4 Different Types of Conflict Management in the Workplace

April 11, 2022by Valerie Dansereau

In a perfect world, the workplace would always be a peaceful, non-toxic environment where people get along and there are few if any conflicts. In reality, the workplace often consists of people from diverse backgrounds with different goals and expectations. When conflict happens in the workplace, there isn’t a single solution that always works. There are several different types of conflict management in the workplace.

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Unfortunately, many people prefer to avoid conflict rather than confronting it. The problem with this approach is that some conflicts don’t blow over quickly. Instead, they intensify and start to affect others in the workplace that weren’t initially involved in the conflict. This can lead to absenteeism and high staff turnover. For those that remain in the workplace, there’s a constant air of tension.

Avoidance sometimes means separating the conflicting parties for a period of time. By assigning them to unrelated projects, they can cool off so that the conflict deescalates. Some people benefit from having time and space apart, but a manager who almost always attempts to avoid addressing conflict may be seen as weak and ineffective.

Giving In When Conflicts Are Minor

One of the types of conflict management in the workplace is known as accommodating. This means letting the other party win rather than continuing to battle. This approach may be the best solution if you’re not as determined to get your way as the other party and you’d rather keep the peace. It’s not a solution to every conflict, but it may be the best solution when minor disagreements need to be resolved as quickly as possible.

Competitive or Authoritarian

Some people are headstrong and refuse to budge until they get what they want. They refuse to back down or compromise, and this can exacerbate disputes. Managers sometimes handle conflict by getting in the middle of it and deciding what’s going to happen. There’s no discussion or attempts to find a solution that works for both parties.

Using this decisive approach may be an effort to appear strong and in charge, but when things that are important to team members aren’t discussed and they’re not allowed to voice their concerns, they may feel that managers are unreasonable. The one benefit of taking this approach is that conflicts are resolved quickly rather than letting them drag on or intensify.

Working Together to Find a Compromise

The best approach to conflict management is often to work together to find a win-win solution that works for everyone involved. Collaboration means taking the time to let each of the team members that are in conflict explain their side of what has happened along with what possible solutions would be acceptable to them. It requires them to speak calmly to each other without losing control of their emotions.

This approach gets to the root of the problem and allows team members to feel heard. The goal is to find a compromise and a solution that meets at least part of the needs of each person. The drawback to this approach is that it’s time-consuming.

You may need to try several different approaches when trying to resolve conflict. When different types of conflict management in the workplace don’t seem to be resolving disputes, it may be time to involve an outside company to handle mediation and restore peace. An outside mediator can offer a completely neutral perspective and may be able to see possible solutions that those in conflict may not be able to see.

If you have a workplace conflict that needs to be addressed or if you’re looking for training in conflict resolution, reach out to Pollack Peacebuilding Systems and get one step closer to a relaxing work environment.


Valerie Dansereau

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