Resolving Conflict Without Being a Jerk

Don’t ever let them pull you down so low as to hate them.

~ Booker T. Washington

by Pete Ferguson

A friend and former coworker reached out over the weekend commenting on the blog and suggested I should write about “how to confront co-workers without being a jerk.”

As I have a teenage son at the moment, I’m getting a lot of practice at resolving conflict – but still working to ensure the part about not being a jerk.

I was trying to think of a case at work involving escalated conflict where ego was not involved. I couldn’t think of one.

A solid rock is not disturbed by the wind; even so, a wise person is not agitated by praise or blame. ~ Dhammapada

Some years ago a very talented Director, Kathy, and I were at odds over something which now seems really trivial (as most conflicts do when given time and a vacuum of emotion). I had gone over Kathy’s head to her boss, and I recall Kathy confronting me head on and told me if we had issues, that we needed to work it out at our level. And we did.

Which leads to my first piece of advice, don’t take it personal – and show the other person respect (even if they do not deserve it!).

Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. ~ Carrie Fisher

As we tell our 7-year-old all the time who gets extremely dramatic anytime her brother picks on her – “don’t give him the power to make you upset!” Sunday she sat down on a barstool and hugged her legs and repeatedly said, “I’m not going to give him the power, I’m not going to give him the power …” And she didn’t and he got bored and moved on.

I’ve found that so long as I’m in control of my emotions and put up a bit of an emotional forcefield, I can remain calm and objective.

My second piece of advice is to not make assumptions. A lot of times the conflict can only be in your head. Take time to talk it out with the other person. Ask them to explain their perspective.

My wife is infamous for tackling people she is not getting along with head on. More than once she has baked a plate of cookies and gone over to someone’s house and said “I’m having a really hard liking you, and these are the reasons why …”

Then they talk it out, hug it out, and become good friends. Steph has found that often times the other person had no idea about the conflict.

Gandhi once declared that it was his wife who unwittingly taught him the effectiveness of nonviolence. Who better than women should know that battles can be won without resort to physical strength? ~ Barbara Deming 

Some people are just happy being unhappy. It is very strange, but true. I don’t have to worry about many of those people reading this blog, because I find people who really do enjoy misery do not devote time to self-improvement. It is key to identify these type of people in your life and distance them as much as possible, and dump them altogether if allowed.

Unfortunately at work and with family, sometimes you can only afford limited distance.

He took over anger to intimidate subordinates, and in time anger took over him. ~ Milan Kundera

Stick to the facts. One way I’ve found to keep emotion out of the picture is to triple-check my facts and then stick to them. Bullies don’t cope well with facts, that’s why they use intimidation and manipulation to get their way.

You will feel a lot more confident if you are confident with your point of view but have enough self-confidence to allow for compromise when needed.

I’m certainly not an expert on this topic, which is why I enjoyed mulling over it for a few days. In fact many of the topics I write about are because they are key areas I’m working on in my own life.

What tips and tricks can you provide in how to deal with conflict without being a jerk? Also, if you have any suggestions on what I should write about, leave a comment below or drop me a line at

Happy Tuesday!


One thought on “Resolving Conflict Without Being a Jerk

  1. Pingback: Do Your Best | learnactshare

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