Causes of Workplace Conflict

Workplace conflict is inevitable. When people of differing backgrounds, experience, and work styles are brought together, there are sure to be bumps along the way. Those bumps can be brought on by:

  • Differences in personality
  • Irritating habits of others
  • Perceived inequities or unfairness
  • Lack of clear job roles and expectations
  • Mergers, acquisitions, layoffs
  • Poor change management skills
  • Breakdown in communication
What’s important is how workers cope with conflict and how to work together to solve it.

Defining Conflict Resolution Strategies

Everyone has a way they like to manage conflict. Each of the ways have their own pros and cons as well.

This strategy involves putting the needs of the other party ahead of your own. This style usually takes place when you either simply give in or are persuaded to give in.

This style may be used by someone if:

  • They feel like they have no choice but to agree to the other party’s point-of-view
  • They care less about the issue than the other party
  • They just want to keep the peace
Someone who uses this strategy mostly tries to ignore the conflict, hoping it will go away and resolve itself. This person would not speak to either party involved in the conflict.

This style may be used by someone if:

  • They need time to think about the situation
  • They fear resentment from the other party
  • They are too busy to deal with a conflict
  • They see the conflict as trivial
  • They don’t think they will win
This conflict resolution style works to find a solution that meets the needs of all parties. Rather than trying to find the middle ground, the solution would satisfy everyone – a win-win scenario.

This style may be used by someone if:

  • There are multiple perspectives that need to be addressed
  • There is an important relationship among the parties
  • It’s imperative the solution please everyone
  • Multiple stakeholders are represented
This style involves not giving in to others’ viewpoints or wants. A person will stand firm in what they think is correct and not back down until they get their way.

This style may be used by someone if:

  • They are standing up for rights or morals
  • They need a quick decision and force others into it
  • They need to end a long-term conflict
  • They need to stop a terrible decision from being made
This can be in situations where morals dictate that a specific course of action is taken, when there is no time to try and find a different solution, or when there is an unpopular decision to be made. It can resolve disputes quickly, but there is a high chance of morale and productivity being lessened.

When compromising during conflict resolution, the person attempts to find a solution that tries to partially please all parties. This style works to find a middle ground between the needs of all participants.

This style may be used by someone if:

  • They feel it is more important to reach a solution rather than the greatest solution
  • They are willing to settle for a temporary solution
  • They have a deadline that is approaching
  • They are at an impasse

Necessary Skills to Resolve Conflict

Certain skills can be more beneficial than others when working to resolve conflict at work. Developing these skills can help ease the process for mediators.

Communication skills are needed to facilitate any meetings between the conflicting parties. Mediators should be able to listen well, negotiate fairly, keep an open dialogue, and work to stem any provoking behaviors.

Developing emotional intelligence will help mediators in their efforts. They will be able to be adaptable and analytical while helping others recognize their triggers.

Having empathy in these situations can be beneficial. Mediators will be able to build trust, show compassion and understanding, give constructive feedback, and embrace differing opinions while remaining unbiased.

Some conflicts may require creative problem solving. Being able to develop creative solutions can help keep everyone happy in a situation. Being able to collaborate with others, make decisions, and define goals can help everyone involved.

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