executives feel as though they've been bullied by other women in their workplaces and that these bullying incidents have stunted their professional growth. You can deal with bullying by defending yourself, talking it out, reporting the bullying and, if your concerns are not taken seriously, it may be time to start seeking out other jobs.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.