Volatile Workplace Arguments – 10 Questions To Ask Yourself

Volatile Workplace Arguments – 10 Questions To Ask Yourself


Managers and staff generally can make poor decisions, by acting too quickly in response to apparent provocation by a work colleague. The case study below considers emotionally charged situations that are driven by a volatile personality; and how to handle such incidents.

Diffusing volatile interpersonal work conflicts requires an understanding to how to approach the problem and what questions to ask.  We’ve included 10 questions to ask yourself to help assess a volatile personal workplace arguments at the office, and bring into perspective the situation so that calmer heads prevail.

Case study

Here is the background: no-one does anything about Tina. They just try to stay out of her way. But the effects are terrible. Our team has broken down and everyone seems to have divided into factions. People are ignoring, gossiping about and trying to undermine each other. We can’t even seem to look at each other, let alone sit in meetings or have lunch together like we used to.

In this work environment — two people get together to review a report. Tina and colleague Brad both had to contribute to the report. Brad starts the meeting by saying his section was not completed.

Tina loses it.

Brad is outraged that Tina shouts at him — abuses him in front of his colleagues. Brad thinks of all the times Tina has upset him and others and how they have put up with it — and now to be abused for missing one deadline! He feels so angry.

What is Brad to do here?

You can’t stop yourself from experiencing emotions during a workplace argument, but you do have some control over what you are feeling and the intensity of your feelings. Because every emotion arises from a perception, you can change the way you think about your life to change what you feel. The primary strategy here is to ask yourself some questions.

If you are Brad — ask yourself:

  • What are my assumptions about this situation?
  • Am I sure I’m right?
  • Why am I feeling this way?
  • What is the evidence that my perceptions are right?
  • Is there another possible explanation for what is going on?
  • What have I not said to Tina — so, what information is Tina missing out on that she may have found useful in her response?
  • How do you want to be seen to act?
  • What can you do to help Tina and you behave more respectfully?
  • Will your actions be perceived to be positive?
  • How can you make sure the perception is positive?

The conversation Brad has with himself — and we have all been Brad at some point in time — helps Brad to work out his expectations and helps him figure out if those expectations are realistic. Use the questions to clarify your assumptions and your expectations of yourself and, in this case, of Tina. Every office has a Brad and a Tina and every office will experience workplace arguments – the key to resolving the workplace arguments is to try and understand the root cause of the workplace argument and then building an action plan based on the 10 questions above. In some cases, the scope of the workplace argumentextends to beyond just two individuals and encompasses departments or organizations. ProActive Resolutions specializes in resolving workplace arguments and re-establishing Respectful Workplace so that future workplace arguments are dealt with in a respectful and productive manner.

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