The Macquarie Dictionary definition of conflict is: “to come into collision, clash or be in opposition or at variance, disagree”.

When a number of people co-habit in a place it is inevitable that conflicts and small feuds would arise due to a difference in opinion between some of the people. We can’t all agree at all times and that’s how nature intended it to be as well. Through healthy differences in opinion, emerge amazing and innovative ideas that can really take an organization from one step to the next in terms of progress.

The real question that arises is, are work place conflicts simply a nuisance that need to be dealt with or are they in fact a blessing in disguise through which employees and the company can benefit in terms of ideas?

Types Of Workplace Conflicts:

  • Interdependence Conflict:  This form of conflict arises from one person being reliable on another for cooperation. The situation where it is most likely to occur is when one employee who reports to another employee on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis. One employee might grill the other one too hard in order to make them learn the tricks of the trade, but the employee reporting might feel that he/she is being humiliated or not being appreciated for their hard work.
  • Difference in styles of working:  Some employees are task oriented, they believe in getting the work out the way as soon as possible so that they can move on to the next task at hand, while other employees are more centered around how to make people learn from the task at hand, i.e. people oriented employees.
  • Diversity conflicts:  Any organization that is supporting diversity and its many variations it can bring faces conflicts arising through the differences emerging over time. Workplace conflicts that arise from diversity are due to a difference in background and way of thinking. It is more personal than any other form of work place conflict and must be dealt with in a tactful and smart manner by the organization.
  • Personality Clashes: People have a wide range of personalities; some are type A personalities who are flamboyant about life and what it has to offer. They are extroverts who are opinionated and they are not scared to voice their opinion, while there are also type B personalities who are comparatively quiet. They chose to work within their own space and time and they are not as expressive as the type A personality type. An organization benefits from both these type of people, but it must be kept in mind that they may not always gel well together. Also work place conflict may also arise from two similar types of personalities working together. In such situation attention must be paid and the HR department must be on their toes finding the right people to coordinate with each other.
  • Leadership Styles: Sometimes some employees respond better to a certain kind of leadership while they get confused and rattled because of a new style of leadership. Such a nature of workplace conflict occurs when leadership or the top-level management of an organization changes. It can be quite a challenge to make the employees comfortable with the new form of leadership, and during the adjustment phase many egos may clash and the irritable employees might give to unwanted work place conflict.

How To Deal With Work Place Conflict

1.     Communication is the Key: Talk to the employees and ask them about the particular grievance at hand.  Be partial and listen to both sides of the story before coming to a conclusion and a solution to the problem. The most severe of work place conflicts can be resolved through proper communication.

2.     Don’t lose your cool: Getting aggravated in a heated situation can make things worse. Things may become much worse than what they started off, so make sure that you stay calm and composed and ensure that the angry employees calm down as well. Practice exercises like mindfulness that lets you control your temper in heated arguments.

3.     Use the Argument To Find A Common Consensus: Move towards the solution, do not stall on what happened too long that the employees get worked up reliving what happened. Make sure that something constructive comes out of the argument and a solution is derived.

4.     HR should Intervene: In the case of employee abuse or any conflict that is very severe in nature the top-level management must intervene. They must investigate and take required action against the party who is responsible. It can do wonders what a good HR department can do for an organization!

5.     Celebrate Diversity: Make sure the employees understand that they need to work through their differences because of diversity and that too in a way that it is beneficial for the organization.

What’s your experience of workplace conflict resolution? What do you think works best? Share your thoughts below.

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