Conflict in the Workplace

by Lexi Gonzales*

“Don’t fear conflict; embrace it—it’s your job.”

Conflict is going to happen. It is a natural part of the work place, and it is unavoidable. Whenever people work together conflict arises, since no person is the same. People have different communication styles, personalities, goals, and work habits. It is important to be able to recognize conflict and the nature of conflict, in order to maintain a healthy and productive work environment. Handling conflict is a big challenge for many.

There are few ways to address conflict: avoidance, collaboration, compromise, competing, and accommodation. Probably the most effective ways to resolving conflict are collaboration and compromise. They are most productive forms of addressing conflict because they focus on find the best possible solution to an issue.

To determine a solution, it is important to establish the source of the conflict. There are many reasons or causes of conflict.

Conflict can start from poor communication. Not all people have the same communication styles. This can lead to misunderstandings between coworkers and supervisors. When reflecting back on past conflicts, most will notice that they form from poor or lack of communication. It could have been from lack of information, poor information, no information, or misinformation. One may have even received good information but simply did not know what to do with that information.

Different values can be a source of conflict. Not everyone views life in the same way. When an office is filled with lack of acceptance and understanding of one’s value, there is conflict. This also happens when people in an office are unaccepting to people’s different personalities.

Differing Interests can cause conflict when one is more interested or concerned about their personal goals rather than the company or organizations’ goals.

Scarce Resources often make coworkers feel like they are competing with each other in order to keep their jobs, this causes conflict.

Poor performance is also a source of conflict, when one or more individuals are not performing to their full potential, this can cause strain on others in the workplace, resulting in conflict.

After establishing the source of conflict make sure all parties are aware of the causes. Make it clear on why the issue needs to be resolved. Address all the issues face-to-face with people involved to make sure there is a clear understanding. It is important to not name call or bring up issues from the past and to focus on the issue on hand. Address specific behaviors that are unacceptable and what situations need to take place in order to have change happen.

It is important to actively resolve conflict when it occurs, to create a more positive work environment for everyone.

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