Research Evaluates the Role of Emotions and Work Engagement in Workplace Relationship Conflicts - Pollack Peacebuilding Systems

Summary of:

Yuan, L., Yu, Y., and Liu, P., “Are teams experiencing relationship conflicts destined to fail: The role of emotions and work engagement” (2019). Chinese Management Studies.

Background & Theory:

Previous research has indicated the harmful effects that relationship conflict can have on employees in the workplace. Finding ways of confronting relationship conflict in a productive way is necessary for employees to continue working efficiently.


Research was completed to answer the following questions:

1. What is the relationship between relationship conflict and job performance with work engagement as the mediator?
2. What effect does the emotional intelligence of team leaders have on the relationship between relationship conflict and employee work engagement?


Data were collected from 363 individuals across 73 teams in service businesses. The method used with these data was an empirical examination of the cross-level model with the hierarchical linear model.


Research results indicate a negative correlation between relationship conflict and job satisfaction with work engagement as a mediator. Additionally, the implementation of team leaders with emotional intelligence mitigated the negative effects of relationship conflict on work engagement. On the other hand, the suppression of emotion by employees due to relationship conflict only intensified the negative outcomes of the conflict.

What We Can Learn:

Looking over this research, we can take away this key insight:

• Considering that relationship conflict can have detrimental consequences to work engagement and job satisfaction, team leaders must have tools to combat such conflict. Emotional intelligence is one such tool that allows for employees to process emotions and mitigate the harmful effects of relationship conflict.

Final Takeaways

For Consultants: The necessity of emotional intelligence within organizational leadership should not be taken lightly. Emotional intelligence can help team leaders have a better grasp on dealing with ongoing relationship conflict.

For Everyone: Practicing emotional intelligence can be a very beneficial avenue for processing and dealing with emotion related to conflicts. If there is relationship conflict at work, practicing emotional intelligence has the potential to help you better navigate it.

Noah Shaw

Noah is the Peace Operations Coordinator at Pollack Peacebuilding Systems and holds a Master's in Dispute Resolution from the Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law.

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