Working Through Personality Conflicts at Work

No need to resign—an employee shares how she learned to lovingly resolve issues with her coworkers.

By Kathleen Arnold

Categories: Guidance, Jesus' Commandment - To Love as He Loved, Loving and Forgiving

Previously in my job, we had all worked well together, even through stressful times that come from being a newly formed company. But there were two instances where staff members called up and unloaded on me. They also wrote emails attacking me for not getting things done. I was devastated and hurt. Here I was, their manager, working hard for them, not just for me. They had no respect for my efforts. They just criticized me. I couldn't respond; I just shut down. I decided to resign and leave the company. I was unappreciated and hurt by what they said, and I didn't think it was acceptable. So instead of addressing it, asking for clear communication, and trying to resolve it in a kind way, I decided to run away, which was not the right answer.

So what did you do?
I realized I just didn't want to face the issues at hand. But I had given my time and life to this business, so that didn't sit right with me. I remembered I Corinthians 13: "Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not … Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things" (4, 7). Being kind is something we don't do enough. It's sometimes easy not to be kind. I started to think about it: what if that person just needed me to be kind? I asked for my job back, and they accepted me back. I prayed about how to be kind to others. I had the conversations that were tough. The outcome was way better communication with those co-workers. One actually ended up resigning; he realized he had been out of line. So I've seen that I can work through an atmosphere of animosity with "brotherly love" (Rom 12:10).

Are there any other ideas that have helped you work through animosity or personality conflicts?
I've prayed throughout my whole career, "Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee … for we be brethren" (Gen 13:8). It's really good for working with others. Just because you don't see eye to eye with someone, doesn't mean there has to be animosity. Even though one of my co-worker's and I like each other, we still tend to butt heads. It's become important to me that whenever I feel as if we are distanced from one another or are not communicating effectively to stop and turn to this person and say, "I want you to know that if I've done or said anything that came across rudely or inconsiderate, I'm sorry. And if there's anything you need to communicate, I'd like to hear it." So we clear the air and talk about things consistently. Doing this, we've been able to resolve communication issues and go forward.