Types of Workplace Conflict | Pollack Peacebuilding Systems


You might not think of workplace conflicts in terms of the different categories they could fall into. Isn’t a fight just a fight? But there are different types of conflict in the workplace that can arise at any time leaving those involved, and those around it, feeling stressed, frustrated, and maybe even a little helpless. Understanding these different types of conflict in the workplace can lead to more effective management of them and faster resolutions.

Types of Conflict in the Workplace

Becoming familiar with different types of conflict in the workplace can help you apply more specific and unique interventions to them when they arise. Understanding the different needs, sensitivities, and approaches of these conflicts can help keep them remain manageable. Here are a few common types of workplace conflicts.

Leadership Conflict

Different leadership styles can inherently create conflict when individuals working with each other or for someone else feel stressed and unable to communicate. If someone takes a more direct approach to work while someone else focuses more on nurturing an inclusive and open style of communication, these differences can create tension which can evolve into conflict.

Work Style Differences

Types of conflict in the workplace include ruptures that can come from competing work styles. This can be especially tricky if you have to work closely on a project with someone who takes a different approach than you do. While you’re waiting for them to finish up their end of the work so you can begin yours, you might grow frustrated with their approach, their time management, or their overall work ethic. This can create a dispute which can escalate quickly under pressure.

Cultural Differences

The different backgrounds from which we come from can inform the way we work. Distinct ideologies can lead to conflict easily, especially when the root of these differences is difficult to understand. You don’t always immediately imagine the cultural background of a person and how it has crafted their approach to current behavior, so it can be difficult to identify the underlying issue and thus the solution. This is not only true of cultural differences but generational ones. Older generations of employees have been expressing confusion about their millennial counterparts for some time now. There are different expectations from employment across the generations which can lead to conflict. Learning how to handle conflict at work includes being culturally informed and taking appropriate steps to bridge the gaps between different perspectives.

Personality Clashes

This is common and typically easy to recognize. Different types of personalities simply don’t get along, especially when put together under pressure to reach a common goal. Sometimes in these circumstances, the only way to avoid conflict is to ensure certain people don’t get put on projects together. Other times, there can be team-building initiatives that can help competing teammates learn to understand each other or at the very least have patience with one another. Personality-clashing types of conflict in the workplace examples can include arguments over time management, proficiency, attention to detail, and overall focus on the quality of output.

If you’re seeking support in handling different types of conflict in the workplace, Pollack Peacebuilding can help. We work together with individuals and groups to find solutions to common interpersonal issues, supporting teams to build positive foundations on which to reach common business goals. Contact us today!

types of conflict in the workplace



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