Conflict at Work
Kinds of Workplace Conflicts
Let’s start by identifying where conflicts happen. Think about the kinds of conflicts that happen around your workplace.
• Disagreements over turf (who should do what)
• Disagreements over policy (how things should be done)
• Conflicts of personality and style
Common Ways of Dealing with Conflict
These are some of the ways we typically deal with conflict. Do you see yourself in any of them?
• Avoid the conflict.
• Deny the conflict; wait until it goes away.
• Change the subject.
• React emotionally; become aggressive, abusive, hysterical, or frightening.
• Find someone to blame.
• Make excuses.
• Delegate the situation to someone else.
All of these responses are nonproductive. Some of them are actually destructive. This is why learning to manage conflict is so important.
Effect on Work Relationships
The workplace is a system of relationships. Relationships have many different aspects; here are several examples:
Respect for boss
When conflicts are handled well, there’s a positive effect on work relationships. When they are not, these factors can deteriorate. Productivity and the free expression of ideas are also impacted.
Sometimes in relationships people get stuck in a pattern of distress where one person pursues for connection in a demanding style and the partner feels overwhelmed and criticized and perhaps shuts down or maybe gets defensive. Ever wonder what is going on for the more withdrawing partner? If we get below the surface, research shows that the more quiet partner is as distressed as the more vocal partner. They often say things like, "I feel like I can't get it right or I am numb or I don't want to make it worse between us." They often report feeling rejected, inadequate, fearful of failure, overwhelmed, numb, frozen, afraid, not wanted, judged or shamed. To find out more about what it is to have a more withdrawing style listen to this podcast called "The Couch."
Evelyn Schmechtig Cochran