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Who Cranked the AC?

When Tensions Rise In the Workplace

Despite the Spring-like temperatures and the freshness of the season, workplaces can sometimes still seem a little chilly. And even though temperature tends to be a hot topic of conversation in just about any workplace (usually with parking running a close second!), that’s not what we’re talking about here! In this case, we mean “chilly” as in cool or tense or somehow lacking the warmth of a friendly, nurturing, caring environment. Especially after a very trying 12 months, some working teams are struggling to work together well. 

As we’ve said time and time again, and with a respectful nod to Cy Wakeman, we co-create our own environments - including our workspaces!

So let’s say you’ve got some tension in your office. Perhaps some internal disagreements or clashes of personality? It doesn’t have to be that way! We need each other more than ever these days, and teams are so much healthier when they can embrace their differences rather than let them be a source of division!


Regardless of whether you’re in a leadership, influence, or participant role in your workplace, we offer these tips:

The first step is to see if you can figure out the source of the tension. Why are people clashing or butting heads? There are some fairly common trends in this, and to get you started, here are a couple of the most common sources:

  1. Lack of understanding or appreciation about differences in communication and personality style. If people genuinely haven’t taken the time to think about our differences, we sometimes forget to appreciate those differences and misperceive them as hurdles or challenges.
  2. Missing expectations about communication, work style, interactions, etc. If we haven’t taken the time to collectively agree on how we interact with each other at work, we can’t hold each other accountable to those expectations, and what one person wants may be different from what others want.
  3. External stress. When the pressure is on (financial pressures, client needs, industry or seasonal stress, or, perhaps a global pandemic, for example) sometimes we spend so much of our energy fighting those external battles that we forget to save energy to be good to those closest to us.


It could be any or all of these or others yet, but if you can pinpoint a cause (or two or three), then it’s a lot easier to get to solutions…

Dealing with a disconnect in communication styles?

Let’s get folks on the same page so that they understand their own style and the style of their colleagues. Tools like DISC and other communication profiling tools can help people understand that they think and communicate differently from those around them. They can learn more about other people’s styles and how best to connect with them. That person who starts talking about the work at hand, skipping over the “good morning” isn’t trying to be mean, they’re just highly focused on their work. The person who asks a lot of questions isn’t trying to get under your skin, they’re just trying to get their head around the information. Here at Your Clear Next Step, we offer some great team-building sessions using DISC, and our customers have said that the tools they walk away with help them understand and appreciate each other so much better. Reach out to us to see how we can help with a team-focused workshop. Or, if your budget is tight, take advantage of on-demand training like “How to Work Better with People who Think and Communicate Differently than You Do”.


Dealing with a disconnect in workplace do’s and don’ts?

A great free tool we have is an on-demand training that would give your team the opportunity to consider your own internal workplace expectations. The session “How To Make Courtesy Common Again” is a free on-demand training you can watch together as a team or separately. Want to make the learning last? We also offer a free downloadable tool around workplace Ps & Qs. Both the session and the downloadable are designed to foster good communication in your team, making sure that everyone is on the same page about the topic at hand. Sometimes just having the conversation makes all the difference!


Stressed out from stuff outside of your team?

Sometimes the stress of the times causes us to divert our energy towards crisis mode, which in turn causes us to forget to be mindful of how we’re coming across to others. In our own reaction to the pressures we’re facing we neglect to adjust our style, soften our tone, and reach out to our friends and colleagues with compassion and caring. In our class “Do You Mind? Four Ways to Boost Personal and Employee Engagement in the Midst of Extended Crisis, Disruption, and Uncertainty,” I teach the connection between mindfulness and the engagement of those around us, and offer specific tips and techniques for increasing both. This is a great class for leadership teams or a whole team, either virtually or in person. We also have our upcoming Spark! Ignite Your Team conference which is designed specifically to help increase team connectivity, creativity, and trust,


If workplace temperatures have left you tense, make sure you first identify the cause(s) and then work to find some solution(s) to move your team down a path to warmer, less tense days. The nice thing is that you don’t have to do this alone. If you are having some chilly days at the office, contact us and we’ll be happy to help as best we can!


Topics: Sinikka Waugh, Communication & Collaboration

Sinikka Waugh

About the Author

Sinikka Waugh

Sinikka Waugh is a recognized leader in understanding people and in adapting tools, techniques, and processes to meet the demands of the situation at hand. Since 2006, Sinikka has provided compassionate leadership in transformation initiatives. When she isn’t in front of a class, she enjoys putting her background in English and French Literature to work, by writing blogs about the subjects she teaches every day. Are you ready? If you are, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! contactus@yourclearnextstep.com


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