How to handle challenging situations at workplace?

In a professional set up challenges creeps through in one form or the other. Uncalled situations can get tricky to handle if not approached in a right way. There are more things at stake when situations are mishandled- loss of reputation, loss of professional relationship, loss of credibility etc. In today’s information overload, single button click can gather thousands of articles, podcasts, blogs, trainings and therapy materials guiding you how to handle what type of situations. Even to a stretch, on personal consultation experts may spin up a custom made process just for you.

  • Disagreement with team mate about a task,
  • Implementation gone wrong discussions,
  • Mistrust due to lack of communication, etc
In any unpleasant conversation both the involved parties would like to have an upper hand. One may get bull head and even succeed the conversation, leaving the bitterness behind forever. But, it is not a sustainable practice in the workplace.
Here are 6 hops to take which helps steer the wild chaos into settled waters.

Hop 1 – Stop

The most crucial hop of all hops is to know, “when to STOP”.
When the conversation head towards “What is Right” to “Who is right”, STOP right there at that point choose not to drag the conversation. Thats the exact point when things start getting bitter, to make it better it is recommended to stop the conversation. What does it mean by STOP? is it good to go silent immediate next second? , NO.
What it means to Stop is to pause the conversation, and take a leave with an hint to revisit this topic after few days with fresh perspective. Buying time helps to avoid many awkward situations. If this can be identified and achieved, you have won half the war already.

Hop 2- Think


When you have successfully took yourself out of the situation, do not get into any thought churning process right away. But rather, give it a break divulge yourself into any activity which can keep you distracted. Walking, running, gardening, cooking, painting, music , spending time with pets etc are the activities which have scientifically proven to have positive impact on disturbed human mind.

But what if I am in place where none of these are an option. In such cases, first thing to do is to have good amount of water and hydrate yourself. Write down all your feelings unconditionally  on piece of paper, and also practice deep breath (Pranayama).

Introspect the situation a day or two later, try to revisit the whole conversation and identify the points where conversation could have been driven better from your end. This is not the time to self blame, but to set up a feedback loop for oneself. Pin point all those places where you can rephrase and reinforce the conversation on a more positive note.

Hop 3 – Talk


This is a very important middle point of the hop and can change the whole game. Find an ally who can support you without any judgements. Be it a friend, or a mentor, or a partner basically someone who was not part of the situation in the first place and have no background of what went through. Talking to oneself in front of the mirror is also a great idea. Open up and talk your heart out, the idea here is not to seek a solution from other person but to hear out yourself.

One point to consider in this step is to be considerate of the other person’s idea too. Revisit and try to see the solution the other person is trying to propose. This is an energy draining activity, you need to gather bucket loads of patience to execute this hop.

The outcome of this hop is either you figure out the flaw in your proposal or the value add which can be rephrased and re-proposed with better impact.

Hop 4- Identify


After the first 3 hops, you are in much better place to see things in clarity and not driven by the blinders. Now is the good time to identify the ways to re-propose and reconnect with the person.

First is to reconnect, by approaching the person oozing positive vibes. Do not excavate the old conversation by using the words like

“As I said before”,

“Like I had mentioned”,

“I knew it” etc.

This does not help any further, make a neutral approach by choosing more positive vibe like –

“Hope we are in good state to revisit the topic”,

“I would like to re-propose and revisit the topic, is it a good time?”,

“Can we take some time out and talk?” etc.

It is even better if the conversation is contained between 2 parties without involving wider crowd.

Second step is to Re-propose, when you choose to revisit the topic Never choose to start from where you left last time. But, rather choose to start over from the beginning and share your points by highlighting what makes you believe your proposal is the best. Also, please ensure to keep an open mind and ask for the reasoning why the other person chose to propose his/her solution. It is always  an open conversation which helps you unearth and learn new stuff.

The outcome of this step is to identify the next further steps to be taken. In this stage either you agree for one idea together or both disagree and part your ways.

Hop 5 – Plan


Either you choose to agree or disagree, a plan to “what next” should be put in place specially in professional environment . If there was a decisive conversation, even better. It opens a good opportunity to figure out next set of actions and clearly draw up the actionable plan.

Not all conversations have rosy ending and its completely ok to disagree but the idea is to make a graceful exit without burning bridges. In case of continued parallel conversations draw up the plan for next steps. Few things that can be done in case of disagreement are

  • Propose alternative person who can fill your space
  • Handover the topic to third party, someone who can address it with fresh set of eyes
  • Involve Mentors or seniors to get expert feedback
  • Keep it on a hold for a while, if that can be an option etc

Hop 6 – Do


After all the hops, here comes the final hop “DO”. When there is an action plan pulled up, just stick to the plan to perform as agreed with the wider team.
While doing, if you stumble upon another sticky situation. Well, by now you know what to do 😊


Toxicity in the workplace is the last thing anyone would wish to have. It’s not just disturbing oneself but also the team dynamics. It would be worthy to identify and adapt a coping process to reduce the negative impact. While we have to take a stand for ourselves, in a wider team set up it is also important to respect peer feelings and views.
As human beings we  gather experiences all along and are always eager to share our experiences. However, what we equally forget is fellow human being also would have something to bring. Practicing kindness in workplace can help catapult your career to different levels. Momentary wins do not help us to grow, we should know to draw the balance between when to let go and when to stand with foot pressed.

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