Conflict in the workplace is inevitable. So it’s important to understand what causes conflict in business and have a conflict resolution plan in place to resolve disagreements when they become toxic.
Conflict is defined as, “to come into collision or disagreement; be contradictory, at variance or in opposition; clash to fight or contend; do battle.”
Conflict is sometimes the result of competition in the workplace. There can be competition for resources (dollars, work space, employees, etc.), position (demonstration of ability, skills, influence) or relationships (with boss, coworkers, vendors, customers).
Conflict is not necessarily bad. If managed properly, conflict can add value to an organization. The goal should not be the elimination of all conflict because that could only come at the expense of all growth, creativity or innovation.
Conflict can be a manifestation of underlying organizational issues. For example, unclear boundaries or inconsistent enforcement of policies. Conflict can occur between individuals, employees and managers, groups or departments or between an organization and a vendor. Conflict might be connected to a disagreement over resources or how goals are accomplished, but what drives the emotional response to conflict is almost always a difference in priorities, values, position and personal style.
Conflict creates distractions that can hinder an organization’s ability to meet corporate objectives. Poor conflict management can create stress and awkwardness in the workplace and neglected conflict can affect performance and, if ignored long enough, conflict can create a hostile workplace.
The EASE Program’s goal in workplace conflict resolution strategy is to find a win-win, or a compromise, so each party’s interests are met at some level.
If that sounds simplistic it’s because it is. Conflict resolution isn’t rocket science; in fact it isn’t really science at all. Potent conflict resolution involves a multi-step process that involves the very unscientific principles of listening, trust, understanding and empathy. It’s amazingly effective.