In reviewing searches that led individuals to our website and blog last month I was surprised to find that roughly 55% of them were looking for information about handling difficult coworkers. Why? Is this a new phenomenon?
Friend and colleague Tim Holdsworth published a two part series about “toxic coworkers” in 2011:
These articles have broken our own records for readership since their publication, along with one particular article from my “Managers: The Good and the Bad” series: Managers: The Arrogant Bastard.
Before I go on, does it strike anyone else as odd that coworker conflict is getting more airtime now in an era where so many more people are working from home?
In a 2010 study published in the Journal of Social Psychology, researchers at Indiana University found that coworker abuse was far less likely to occur when one or both individuals had some level of political skill and far more likely when negative emotions were allowed to “fly”. Nothing new here, right?
Coworker Dilemmas – Are They Opportunities Too?
In this blog and in our social media communications generally, we try to maintain a positive attitude about everything we discuss. Does that mean we don’t see the dark side of people or the sad state of affairs on the topic of <insert favorite sad topic here>? No. We’re fully conscious. We just choose to highlight aspects of people, business and events that serve as positive examples.
So why discuss a topic that smacks of “The kids aren’t getting along”?
In the right context and with the right leadership, adversity can lead to better times in a stronger business. Consider a recent article published by Information Week Global CIO, The Upside of Conflict by Cindy Waxer. Cindy quoted Perceptive Software CTO Brian Anderson as he shared “…tips on how to convert conflict into IT success”:
- Recognize conflict’s power to spark an open dialogue.
- Let conflict weed out the unwanted.
- Use conflict as a marker for positive change.
- Let conflict shape your culture.