It doesn’t matter what kind of work you do, you must work with other people.  And inevitably, this will cause conflict.  You and a teammate will not see eye to eye on an issue, which will cause both of you frustration.  It can be as little as how to file a report to as big as the two of you are unable to work together to get your jobs done.

Many people’s first reaction to this situation is to “bubble it up.”  Tell your boss what’s going on and have him take care of it.  It can certainly seem like the right (and least stressful) thing to do.

However, consider being on the receiving end of such behavior.  If your teammate has a problem with you at work, whom would you rather hear it from – the teammate or your boss?  Worse, if you don’t know you’re causing problems, how will it feel to have someone else talking about you behind your back when you perceive your work as being above board?

It is my policy to always go to the source first when it comes to conflict management.  No matter how big or small the issue, you should let the other party know how you feel about the situation.  Sometimes this is enough to resolve the situation, or at least get a conversation going that will steer your efforts in the right direction.

Worse case scenario: it doesn’t work.  What then?  Well, if it’s still worth bubbling up to the boss, then go for it.  At least your teammate has had a chance to hear it from you first, so it won’t be a surprise to hear it from the boss.

-Deborah Fike

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