Workplace Conflict

Conflict at work is a normal part of working in a large, diverse and  complex community.  When colleagues are not getting along, consequences can be costly.  People may be preoccupied with their negative emotions and bring them home.  Productivity and creativity may suffer as people focus on their distress rather than on their work.

Workplace conflict can stem from personality, opinion or style differences, power struggles, ego, envy, and communication breakdowns.   It can also originate from personal problems such as substance abuse, childcare issues, and family problems.  Organizational factors such as leadership, management, competing resources, and disagreement about core values may also contribute. These issues can affect not only your work life, but your personal life as well.  Individuals experiencing workplace conflict may feel stressed, anxious, angry, and even depressed.

Common Signs of Workplace Conflict

  • You and others do not like coming to work
  • You experience an overall negative attitude in the workplace
  • You and others do not feel respected or valued
  • Frequent unresolved misunderstandings and arguments occur
  • You and others have low morale
  • You and other employees do not feel you are making a contribution
  • People talk behind each other’s backs
  • Tension level is high at work
  • You and other people do not  feel safe at work

Tips for Coping with Workplace Conflict

  • Don’t react immediately, try to cool off first
  • Don’t assume the other person intended to create conflict
  • Don’t argue about who is right
  • Do try and understand the other person’s views
  • Do choose your battles wisely
  • Do think about what you may be contributing to the conflict
  • Do understand that conflicts come from different perceptions, interpretations, and values and needs
  • Do consider that culture, gender, age and position influence perceptions, interpretations and values
  • Do consult with someone who will give you balanced perspective and good advice
  • Do prepare carefully for a conversation