How to Talk to a Coworker About a Problem


No matter how much you like someone or how close you are with them, conflict is an unavoidable part of life. This not only pertains to your personal life, but the workplace as well. While you may be able to resolve a problem with a friend by texting them an emoji and bringing over some wine to smooth things over, it is not always as easy to resolve an issue with a coworker. This is because you must remain professional, calm, and reasonable. If you need advice on conflict resolution in the workplace, follow Offsite’s steps on how to talk to a coworker about a problem.



How to Talk to a Coworker About a Problem


Carefully Consider Your Approach

While you may be unhappy with a colleague or something they did, the last thing you want to do is make them feel attacked. If you approach the person in an abrupt, accusatory way – think pointing fingers and shouting – they will likely get defensive. This can cause the issue to escalate further than it ever had to. Instead of storming up to a coworker’s desk or yelling at them across the break room, make sure to calmly ask your colleague if you could step aside for a minute to talk. You could even send them an email asking them to meet you in a conference room or break room at a certain time. Be sure to establish that there is an issue you would like to talk out and resolve, instead of approaching it as you needing to tell them everything they did wrong. This will make your colleague more at ease and willing to resolve the issue.


Leave Other People Out of It…

The tricky thing with office conflicts are all of the politics surrounding them. A problem between two people can quickly turn into the drama-filled gossip of the workroom. People tend to take sides, talk about said problem to others, and spread rumors or misinformation. While you may want to vent to your best friend in the office about how you feel your coworker wronged you, it is best to leave the issue between you and the other person involved. Talking about said problem freely in the office and turning it into gossip could have the word get back to management. You especially don’t want this to happen, as your supervisors could see it as catty, dramatic, and immature.


…Unless You Need a Neutral Third Party

While you certainly do not want to make your conflict the talk of the office, sometimes a mediator is needed. If you feel that you and your colleague can’t seem to settle the issue at hand on your own, it may be best to call in a neutral third party to help resolve the issue and maybe even settle on a compromise. Your best bet for a neutral third party is your human resources representative. This person will get all of the facts from both sides and help get to the bottom of the problem and mediate the situation. If you feel HR interference is necessary, reach out to your HR representative to set up an appointment for the three of you to meet and talk out the problem.