0132 – 8 Office Conflicts You Can’t Avoid


We’re talking about 8 types of workplace conflict

By the end of this episode:

  • you’ll learn 8 types of workplace conflict
  • how to avoid or address these conflicts if you have them

Describe the problem

…Work is a necessary thing, and when you work with people, conflict is often an unavoidable thing. While not all conflict is bad, ongoing conflict can cause workplace discomfort, tension and stress. Learn in this episode how to identify different types of conflict, and begin to address each one if you experience it at your workplace.

Segment #1

Psychologists Art Bell and Brett Hart determined these 8 causes and how to deal in 2002.

  1. Conflicting resources–there just aren’t enough paper clips to go around. Or Hank is always hogging the copier. Bell and Hart encourage facilitating negotiation between colleagues (I’ll take the noon spot if you’ll take 1pm) or management taking good care to make sure that everyone truly has what he/she needs to do the job well. If things get really bad, individuals may need to sit down and have an open conversation about where the conflict actually is, and how it can be resolved (if it can).
  2. Conflicting styles–Everyone works differently, according to his or her individual needs and personality. For instance, some people love the thrill of getting things done at the last minute, while others need the structure of strict deadlines to perform. However, when working styles clash, conflict can often occur.” To prevent and manage this type of conflict in your team, consider people’s working styles and natural group roles when building a team.
  3. Conflicting perceptions–All of us see the world through our own lens, and differences in perceptions of events can cause conflict, particularly where one person knows something that the other person doesn’t know, but doesn’t realize this.” Facilitating open communication is key here, as well as trying to eliminate gossip. Asking clarifying questions to better understand someone is also important.
  4. Conflicting pressures–We often have to depend on our colleagues to get our work done. However, what happens when you need a report from your colleague by noon, and he’s already preparing a different report for someone else by that same deadline? Conflicting pressures are similar to conflicting goals; the only difference is that conflicting pressures usually involve urgent tasks, while conflicting goals typically involve projects with longer timelines.” If you’re the boss, try to rearrange deadlines…or if you’re feeling under the gun, do what you can to ask for extensions or a rearrangement of your schedule or better allocation of tasks.

Segment #2

  1. Conflicting goals–”Sometimes we have conflicting goals in our work. For instance, one of our managers might tell us that speed is most important goal with customers. Another manager might say that in-depth, high-quality service is the top priority.” Again, clear communication or clarification is key here. If you don’t understand, ask…and if needed, negotiate your way to better or more clear goals that work for everyone.  
  2. Conflicting roles–”Sometimes we have to perform a task that’s outside our normal role or responsibilities. If this causes us to step into someone else’s “territory,” then conflict and power struggles can occur. The same can happen in reverse – sometimes we may feel that a particular task should be completed by someone else.” Having a clear task outline is very important…but so is the mentality that sometimes a team atmosphere means picking up tasks that don’t “belong” to you. Set clear expectations on both end of the spectrum to avoid confusion.
  3. Different personal values–Imagine that your boss has just asked you to perform a task that conflicts with your ethical standards. Do you do as your boss asks, or do you refuse? If you refuse, will you lose your boss’s trust, or even your job?” Ethical leadership is important here, but so is preserving your integrity. Know yourself well…and carefully “pick which hill you’ll die on.”


Final Thoughts:

#1 Unpredictable policies-”When rules and policies change at work and you don’t communicate that change clearly to your team, confusion and conflict can occur. In addition, if you fail to apply workplace policies consistently with members of your team, the disparity in treatment can also become a source of dissension.” Clearly communicate any and all changes, and what’s expected. If you don’t understand a change, ask.

  • Elijah’s Thoughts
  • Sarah’s Thoughts


In Closing

If you have a question, comment, or funny story about [INSERT SHOW TOPIC] we have a private SafeSpace on facebook where we talk about all sorts of social, professional, and romantic relationship topics, and after every show you can go there and share you story, get some advice from great people or just hang out. Both Sarah and I are there every day and you can be there too, just go to www.relationspodcast.com/join and click the “Join Now’ button.

Until we meet again, keep striving to make every relationship you have the best it can possibly be, including (and especially) the one with yourself. We’ll talk soon.


source: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/eight-causes-conflict.htm



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