I know, I can hear you all laughing out there – “peaceful workplace” is an oxymoron, isn’t it? I think we’d all agree, however, that peace in the workplace doesn’t necessarily mean that there are no problems and everything goes smoothly. That would probably get pretty boring after a while anyway. The degree of peace we experience, I think, is directly related to the nature of the relationships we have with those with whom we work. If you think about those experiences when you’ve been most stressed at work, I’ll bet the root of your stress had to do with a conflict with a co-worker many, if not most, of those times. In my opinion, the top five conflicts we encounter in our relationships at work that disturb the peace are:
1 Jealousy – Thinking that someone else is getting all the help. 2 Suspicion – Believing that someone else is purposely trying to undermine you. 3 Destructive competition – Holding back information or support from one another, so as to gain the upper hand. 4 Anger – Harboring bitterness among co-workers. 5 Fear – Being intimidated by a co-worker.
Typically, we blame others for our feelings. We let our fear, anger or jealousy eat away at us while we obsess over figuring out how to control another person so that they’ll stop causing us grief. Frustration rises as we realize the futility in trying to change how people treat us. The sooner we recognize that the only things we can control are our own thoughts and behaviors, the sooner we’ll realize that only by examining and adjusting our own attitudes will we make our relationships better. Our demeanor has a direct impact on how people respond to us. One of the best ways to be a peacemaker in our relationships at work is to heed the Prayer of St. Francis: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” The final stanzas in this prayer have much to teach us in fixing the above disturbances:
Instead of jealousy, seek to console rather than be consoled. Be concerned about helping others with their problems rather than seeking sympathy for your own. Instead of suspicion, seek first to understand others before expecting to be understood. Instead of competition, give of your time and talents, and others will share theirs in kind. Instead of anger, forgive others before expecting to be forgiven. Instead of fear, die to your own self-interest and insecurities and trust God to take over – this is true confidence.
The bottom line is to stop expecting people to change to accommodate you, and begin to examine your own behavior in order to affect a positive change in your relationships and the workplace as a whole.