When a group of people comes together to achieve a common goal, conflict becomes inevitable. However, conflict in the workplace can be effectively managed with proper communication.

Embrace the conflict If you are facing constant conflict with your team member, then you should know that workplace conflict is common.

According to research, over 85% of working people experience conflict in the workplace. Moreover, 29% of employees report they cope with workplace conflict on a daily basis with coworkers, customers, or even their manager.

Oftentimes, when you try to avoid or eliminate workplace conflict, bullying workplace behavior may increase. We need to accept and embrace conflict in the workplace in a healthy way as if it is an unwritten part of our job description. Irrespective of how much we try to eliminate it, the fact remains that we can never truly escape from conflict.

In a Forbes article, author, leadership advisor and chairman at N2Growth, Mike Myatt, writes “conflict in the workplace is unavoidable. It will find you whether you look for it or not. The ability to recognize conflict, understand the nature of the conflict, and to be able to bring swift and just resolution to conflict will serve you well as a leader – the inability to do so may well be your downfall.”


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Vanessa Van Edwards, national bestselling author and founder of Science of People, shares a similar belief. In a recent post, she writes “Trying to eliminate conflict entirely won’t get you very far – the solution is learning to handle it properly when it does arise.”

Is conflict affecting your work?

Workplace conflict primarily signifies that there is a lack of clear communication between team members. It also means that they are not properly equipped to deal with disagreements, arguments, and conflict in a healthier way while working. 

Mike writes “Conflict rarely resolves itself – in fact, conflict normally escalates if not dealt with proactively and properly. It is not at all uncommon to see what might have been a non-event manifest itself into a monumental problem if not resolved early on.” He adds “Unresolved conflict often results in loss of productivity, the stifling of creativity, and the creation of barriers to cooperation and collaboration.”

Stress and conflict: A match made in the workplace

Even if you have an excellent team composed of talented and skilled members, it is highly likely that you will experience conflict in the workplace eventually.

One of the main reasons for workplace conflict is work-related stress. According to a 2016 study, occupational stress can often lead to conflict at work and in personal life. Moreover, it can also lead to depressive symptoms.

The study states “Previous studies in various populations suggest that social anxiety, work-related stress, and stressful life events may contribute to depression. Various occupational stressors have been identified as potential risk factors for depressive symptoms.”

The study also indicates that depression “can result in direct economic costs by reducing productivity because depressive symptoms have an impact on their decision-making and ability to get along with others.” 

Do you feel stressed at work?

In “How to Stop Absorbing a Coworker’s Stress”, by author Vanessa Van Edwards, she indicates that “an estimated 34 percent of conflict is caused by workplace stress.” She adds that different kinds of workplace stress can lead to problems among team members. These can include issues such as:

•             Meeting deadlines

•             Managing important decisions

•             Mergers and acquisitions

•             Loss of a team member

•             Recruitment of a new team member

The toxic element

Apart from stress, sometimes conflicts can arise in the workplace due to certain difficult people. Some team members are just toxic individuals who are difficult to get along with. The behavior of these toxic team members can not only affect the team dynamics but also cripple the productivity of the team.

Toxic personalities at the workplace are a reality and should be dealt with professionally, with purpose, and demonstrate desired workplace behavior.

Vanessa believes that “it is important that leaders carefully manage such individuals. Left without intervention, people with toxic personalities can cause immeasurable damage to the happiness and productivity of the entire team.”

Estimates show that over 94% of employees have encountered at least one toxic personality in the workplace during their careers. Vanessa adds “If you have somebody with this personality type on your team, conflict resolution is likely to involve more than just a sit-down and chat.”

Dealing with toxic coworkers may require management to rearrange teams or other disciplinary measures.


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