Workplace Conflict

Concepts of workplace conflict and recommended responses


shutterstock_136640054 1732I believe conflict is a natural consequence of human interaction. I believe it is a necessary part of life and the driver behind all change and evolution. Its very nature makes it a challenge to manage, our very nature can make this challenge even harder. All organisations experience some degree of workplace conflict. The lucky ones are those where it is dealt with quickly, adequately and appropriately by those involved so that they get to move on to the next organisational challenge. This can often be described as a vibrancy or dynamism in an organisation.

There can sometimes be confusion as to what constitutes a workplace conflict. Most organisations exist in challenging environments. These challenges can sometime manifest directly on the people who work for those organisations. Many differences of opinion can occur during business operations, most of which get associated with the normal “cut-and -thrust” of an active workplace. There may be periods of high activity, stress or anxiety. These are not in themselves issues which would be regarded as conflict or even causes of conflict.

A severe workplace conflict is an argument, disagreement or relationship breakdown which becomes protracted and embroiled and threatens to affect the working lives of not only the participants themselves but also potentially those of their colleagues.

The point at which the risk to the workplace become serious is when it becomes personal, when normal business explanations for actions or behaviours just do not stand up for one or more parties. At this stage the effect of emotion will be higher on behaviours than normal, and relationship dynamics will be become characterised by anxiety and unpredictability.

Potential root causes are competing personal values, resource allocations and/or business outcomes, but in essence conflict can find many innocuous antecedents.

Sometimes we refer to these as “personality conflicts”.


Employee Training and Development combined with good Procedures, Policies and Practices are all essential components in addressing the many risks posed by workplace conflict.



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