Workplace conflict is a condition of discord existing between people working in the same organization. It is a situation where individuals are competing for positions, promotions, and other opportunities within the organization. Workplace conflicts usually arises due to genuine conflicts over goals, beliefs, or opinions; whereas sometimes it arises because of conflicts over resources, information or expertise. Workplace conflict usually takes many different forms in organizations. However, all types of conflict are avoidable if the parties can work together to find and resolve them.
The first step in managing workplace conflict is to understand the nature of the conflicts, their potential impact on the organization, and the best ways to prevent and manage them. It is important to identify the conflict and gain an understanding of its causes and effects. Workplace conflict may be based on a genuine belief that employees have (or don't have) regarding a particular topic such as quality standards, equality, or safety; or it could be based on a difference of opinion over a specific matter, such as how employees are supposed to use company computer systems. The causes and effects of workplace conflict can vary widely depending on the type of conflict and the individuals who are involved in them.
The most common type of workplace conflict occurs over issues of poor communication practices. Poor communication is defined as clear, subtle, and unfair feedback that are delivered in different ways to different employees. Workplace conflict that results from poor communication is one of the most common and least effective ways to deal with issues among coworkers. In order to successfully manage workplace conflict over poor communication, it is necessary for all parties to speak and listen carefully to each other while keeping clear, open lines of communication. If possible, a neutral third party should be brought into the workplace to monitor the communication and provide feedback on how the employee and the employer can improve the situation.
Another type of workplace conflict is due to differences in beliefs or values. These beliefs can range from race, sex, gender, religion, age, professional background, or culture. Similar to the "big issue" scenario above, these types of conflicts are often the result of a sincere difference of opinion, but can also be rooted in fear, intimidation, power play, and selfishness. The results of these types of conflicts usually do not reach a resolution, because each group has been unable to effectively communicate their differing perspectives to the other without irritating, offending, or offending the other.
Workplace conflicts personality clashes, on the other hand, are more often the result of a specific situation (e.g., sexual harassment, racial discrimination, work-related gossip, or simple disagreement) between employees who are members of different "cliques." Although there might be legitimate reasons for personality conflicts, the nature of the workplace as an entity characterized by a highly personalized and individualistic environment makes personality conflict particularly difficult circumstance to resolve. Unlike workplace conflict over poor communication or over topics that are not related to job related performance, personality conflicts are more often rooted in one person's desire to satisfy a need to be unique, to assert influence, or to feel special. In this situation, addressing the underlying cause of the conflict is usually the best solution to the problem.
The ultimate goal of workplace conflict resolution is always to ensure that a workplace is a place where people can be trusted to get along and do their jobs well. Unfortunately, human nature often precludes this possibility, because some individuals simply cannot get along with one another. Workplace conflict resolution is therefore always a delicate balance between an attempt to foster peace and harmony within the workplace, while still maintaining a high level of productivity. If you are unsure how to handle a specific dispute or problem involving two or more co-workers, you should consult with a professional conflict resolution consultant to help you resolve any potentially problematic situation.