Fire fighters are known for their close camaraderie on the job. But on any given day, personality conflicts can occur in the firehouse that can affect staff morale. IAFF members discussed how to deal with difficult people and behavior in the work place at the IAFF Human Relations Conference this week.A federal mediator led the discussion that centered on improving  labor management relations, organizational effectiveness and employment security and community relations.

When seeking answers on why a conflict hovers around the firehouse, one has to ask: how well do you communicate?

“Communication is something that we all think we do well, but sometimes we don’t,” said Ines Delgado-Alberto, who moderated the session.

The four components of communication include: the sender,receiver, message and feedback (the last component is something that people in general don’t do enough to get an understanding of what’s being said, according to Delgado-Alberto).

Some communication obstacles may arise from differences of diversity that includes: race/ethnic, religious, cultural, gender, personality, physical, work style and generational factors.

In addition,  people need to practice active listening, instead of being on the defensive.

People have a variety of ways of communicating — body language, past experience or how a situation is perceived.

The next time you find  yourself in a difficult work situation, Delgado-Alberto suggested thinking about the following:

1) Assess the situation – Ask yourself if you are dealing with a difficult person or difficult situation.

2) What am I willing to accept about this situation?

3) Should  I put some distance between me and the person or situation?

Strategies to cope with all types of difficult situations bring issues to the forefront. Don’t believe that ignoring these issues and problems will make them go away.

Recognize the difference between a difficult person and a difficult work situation.

Remember that communication is a two-way street, so if a conflict arises all parties should examine their roles in the situation and think of solutions to solve issues.