How to survive—and overcome—workplace hostilities

Whether your office is more like a battle of wits, a street fight or guerrilla warfare, use these three savvy tactics to disarm corporate combatants.

How to survive workplace warfare

Love might be the harshest battlefield, but the workplace can be a savage arena, too.

Hopefully, your office is not reminiscent of “The Hunger Games”—or any of these places—but every workplace has challenges. There will always be difficult people, certainly.

Depending on the situation you find yourself in, here are three tactics you can rely on to win the day—and minimize collateral damage:

1. Empathy. If you want to earn respect and tamp down workplace hostilities, learn how to listen. Empathize, and elevate others around you.

Establishing an empathetic culture is about much more than creating good vibes. One study reports, “Eighty-seven percent of CEOs agree that a company’s financial performance is tied to empathy.” That same study revealed that nearly 90 percent of employees are “more likely to stay with an organization that empathizes with their needs.” Sixty percent of workers would even take a pay cut to work in a more compassionate environment.

Cultivating empathy can bring personal benefits, too. Empathetic managers tend to be more successful, and exhibiting genuine care and compassion can make you an indispensable part of the team. Empathy comes easier and more naturally to some people, but it can be taughtand learned. Even if you’re surrounded by slings and arrows, hostile forces or poor leaders, empathy is a potent element of workplace survival.

2. Humor. Who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh?

Whether you’re crafting a speech, an email, webpage or blog post, keep in mind that levity is a key to workplace longevity. Use humor as tool to cool boiling office tension. Use it to build bridges with colleagues and customers alike.

Even if your company is beset by backbiting, jealousy, gossip and sabotage, be a ray of buoyant, irreverent sunshine. Light tends to drive out darkness. Humor has the power to disarm. It can defuse conflict and draw people in. It can also backfire, so deploy this weapon wisely.

3. Swagger. The meek might inherit the Earth, but it’s the confident who succeed in the workplace.

Pipe up, and make your voice heard, introvert. Announce your presence with authority at meetings. Thoroughly, convincingly and consistently prove to your superiors that you are producing excellent work, and boldly share your opinions.

Don’t let workplace bullies belittle or bulldoze you. Believe that you belong in the room. Trust that you deserve a seat at the table. Ooze confidence in your communications, and carry yourself with a swagger befitting an accomplished, worthy professional. (Stop this side of arrogance, though.)

If you lack the confidence to enter the fray, rock the boat or pitch controversial ideas, you stand very little chance of wielding influence. Stand up straight, communicate confidently, and make your voice heard.

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