Handling Conflict as an Intern

Conflict in the workplace is inevitable and an especially difficult subject for interns. There will always be certain individuals who are out to get you, and those who are extremely intolerant of your position. Although it’s not necessary that you eat every bit of garbage flung at you, it’s important to keep a couple of things in mind.

  • As an intern, you are far more expendable than a full time employee. Full-timers have invested significantly more in the company and rooted themselves in the organization to a degree you will never be able to during your short stint. If a project comes to a standstill or is underperforming because you can’t get along with a full-time member of your team, you’re more than likely to get the boot.
  • You are young and relatively inexperienced. While many of us have a pretty good handle of what’s what in the real world, there are situations at a new internship that you might not fully understand because you’ve never run across anything like it before. Don’t get hot headed, relax and try to figure out what the root of the problem is and do your best to right it. Being proactive will get you much farther than being argumentative and asserting a faulty position.
  • Keep and eye out for trouble. Pay attention to your coworkers’ mood and behavior to avoid putting yourself in a tough situation. If it looks like your coworker is stressed and having a bad day, do your best to avoid exacerbating it. Put yourself in their shoes and don’t do anything that could push their buttons and make them blow up on you.

Although conflict is inevitable in any work environment, a little effort can keep you out of a lot of trouble. If someone is being absolutely and consistently unfair to you and everyone around them, it may be time to take it up with the superiors. Otherwise, complaining about problems with your team mates will single you out in a a negative and non-constructive manner.

Some useful further reading:

Disclaimer: The conflict described in this post does not apply to any unlawful behavior. If you think your coworkers are treating you in a way that violates laws governing work and work environments, consult a professional.

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