Workplace conflict is something you all might have come across. It is something that is pretty ubiquitous in the workplace. Above that, it is unavoidable. It is inevitable, no matter what the field of work is. it is very crucial to learn to manage conflicts and deal with them on the spot when required, or how to deliver your thoughts across. Because conflict doesn’t resolve itself. It starts escalating with the passing of time if you don't handle it properly and timely. Unknowingly, unresolved workplace conflicts can lead to the transfer of bad energy in the work environment. You need to analyze how much the conflict is costing your organization.
Reasons for workplace conflict
Workplace conflicts can occur in various forms and at different hierarchies/ departments. Poor communication among team members can lead to conflicts. Other reasons for the same are the inability to adapt to changes easily, education level, and also passive-aggressive behaviours to lead to workplace conflict. If you want the outcome of the conflict to be positive, you need to first recognize what type of conflict you are dealing with. We have listed frequent conflicts and how you can go through them:
Leadership-based workplace conflict
Firstly, each leader has a different leadership style. Some leaders are very proactive, while others might be reactive. While some leaders might be direct, others are more open and welcoming. Also, some leaders might be strict towards rules and changes, others might be flexible around them. And, each leader has a very different way to lead their people. Conflicts arise because not everyone accepts every leadership style. For example: Imagine a leader who has a reactive style towards work has a subordinate who is very proactive; the subordinate might not agree with the way his leader is handling a lot of work-related situations. The reason being the proactive nature will push the employee to work and execute tasks through a different approach.
The solution is to acknowledge the different personalities of people. Leaders should identify and analyze their subordinates more carefully. Additionally, the frame around some principles and values around the leadership position helps to provide a smooth flow on how decisions are being made. some communication and delegation accordingly will reduce the conflicts arising due to leadership styles in the organization.
Workstyle based conflicts
No two people can be the same in the workplace. Their working style, their preferences, and their targets all are different. Workplace conflicts occur because people differ on how to get the work done.
The working style influences it, at large. Say one employee is more people-oriented and wants views from different employees on how to do the work. The other employee might be more task-driven, i.e, wants the work to be done as quickly as possible and move to other tasks. This was just an example. There could be an employee who prefers to take time to research around, think, and then do the work, while other employees might straightaway start working on the task.
The solution is to understand the different work styles people prefer and try to frame a path to work around style differences. Everyone has a different working speed and style. You need to monitor that and navigate your way through the differences. Try to embrace the differences and craft a way to use different work styles as a plus to work in harmony effectively.
Strategy-based workplace conflict
Further, you can see this workplace conflict is mostly between decision-makers in the organization. There might be different views on how to strategically handle a particular situation. Also, different perspectives on how to plan the strategic framework for some upcoming events. Every organization has to plan strategically aligning its vision, mission, and objectives. But you must do those coils in a number of ways. The top decision-makers might not agree with each other on some strategies, because of different perspectives.
To avoid these types of conflict, the part that you should give due importance to is: what is best for the organization and which strategy will help the organization achieve its goals and objectives. When you do this, coming to common ground is easy. One should avoid thinking that my opinion/ strategy was not given importance. You must deal with this conflict as a problem for which an effective outcome needed to be found.
You might want to read: Tips to overcome communication barrier
Personality-based workplace conflicts
Personalities are something you don’t have control over. Also, when you escalate the work style conflict, it leads to a personality workplace conflict. The values, beliefs, and emotional feelings can differ a lot and are under no one’s control. You might not like everyone you communicate with, but don't let this very thing define things for you.
To avoid personality conflict: sit and try having a conversation around with them. Try to find answers in terms of what and how, it leads to a more objective conversation and understanding. The how part helps you understand the way people are wired into different situations. Don’t emphasize why questions because there is a high chance that such questions can trigger the defensive switch of the person you are with. To form that mutual understanding and trust, both parties should try to open up a little bit.
Demographic characteristics based on conflicts
These conflicts arise due to differences in age, gender perspectives, educational backgrounds, and ethnicity. An organization comprises diverse people from different backgrounds. To expect that every employee will be in harmony with the other employees is a bit of an unrealistic goal. There can be huge differences in opinions as to how to take some tasks forward, how to proceed with work, and how they work around things. An employee who is forty-plus might find difficulty working with the style carried out by some employee who is in their twenties.
The key to this is to accept the differences mutually. Make attempts to try other employees’ points of view, this will help you communicate better. Embrace the differences, and mould them in such a way to bring about positive changes.
How to resolve workplace conflict?
Wherever there are humans involved, there is a lot of scope for conflict. It is a very natural phenomenon; you just might not agree with the person standing right next to you. This very workplace conflict can be used as a powerful tool strategically if you just know how to make it work in favour of you to bring about some change from the situation, or against you to disrupt the situation more. To use conflicts to your advantage first as an organization you should identify if the conflict is functional in nature or dysfunctional. The reason being functional conflict lead to constructive outcomes, whereas dysfunctional conflicts make the situation worse. Mostly, functional conflicts lead to more cohesion in the organization, leading to efficient processes, and the quality of products/ services also increases.
There can be different workplace conflict resolution styles that you can use as an organization based on which style fits the scenario. Don't limit yourself to just employing one default style to resolve the conflict. One plan cannot work for every situation. Organizations generally use various styles such as compromising style, accommodating style, collaborative style, competitive style, or avoiding style.
What can be done?
There is no approved tip, or answer as to how to avoid/ resolve conflicts. But there are a few things that can be done to move it to a positive tangent. Like, such as trying to focus without being impartial, taking your time, analyzing the situation, and trying to bring positive energy to navigate through the disagreement. If you are a manager trying to help resolve the conflict, instead of jumping to conclusions instantaneously or judging the situation, you should pause and reflect on the situation. To proceed you can put across some neutral questions for the parties involved in the conflict. Neutral questions play their way around in such a way that helps deflate the negative energy between the parties involved. These questions help them take a pause which in turn widens their lens of the situation. This depicts that you are trying to come to a collaborative change. In order to diminish the rigid point of view towards conflict, try to refocus the situation towards new ideas and common goals and try to establish some consensus.
A workplace conflict is resolved only when all the parties involved in it are willing to work towards resolving it. You can always find a resolution to workplace conflict if there is a desire to do so. As you might have heard, where there is a will, there is a way. You just need to tune into some conversations, listen, communicate, empathize, forgive, and maybe a little compromise. All will be well if you have a strong desire to do so. There might be times, things won’t tune towards conflict resolution mostly in situations of dysfunctional conflicts. Take it as a signal and don't waste your precious time trying to navigate through something that is not willing to yield any result. Because there is only so much that one can do. In such situations always try to do the right thing.
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