How to Handle a Workplace Dispute

Workplace disputes, while hopefully uncommon, do occur. Usually, the actual dispute is not the issue: it is how you handle the dispute. Here’s what you should do:

Pick Your Battles. A huge part of handling workplace disputes is knowing when you should engage and when you shouldn’t. Not all comments, actions, or situations warrant your attention or response. So before you engage, decide whether it is something that even matters.

Remove Emotion. If you do find yourself in an office debate or disagreement, you have to remove emotion. This means no yelling and no tears. Because holding back emotion can be difficult, try giving yourself time to calm down before you address the issue. Sometimes, calming down means taking a breath or two before you speak. And, sometimes, calming down means discussing the issue hours later. Just make sure that you are able to express your position clearly without losing your cool.

Don’t Make it Personal. Keep your words professional and respectful. There is great power in proving your point without hitting below the belt.

Move On. After the dispute is worked out, move on. Don’t dwell on the issue and don’t run around the office gossiping about it.


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