Batman has the Joker. Spiderman has the Green Goblin. Superman has Lex Luthor.
Just because you’re a hero doesn’t mean you have to get along with everybody.
Conflicts happen. These superheroes had their nemeses, and, as the hero of your workplace, you probably have yours.
Whether it’s a difference of opinion, conflicting personalities, or even a flat-out argument, people don’t agree all the time – especially when there are multiple people clamoring for leadership, eager to prove themselves. (If a group was meant to have more than one leader, Professor X and Magneto probably would’ve gotten along a whole lot better!)
But when you’re at work, it’s essential to keep your cool and remain collected. One of the keys to doing so: choosing your battles wisely.
Every great hero knows when to engage and when to back down. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s intelligence – and in the workplace, it’s professionalism.
Failing to choose battles wisely means wasting a lot of energy and time. And busy heroes will tell you those are precious resources.
So when you find yourself getting frustrated, stop, breathe, and ask yourself these three questions before putting your dukes up:
- Will it benefit me to win?
Just because you can prove you’re right doesn’t mean you’ll actually gain something. So first ask yourself if there’s any benefit to “winning.” What will you get out of this battle? And, if the only thing you’ll gain is vengeance on a co-worker or boss who’s made your life difficult, is that really enough?
Do you think Thor took on his own brother without seeing a benefit? Of course not! His willingness to oppose Loki was essential to saving both Earth and Asgard. Look for the payoff, people!
- Is it worth the energy?
Sometimes, even if we do benefit from engaging, fighting for something just isn’t worth it. Arguing takes a lot of energy, and doing it in the workplace can be risky. Take the time to consider if the battle will be worth the energy you’re expending – or your reputation.
Hint: If the issue at hand is a matter of pride, it’s probably not worth it. Stubbornness won’t win you any points with your co-workers, so just let it go.
- Is it worth my time?
Say you’ve considered the first two questions and decided that there is a substantial benefit to winning and it’s worth your energy to try. Your time might still be better spent elsewhere. Time is precious. Before entering a workplace battle, decide if there are other efforts worthier of your time.
So when are battles worth fighting in the workplace?
Only when three things are present: 1) A strategy, 2) support from all employees, and 3) a very strong reason for winning (profit can’t be the only one!). A well-thought-out essential battle should create excitement, make a significant difference, and be specific and winnable. These battles are essential and should be part of your business plan.
Bottom line: Managing isn’t for the faint of heart. Though keeping your temper in the face of conflict can seem like a superpower in itself, it’ll help you maintain peers’ respect in the long run.
If you’re still having trouble keeping a lid on your temper, think about how you stay calm in your personal life. What helps you keep perspective? What do you do to mellow out? Do you have a go-to relaxation strategy that could transfer to the workplace?