Conflict Management Mistakes To Avoid In The Workplace

Some topics need to be argued out, and disagreements can actually strengthen a relationship. Your organization may also face conflicts. Anytime a group of people comes together, there will likely be some level of differing opinions. Therefore managing workplace conflict can be a tricky task, however ignoring an issue will definitely do more damage than addressing it early on, no matter how uncomfortable it may be to do so.

Diversity is essential to building a successful team, which means that your team is also likely to face conflict. Knowing how to deal with conflicting personalities and working styles will help make you a better team leader. Members of your team may have contrasting work styles that could actually be incompatible, some may have cultural differences, while others may face personality clashes.

Conflict in the workplace can be a healthy and positive for your company as long as it is handled appropriately and respectfully. It usually indicates that you have a variety of personality types, each employing their own way of approaching problems and solving them to ensure the success of the team.

However, if workplace conflict goes unmanaged, it can erupt into a much larger issue, or even result in a valued employee leaving because they made to feel miserable due to an unresolved problem.

The trouble is that most managers are not taught how to effectively manage conflicts at work. They develop the skills to become an expert in their job, but lack formal training in those important people skills and are just expected to pick them up as they go.

You need to learn how to manage conflict by avoiding these common management mistakes:

  1. Not using active listening
    Not listening is an easy trap for managers to fall into when dealing with employee conflicts. Being an active listener is essential to resolving conflicts in a healthy and respectful manner that will also build a stronger foundation in the relationship which will bode well for the future of the team and how you lead them. You want to do more than simply solve the conflict; you also want to prevent future conflicts. Active Listening establishes that you are a manager who values their team members, supports their efforts and contributions and encourages them in all their endeavours. That kind of goodwill will go a long way toward establishing a positive culture within the team and help you to be more successful in all aspects of team leadership.
  2. Inaction
    Ignoring team conflicts will not make them go away. Unfortunately, most managers choose this approach when dealing with workplace conflict. Inaction can actually sabotage your organization because if a problem goes unresolved, it can grow into resentment and that can derail future projects even after the dispute itself becomes irrelevant. Inaction can also lead to tense relationships between your employees and this can hamper their ability to work well collaboratively in order to achieve the goals and projects of the team.

Therefore it is most important to make sure that you take into account everyone’s opinion. Team members feel able to express themselves without fear of your reaction, or of further inaction. As the leader, it is your responsibility to create a work environment that enables people to thrive, respect each other and then work well together.

  1. Ignorance of the issue
    Never assume that the only people affected by workplace conflict are those involved in the issue. Every employee in your office or department can be affected by the stress resulting from conflict. It is very important to make yourself aware of all sides of the issue so that you can fairly help to resolve it in a way that will make all parties feel they were heard and that outcome is acceptable to all concerned.

Here are few more tips:

  • Be open-minded when listening to the issue
  • Do not take sides
  • Follow company policies when resolving the issue
  • Be respectful of the differences which may have sparked the issue
  • Be mindful of your language when discussing the issue
  • Get HR involved, but only when necessary
  • Make sure the issue is truly resolved and the outcome is acceptable to the parties involved

Dealing with conflicts at work basically comes down to the issue of respect. Effective team leaders let their employees know that they value their contributions to the team, acknowledge those contributions, and support and encourage them to be the best they can be. Therefore, when you do not actively listen or avoid dealing with conflict altogether, you appear to be saying that those disagreements are not worthy of your time. In addition, making conflict into a competition occurs if you let your pride get in the way of your work and if you try to resolve conflicts simply from a position of authority, as this approach can create greater animosity.

Keep these key management mistakes in mind, and you will help conflict become a tool for your organization’s success instead of allowing it to impact negatively on your team’s achievements.

Sandy Chernoff
Sandy Chernoff
SANDY'S 30 years of didactic and clinical teaching in study clubs and continuing dental education, coupled with her almost 40 years of Dental Hygiene practice bring a wealth of experience to her interactive soft skills workshops. With her education background she easily customizes interactive sessions to suit the specific needs of her clients. Her energetic and humorous presentation style has entertained and informed audiences from Victoria to New York City. Sandy’s client list includes law firms, teaching institutions, volunteer and professional organizations and conferences, businesses, and individuals. Her newest project is turning her live workshops into e-learning programs using an LMS platform. Her teaching and education background have helped her to produce meaningful and somewhat interactive courses for the learners wanting the convenience of e-learning options. As the author of 5 Secrets to Effective Communication, Sandy has demonstrated her ability to demystify the complexities of communication so that the reader can learn better strategies and approaches which will greatly improve their communication skills and ultimately reduce conflict, resentment, disappointment, complaining, and confusion. As a result, the reader will be able to increase productivity, efficiency and creativity, improve all the relationships in their lives and ultimately enjoy a happier, healthier existence! Sandy blogs regularly on her two websites on the various soft skills topics that are featured in her workshops and e-learning programs.
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