Whether you’ve discovered a problem or you’ve become a target because of a problem, you need a special skill set to respond to workplace nonsense caused by anger.

Occasionally, you’re faced with an angry Associate that just can’t cope with the operation’s constraints, or worse, you’ve discovered responsibility for an omission or act that is unethical, or even worse, you’ve discovered a deed that will affect your Company’s credibility or add unnecessary expense, to cause workplace nonsense.

When your anger signal emerges or when you’re confronted by an angry Associate, adapt and apply the following skill sets while moving to an area where other Employees can observe. You are now providing a “teaching moment” for Observers. Its always best not to argue on Company time and to use the tools provided by the Company to resolve conflict. Be aware that any personal interaction that occurs during working hours is subject to oversight and control by the Company, to avoid workplace nonsense.

Attack the Issue, not the Person
Name calling puts people in a position to respond angrily and defensively. Name calling is usually used when someone feels they are losing. Name calling breaks-down communication and destroys trust in the relationship.

Look at Why you and/or they are Arguing
Is the objective of the argument to vent anger? Is the argument an attempt to embarrass someone? Is the argument an honest attempt to communicate and/or resolve thoughts and feeling? If the point of the argument is to win, then the argument will not become a discussion, but will contribute to workplace nonsense.

Listen and Hear
Try to deal with both sides of the perceived situation. Be aware of your feelings and their feelings. Make sure you are heard, and they are heard, and attempt to repeat what has been expressed.

Deal with the Here and Now
Don’t refer to past mistakes and incidents. The past is generally dragged-in when someone feels the argument is being lost. Bringing in past grievances causes ill feeling and breaks down communication, to allow workplace nonsense to persist.

Don’t make Comparisons to other People, Stereotypes, or Situations
Focus attention on this unique situation.

Give the Other Person Equal Time
Both sides need to express feelings and points-of-view to create a full, mutual understanding.

Don’t Blame
Deal with your feelings and take responsibility for them rather than blaming them on others. Use “I” statements rather than accusatory “You” statements. Blaming causes defensiveness, which promotes workplace nonsense.

Don’t Make Threats
Threats back people into a corner, which leads to ultimatums to save-face.

Don’t Play Games
A game is being played when both parties are not being direct and honest about what is wanted or needed in a situation. Examples: silent treatment, uproar, yes-but, if you trusted me, if it weren’t for…

Don’t Involve Other People’s Opinions of the Situation
“He/she agrees with me”! The only opinions that are relevant are yours and theirs.

Don’t Say “Always” or “Never”
These are usually exaggerations and will put both parties on the defensive, which promotes workplace nonsense.

Admit When You are Wrong
Pride can create a major impasse in communicating.

Recognize Your Anger
Become aware when you are no longer engaged in constructive discourse by monitoring your body signals: pounding heart, flushed face, headache, clenched fist, racing thoughts, sweating, tense jaw, inability to listen… (Are you becoming the source of workplace nonsense?)

Take a “Time-Out”
When you perceive the argument will not become a discussion, politely say, “I need to privately think about this issue so I’m leaving for an hour.” You may not be able to leave the workplace. Take your time-out away from others that may fuel the argument.

Leave for an Hour
Do something to relieve tension, like jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups, walking, running, but don’t hit anything since that acts-out violence, to promote workplace nonsense. Examine your point of view using “I” statements like “I feel hurt” and “I understand”. “I” statements enable acceptance of responsibility, while “you” statements just, attack.

Check Back In
Ask “Is now a good time to talk”?  “Can you explain why you felt anger”? Attempt to resolve the problem using your skill set but take another “time-out” if the discussion becomes an argument. If you can’t resolve the problem after your 2nd time-out, table the issue for another time and follow-through at that time – try 24 hours. During that time, look for a win-win solution. If you can’t resolve the problem after 3 attempts, get help from Company officials.

Sit Next to Each Other
Did you know that sitting across the table from each other during conflict resolution is antagonistic! If you know you must resolve the issue because you really need this job, or you really need your Associate, then sit next to each other, or at least on the same bench or on the same side of the desk or table. If you’re a Supervisor and you must settle this issue so both sides win, offer your chair to your Associate and occupy the chair on the other side of your desk. Of course, workplace nonsense is expected and inevitable. However, your Company already has the tools in place to resolve conflict – use them…