How To Tips To Fix a Workplace Relationship Gone Wrong

You may be pleased to say your company has a Respectful Conduct in the Workplace Policy.  You might call it a Workplace Harassment Prevention Policy.  Or a variation on that theme.

It’s a good thing to have regardless of what it is called.  BUT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN TROUBLE HAPPENS IN RELATIONSHIPS?

That policy is designed to make a statement to everyone in your organisation regarding what is tolerated and definitely what is not tolerated.

But what does a person do when they feel they’re being treated disrespectfully?

How your policy actually performs is much more important than how well composed it may be.

A Policy Starts with a Purpose

Every policy starts with a Purpose Statement, designed to underscore the importance of the document that follows.

As an example, it might read like this:

Fiore Group Training Inc. believe that every employee has the right to a work environment where they are treated with dignity and respect, and has a responsibility to treat others the same way.  A respectful workplace is in the best interests of Fiore Group Training, its employees, and its customers and clients.  Fiore Group Training supports its employees in preventing discrimination and harassment, reporting and resolving conflicts early and informally if possible, and in eliminating causes of discrimination, harassment and conflict.

These are certainly important and noble words.

But what happens when they don’t magically transform your workplace into Xanadu?

Respectful Workplace policies (or variations on that name) are NOT about sterilising your workplace.

The policies are designed to provide some structure around how employees get along with each other and also what they should do when they no longer do.

Is it time for a difficult conversation at work to address workplace relationship stress?

Step number one.

Your policy document should lay out the options that are available to an employee and the steps that should be taken.

One of those possible options is to engage in a difficult conversation with the person whom they feel are treating them disrespectfully.Even the most confident people find confrontation with other people a difficult thing to do.However, experience has taught us that the earlier the conversation takes place regarding the unacceptable behaviour, the easier it is to prevent the repetition of disrespectful behaviour and to clear up what could simply be misunderstandings.

How many times have you discovered that a rift in an otherwise normal relationship was caused because of a misunderstanding or misinterpretation?

Don’t answer that….the answer is going to “lots” for every one of us!

Below are some tried and true suggestions for having that conversation but before you leap into action, make sure you know what you are going to say.

Step number two.

Prepare yourself ahead of time for optimal results

Often, when we open our mouths and then engage our brain, we say something we later regret. We may actually make the situation worse not better.

So plan ahead of time what you are going to say.

After all, it would be like going to the airport, going through security and then deciding where you are going to go.

That never happens. (well OK, there are some who find that exhilarating…)

You plan these things out ahead of time….just like you’re going to do with this conversation.  Don’t jump the gun!  Prepare yourself.

How to Tips

  1. Ask the person to have a sit-down conversation
  2. First of all, thank the other person for agreeing to discuss the situation
  3. Be calm
  4. Explain in detail what the other person has done that offended you and provide specific examples of the behaviour
  5. Stay focused on the impact that their behaviour is having on you in the workplace
  6. If the other person apologises, accept the apology and thank them
  7. Provide suggestions for how to fix things – ask for their suggestions in return.
  8. Confirm the agreed-upon resolution and clarify what each of you will do to maintain things in the future
  9. Finally, make certain that you sincerely thank the other person for their willingness to have the conversation and work on improving things between you

Remember, no one can force the employee to have this type of conversation – but they can be highly restorative when workplace relationships go awry.

But the whole point of a restorative approach is that both people need to agree to have the conversation.

This can’t be forced on anyone. If the employee feels they are not confident enough to have the conversation or they don’t want to have the conversation, your policy will guide them to another step in the process.

That is what it is there for after all.

To provide structure.

Make sure yours does.