Addressing colleagues in the workplace can be a challenging task when it comes to confrontation and conflict. Other times, addressing colleagues with whom you have an amicable relationship is much simpler. Regardless of the situation, though, workplace etiquette should be recognized for the field in which you work. Some forms of address are more suitable than others, for example, in the business community.
Learn the typical way in which people in your workplace address one another. Observe the conversation between fellow employees to understand which is the best possible form of address. In some cases, this may be through a simple first-name address, while in other cases it may be more appropriate to use the more formal "Mr." or "Mrs." In health care settings, doctors generally are addressed as "Dr." rather than "Mr." or "Mrs.," unless specifically instructed to do otherwise.
Respect the space and property of others where you work. In a sense, this is a nonverbal form of address or an unspoken recognition that the people you work with deserve respect. This also helps you to remember to address these coworkers properly when you need to. Too much familiarity with a coworker can break down the traditional established boundaries and affect workplace etiquette, causing it to become too informal and crude.
Avoid office gossip. Getting involved in the latest office gossip can affect how you view some of your fellow employees, how you respond to them and how they address you as well. Keeping your relationship on a professional level helps you to avoid unnecessary confrontation.
Approach confrontation with colleagues as carefully as possible. Avoid loud shouting matches with fellow employees whenever possible, and avoid negative language and comments under your breath when you are not pleased with the words or actions of colleagues. Ask the potential source of conflict to speak privately, and politely state your issue. Suggest ways to correct the problem and see if the person you are confronting is agreeable to such changes. Avoid attacking the character of the person you are confronting because this could simply cause him to go on the defensive and cause further conflict.
Request a meeting with your boss or supervisor whenever you fail to reach a solution on your own. Don't be accusatory when stating your issue with a colleague. Instead, state your position and your perception of the situation and ask your supervisor how to handle the issue. If possible, ask the supervisor to mediate the dispute if one exists. Sometimes having a third party to mediate is helpful.
Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.