Successfully Dealing with Workplace Conflict

Conflict in the workplace is inevitable, in fact, constructive conflict can be a powerful tool for innovation and growth. However, when it is negative conflict, it can have a destructive effect on your employee’s, and you must take steps to find a resolution that works for everyone without interrupting workflow. Learn how to deal with conflict by implementing these tips into your daily life and sharing them with your managerial team. Knowing how to handle issues as they appear will not only improve productivity levels, but also create a more enjoyable work environment for everyone involved.

What Can Cause Workplace Conflict?

There are numerous reasons for workplace conflict. Employees’ personalities clashing is a common cause, but you might even discover that a different working style is enough to spark a quarrel that requires your intervention. These are some of the top reasons for workplace conflict that we’ve come across:

  1. Lack of communication or ‘crossed-wires’
  2. Employees feeling like they aren’t being heard or listened to
  3. No feedback, constructive criticism or praise
  4. Not enough resources to enable staff to work effectively
  5. Employees being overworked

There are, of course, many other reasons that could cause conflict between employees as it is a highly situational issue. Every instance of conflict will need its own individual resolution.

Tips for Dealing with Conflict in the Workplace

The goal with handling any workplace disagreement is reaching a resolution that everyone involved is happy with. There are several measures you may take, depending on whether you are an HR manager, an employee, or anything in between.

1)   Be Prepared for Conflict

Conflict will always arise from time to time, no matter what you do. Your workers will spend the majority of their day working alongside one another, which will inevitably result in some friction, differences of opinion, and irritation. One of the easiest things you can do is to acknowledge that there will be instances when you are unable to avoid conflict entirely. Not that you should always accept it, but being prepared will allow you to approach rectifying the situation in a much more positive manner than you would otherwise be able to.

2)   Open the Lines of Communication

Poor communication, or communication that is misconstrued, is one of the most common causes of workplace conflict, according to research. Consequently, to reduce the likelihood that it may occur in the future, it may be beneficial to consider measures to enhance communication within your team as well as within the organisation. It is also imperative that employees know who they can talk to when they come across an issue in their day-to-day work life, or if they have personal circumstances which are affecting their work.

3)   Offer Mediation

In many circumstances, disputes between workers may be addressed with only a small amount of involvement from an HR representative. When it comes to resolving issues, there are instances when holding meetings as a mediator is the only choice. In these situations, you should always aim to facilitate communication and not show any bias. You must get both parties involved together and put any major concerns that they are facing to the forefront as soon as possible. The goal here is not just to clear the air, but also to make certain that the problem is addressed and that the likelihood of future disagreements is minimized.

4)   Provide Support Moving Forward

Once your employees’ conflict has been resolved, it is imperative that support is offered moving forwards. Take time to check in with them individually to check that their situation is better, or if the issues which caused the conflict are starting to become a problem again. Make sure you provide appropriate support. If the conflict was caused by stress have you given them any resources to handle this in the future? If it happened because they felt overworked, have you reached a resolution between them and their line manager regarding the amount of work they have to do?

5)   Don’t Ignore the Issues That Caused the Conflict

If something has caused tension in one area of the company, it is more than probable that it will be a problem throughout the organization. While accepting conflict is a good idea from time to time, this does not mean that you should ignore it and do nothing about it. In fact, avoiding disagreement may be one of the worst things you can do. Turning a blind eye to conflict may result in the situation being more problematic, and it can also result in people involved becoming even more agitated, with some of them even taking their frustrations out on you. You may discover that the conflict affects more than just them, spilling over into the rest of the team and generating waves that will be much more difficult to control. Once you have identified a conflict situation, speak to other employees, and see if they are feeling the same way.

Don’t Let Conflict Take Over the Workplace

We all have our own ways of handling conflict, from avoiding it entirely to confronting the person causing the problem head on. Consider using these tips to help resolve conflict situations, and remember, If this is your first time resolving conflict it may not go smoothly at first but by following some simple steps, you can find ways to work through any disagreements.


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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  1. Great subject, Sandy. People have very different tolerance for conflict often formed by their personal experience from growing up.
    But in international settings – and workplaces with people from more than one country are culturally multinational – we sometimes forget that different cultures also have very different attitudes towards conflict and expectations about whether they must be solved collaboratively or whether “the boss” cuts through and dictates a resolution.