Conflict can be defined as disagreement between two or more individuals or groups arising from differences of opinions, beliefs, or actions. It is a normal part of everyday life, given that individuals have different experiences, values, and beliefs that shape their perception of the world.
Conflict in the workplace can usually be associated with resource allocation, perceptions, and/ or values. In general, conflicts over resource allocation are the easiest to solve, since they can be looked at objectively and separated from personal opinions. Both parties may decide on an equitable solution or agree to let a superior make a decision and live with the consequences.
Conflicts that involve perceptions and values are often personal, and if left to fester it can take significant time and effort to determine the actual source of the problem and come to a decision that is satisfactory to both parties. They can also spread and create a toxic work environment for individuals on all sides of the conflict.
The following are some easy steps you can take to reduce conflict in the workplace:
- Remember that conflict is inevitable and does not reflect badly on you and that there are no winners and losers. The goal of conflict resolution is to come to an agreement that is of mutual benefit to both parties.
- Be proactive. If you feel that you have annoyed or made someone angry, ask to discuss it with them at the onset. Likewise, if you feel that you have been unfairly treated, use an assertive communication style and discuss it with your colleagues to resolve the issue. In this way, simple misunderstandings can be cleared up.
- The sooner you handle the conflict, the better. The longer a conflict goes unresolved, the larger it becomes and the more difficult it is to find the root of the problem.
- Take responsibility for your part in the conflict. If you’ve intentionally or unintentionally offended someone through your actions, acknowledge your part and move on.
- Once the conflict has been resolved, agree to move forward with a positive working relationship.
Ineffective ways to reduce conflict at work include being passive and thinking that a problem will go away if it is left unchecked. This only leads to resentment and further issues.
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