We all must have been through this experience at least once in our lives: We find ourselves on the receiving end of toxic blame with an intent to create a feeling of shame. This might have happened throughout our lives in different stages – at school, at home with family, with a spouse, in an office environment. Conflict in the workplace may be the worst of these experiences.
Every time the pattern repeats, our bodies respond to it. Our fight-or-flight system revs up, blood rushes to our cheeks, our hearts race, and we go into hyper-alert mode. But, we don’t have to end up in this state.
If we understand this feeling of blame and shame and learn some very practical tools for coping, we will be able to regain full control of our bodies before they go into the fight-or-flight response. We can learn to deal with conflict in the workplace with mindfulness.
Use These 6 Mindful Tips to Resolve Conflict in the Workplace
Follow these six tips to carefully deal with situations in which you are being blamed and shamed in the workplace.
1. Take Deep Breaths
When we feel pressured, our breath automatically becomes shallow. This alerts our body to move out of the rest-and-digest mode and straight into the fight-or-flight response.
Instead, be mindful and slow down your breath. By stimulating full, relaxed breath, you will – in turn – relax your body. Your response to the situation will be better if you are calm.
Need a moment to take some deep breaths? Practice this Yoga For Stress Relief: De-Stress With This 30-Minute Yoga Sequence
2. Understand Projection
Projection is a concept from psychology. Feelings from one person are pinned onto another. Carl Jung explained this as a person who has denied a quality within himself and put it in his shadow. When he sees this quality expressed by someone else, he punishes it harshly. This is exactly what is happening in this situation.
The person who is trying to blame and shame you has been blamed and shamed themselves. They have this uncomfortable energy inside of them and they try to get rid of it the moment they have a chance to pin it on someone else. So, they create a conflict in the workplace.
Realize in that very moment, that you are in a position of power. Just because someone who is bitter tries to hand you a bitter tasting medicine, you do not have to take it.
3. Create Boundaries
Understand that the person blaming and shaming you has somehow become emotionally involved in the situation. Something in the situation makes them feel triggered, threatened, or entitled to push your boundaries. In such a case, you need to enforce your boundaries even more. The best way to do this is to remain detached and practical instead of attached and emotional.
Try to ask logical, timeline-based questions. This will force the person to use the logical part of the brain (the right side). In turn, this will cause the high-running emotions that come from the left side of the brain to subside.
4. Have Empathy
Now that you know why this person is treating you this way, you can try your best to have empathy for them in this situation. No one likes conflict in the workplace, so your colleague is obviously emotionally disturbed and might be acting this way out of pressure, anxiety, fear, hurt, or hatred.
Silence can be golden in this situation. Stay silent and let the person express their feelings. You can choose to not respond at all if the person is crossing some serious boundaries and ask that the topic be tabled until you can set up a follow-up meeting to discuss further (hopefully with some management involved).
This also gives the person who is blaming you some time to cool down and think about the issue. It also gives you time to relax and not think about the situation for a while.
5. Revisit the Issue After a Brief “Timeout”
In a professional situation, you can admit to making a mistake if you did make one. Mistakes are a part of evolving. But, if it was not your mistake, you can clarify the situation again in a calm manner.
If the person is still insistent on blaming and shaming, then it appears to be a toxic behavior pattern on their part and you can simply ignore it, stay silent, and move on. The person might need to do some deep inner work on their own to clear the wounds that cause them to feel the shame.
6. Realign With Your Intentions
After all is said and done, we should – then – introspect and realign with what our intentions are. Remind yourself what your purpose is at work and keep this at the forefront of your mind. Try not to let any conflict in the workplace deter you from your overriding goal.
Conflict in the Workplace Isn’t Personal
Ultimately, we need to realize that when someone tries to make us feel a certain way, it is because they feel like that internally. It is up to us if we want to receive the feelings that they are trying to pass on to us.
Think of it like an email: If you see the subject line of the email as “Here is some blame and shame, just for you,” then you can simply delete it without even opening it. If you find the person re-sending such emails to you, then simply mark them as “Spam.”
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