While conflict is a normal part of any social and organizational setting, the challenge of conflict lies in how one chooses to deal with it. Concealed, avoided or otherwise ignored, conflict will likely grow into resentment, create withdrawal or cause factional disagreement within an organization.
So, what creates conflict in the workplace? Opposing positions, competitive tensions, power struggles, ego, pride, jealousy, performance discrepancies, compensation issues, just someone having a bad day, etc. While the answer to the previous question would appear to lead to the conclusion that just about anything and everything creates conflict, the reality is that the root of most conflict is either born out of poor communication or the inability to control one’s emotions.
Sources of Conflict
There are many causes or reasons for conflict in any work setting. Some of the primary causes are the following.
- Poor Communication: different communication styles can lead to misunderstandings between employees or between employee and manager. Lack of communication drives conflict ‘underground’.
- Different Values: any workplace is made up of individuals who see the world differently. Conflict occurs when there is a lack of acceptance and understanding of these differences.
- Differing Interests: conflict occurs when individual workers ‘fight’ for their personal goals, ignoring organizational goals and organizational well-being.
- Scarce Resources: too often, employees feel they have to compete for available resources in order to do their job. In a resource scarce environment, this causes conflicts – despite awareness of how scarce resources may be.
- Personality Clashes: all work environments are made up of differing personalities. Unless colleagues understand and accept each other’s approach to work and problem-solving, conflict will occur.
- Poor Performance: when one or more individuals within a work unit are not performing.
Managing Conflict at Work
Don’t be a conflict-avoider – difficult interpersonal workplace problems won’t disappear by ignoring them; they’ll only get worse. Chronic conflict-avoiders will end up losing the respect of their co-workers.
Maintain the moral high ground – Don’t lose control, pull rank, or give up the moral high ground – calm control is a more effective position to negotiate from.
Don’t think in terms of winning – Get closure and move ahead…the sooner, the better.
How We Can Help
We have many counselors who can help you problem solve and manage workplace conflicts. For more information or to make an appointment to see a counselor, contact The Village Family Service Center.