I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about the need for people within organizations to be able to talk to each other. I really feel that businesses can’t progress if all the employees within can’t find ways to communicate with each other when it comes to taking care of business.

However, I haven’t spent almost any time talking about when it’s probably a good idea to avoid getting into certain things with each other. There are many reasons why you shouldn’t engage in everything that comes your way, and some techniques in getting away with it.

What’s driven this thought is that I’ve recently started back to playing a game online that I’d totally forgotten about from about 4 years ago. Out of the blue I got an email saying that my account would be disconnected in a month if I decided to ignore the email, and when I went to see what it was all about I remembered the game and couldn’t remember why I’d stopped playing it.

Anyway, in this game it gives you daily choices of policies you can vote on to either accept a choice given to you or to just dismiss the issue. The game is very black and white, so always accepting a choice will make the game swing in some very drastic ways. Thus probably 75% of the time I just dismiss the issue, which means nothing happens and I wait until the next issue comes along.

In business, sometimes doing something similar is wise. For instance, it’s not always management’s role to get in the middle of employee squabbles unless it affects the overall operation of the office. When you do, you’re faced with one of two options, those being to support one over the other or “punish” both in some fashion, and neither of those options is all that fair. If it comes directly to you sometimes you might have to be prepared to tell them to work it out and think about the company rather than their issues with each other. It’s a tough stance because often we try to fix everything, but what I’ve found is that these things often work themselves out, and in a much better fashion than anything you could have done.

I’ve also always avoided any conversations about employees with another employee unless I was talking to a supervisor that reported to me about job performance issues with someone under her. That’s because you never know what a person’s agenda is when such a conversation begins, and even a slip showing how you might feel about someone, positive or negative, will get out and become the discussion you’ll wish never happened.

Avoidance in this way doesn’t mean you’re not doing your job. What it means is that some issues don’t have anything specifically to do with the work, and thus you should try as hard as you can to never get trapped into an action you really didn’t have to take. Avoidance can often be the wisest move you’ll ever make.

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