Managing Conflicts at Work

photo: courtesy of

photo: courtesy of

Conflicts at work are largely inevitable. While some may be subtle and easily ignored, dismissed or avoided, others could be more obstructive -capable of stalling progress until it is resolved.

We each have our unique perspectives of what triggers conflict. Similarly, our preferred approach to dealing with conflict situations varies widely.

Conflict could be brought about by just about anything – the unhelpful personal assistant, the non-participating team member and those who generally come across as ‘wrong’ are all potential triggers.

photo: courtesy of

photo: courtesy of

In some spheres, what I find as being a common source of conflict include: dissenting opinions; a proposition for change; a suggestion/push for process improvement, a power struggle or even an ego trip.

When conflicts arise in the office, it’s important to identify the root cause, and determine if it’s merely a personality clash or a constructive issue at stake. At the very heart of many conflicts is a possibility for improvement or growth. In numerous cases, the best decisions have thrived because they were developed amidst tremendous opposition and refined by criticism.

In researching for a practical approach to resolving conflict at work, I observed that most shared a common theme.

Maintaining a calm disposition, talking it through with the other party, taking responsibility, separating the issues from the person, seeking a respected mediator, listening to the other’s point of view as well as consulting with HR were mostly suggested.

I particularly found these articles on managing conflict interesting: One by Alexander Kjerulf and another by Lee Jay Berman (I won’t tell, indulge away 🙂 ).

In my opinion, “it’s business and not personal.” Individuals must be careful to distinguish between the two. Shying away from conflict situations won’t solve it, neither would allowing yourself be won over every time. I would rather a situation where we are able to ‘win at work even in the face of conflict’.