Deal With Workplace Conflict?
Tips for Managing Workplace Conflict
Direct Discussion - How to Approach a
Co-worker Why We Avoid
Dealing With Conflict
Are All Conflicts the Result of Personality
Clashes or Poor Behaviour
Communicating in Conflict
Managing Anger - Yours and Others
Being Hard on the Problem - Not the Person
The Role of Assumptions, Perceptions and
Expectations in Conflict
Are all conflicts the result of personality clashes or poor behaviour?
While conflicts are impacted by our
personality and ways of approaching work and others, systemic issues
often play a large role in creating conflicts. Systemic issues or
workplace problems exist when an employee, pursuing a legitimate work
related goal or task, bumps up against another employee pursuing a
legitimate work related goal or task.
The “bump” can result from:
procedures being in place,
- differing or even
oppositional institutional roles and goals,
- poorly articulated
or conflicting departmental purposes and goals,
decision-making processes, or
- lack of needed
These are just a few examples of the many
ways that working to get our job done can place us in conflict with
another worker – trying to get their job done. While the personalities
of the employees may impact how the conflict is addressed, the conflict
is inherent or predictable in the situation.
Examples of systemic problems include:
- an overloaded
support staff member responding to multiple requests from faculty
with no clear guidelines for which work is most important,
- timetabling in a
department where the process and the priorities are unclear,
perspectives on how to accomplish a joint task with no agreed upon
- interdependent roles
with no built-in communication mechanism.
It is always important to separate the
person from the problem. Recognizing that the problem is a work
issue, not a personal issue, can be the first
step in addressing the conflict in a productive manner. Identifying it
as a work issue opens avenues for solving the problem which are not
personal, such as:
- placing the issue on
a meeting agenda,
- expressing your
concerns on the issue to a supervisor, or employer, or
- discussing the issue
directly with the individual as a work problem to be solved.
The focus becomes the problem (e.g. lack
of procedures or guidelines, needed resources, departmental
communication, etc.) and not the individual. For more information on
depersonalizing the problem, see
on the Problem – Not the Person.