What’s the Best Way to Defuse a Tense Situation within the Workplace?

office stressIn the office, maintaining professionalism and equanimity takes precedence over almost everything. The workplace is no place for egos, grudges or petty arguments.

But, when put under the stresses of deadlines, at the mercy of a difficult client, or in a tight situation in the lead-up to a big event, tensions inevitably rise.

Stress is a normal part of life and business, of course. But a frazzled employee can quickly turn into a crippled one, unable to perform his or her task with confidence because of unnecessary tension. That kind of situation isn't good for anyone, not to mention there's nothing worse for employee retention than a harried work environment.

How can you relieve tension in your office before it drains your team's exuberance and ability to get their work done?

We queried our audience on Twitter and Facebook to find some answers. Here are some of the best responses we received:

  • Eagerly assume the responsibility for defusing the tense situation.
  • Gently facilitate direct dialogue.
  • Include office outings and humor whenever possible. Approach the situation directly and in a stealth-like professional manner.
  • Communicate the right information. Tell members of the staff the problem will be taken care of in no time.
  • Not just communication but open communication. Start smiling and actually listening.
  • Address the elephant in the room in a lighthearted way that everyone can relate to.
  • Laughter!

Follow Brian Greene: @bwilliamgreene

  • An agency worker

    Essentially, smile at the problem like you’ve just heard a funny joke? Seriously?

    Conflict smiled at is conflict swept under the carpet. If there is an issue, take the people concerned aside away from the baying audience and treat it with the gravity it deserves. Clarify expectations and priorities. Assess workloads. Assess whether it’s a case of a personality clash or task/project clash. And come up with a next step and goal that is acceptable to everyone.

  • An agency worker

    Essentially, smile at the problem like you’ve just heard a funny joke? Seriously?

    Conflict smiled at is conflict swept under the carpet. If there is an issue, take the people concerned aside away from the baying audience and treat it with the gravity it deserves. Clarify expectations and priorities. Assess workloads. Assess whether it’s a case of a personality clash or task/project clash. And come up with a next step and goal that is acceptable to everyone.