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Handling Workplace Conflict – Myths and Reality

April 18, 2016 

Handling Workplace ConflictWorkplace conflict is much more common than you probably think. Yet, it is nothing to be ashamed of or swept under a rug. To truly understand workplace conflict, you need to understand some basic facts about the myths and reality of workplace conflict. The myths about workplace conflict are:

  1. It is not nice to have conflict. This idea is ingrained in our psyche. From childhood, you are taught that it is not nice to have conflict and you should always put a smiling face on it. Therefore, it is simply wrong to have conflict.
  2. Conflicts will resolve themselves over time, so there is no need for me to get involved. This is one of the more common approaches taken by managers. It’s a hands-off approach to dealing with conflict.
  3. A true team would never have any conflict. When true team spirit prevails, there would be no conflict or even a chance for it. All is sweetness and light in a good team.

And now for the reality:

  1. It is not nice to have conflict – If it is not nice to have conflict, is it better to grind your teeth and suffer in silence? You get to be the nice guy, but you are probably heading towards a major meltdown.
  2. Conflicts will resolve themselves over time, so there is no need for me to get involved – This is probably one of the most common myths about conflict and one that produces disastrous results. If a manager fails to address workplace conflict head-on will find themselves dealing with a much bigger problem in the future. Most conflicts that involve minor disagreements or matters that are trivial tend to resolve and work themselves out over time. Larger disagreements or conflicts tend not go away without some type of intervention.
  3. A true team would never have any conflict – A team without conflict is one where the team members have nothing of value to contribute and no passion for their job. It is a group working according to the direction of the leader and with no scope for any creative ideas to emerge.

Workplace ConflictYou should realize that conflict is inevitable and working out a solution is the major task of the manager. One of the main keys to handling workplace conflict is to stay focused on the problems and not the personalities of the individuals involved in the conflict. A good way to avoid dealing with larger conflicts later is to confront them in the early stages.

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