The inevitability of workplace conflict

18 Apr

It’s inevitable that at some point managers will have to deal with workplace conflict of some kind. Why is it inevitable? Because people are involved and it’s human nature for people to have differing opinions, therefore managers need to know how to identify potential problems.

But that’s just the start; they then need to step in to resolve issues in such a way that they actually have a positive outcome for the individuals involved, the team as a whole and the task.

Not too difficult then!

Walk into any office in the world, talk to the staff and you will be given any number of reasons why people get annoyed and irritated by their colleagues – anything from talking loudly to being ignored in meetings.

It’s all workplace conflict and it’s possible to put these into three categories:

Intrapersonal: this is conflict within the individual, for example, frustration with goals or achievements or when we are at odds with a decision we have to make. This type of conflict often leads to…

Interpersonal: this is between individuals. This could typically be a disagreement with a boss, an argument with a colleague, or a heated debate in a meeting.

Intergroup: this is between groups, teams and departments in the workplace and often stems from a lack of understanding of how one another works and how one impacts on the other. 

By the same token, we can also put what causes conflict neatly into three categories:

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first one is Communication. Whether it’s sarcastic, insincere or just plain lying, infrequent and ineffective communication can lead to any number of conflicts.

Personal issues can cause conflict whether through a difference of opinion, differing personalities, or a perceived lack of respect or empathy.

People can sometimes view the Process as wrong, ineffective or inefficient and hold the belief that things should be done in a different way and this where conflict stems from.

At Catalyst we can show you how best to deal with such conflicts, eradicate personal and communication problems and make process issues work in your favour. Check out our website for more information and to book a course:


Tags: , , , , ,

4 responses to “The inevitability of workplace conflict

  1. Cemanthe

    April 18, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Good to see you blogging Nick! Certainly some interesting perspectives here. I think a fourth aspect is Perspective, as everything we do or say comes from our own belief system, past experiences or current situation. It really is all about how you see things, and the way you see them is based on this. Knowing this allowed me to be more flexible when it came to communication with ‘difficult’ people and to deal differently with situations of conflict.

  2. Stephanie Bennis

    April 18, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Workplace conflict IS inevitable and the sooner people realize it’s OK to address their issues rather than bottle them up or have it come out in passive agressive ways, the sooner everyone can move on work together again. Great post!

    • Catalyst Business Dynamics

      April 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm

      Thanks Stephanie, totally agree. Creating an environment that encourages staff to voice concerns is beneficial for everyone.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: