“I’m going to kill that idiot if he does that again!” Oh – oh, conflict in the workplace is rearing it’s ugly head again. And one thing is quite sure, and that is that it will be back again and again. That fact is as sure as death and taxes.
Why is that some people just rub us up the wrong way?
There are some people that from the minute you meet them, you get along fantastically with them. There are others, who require a bit of getting used to before you get along with them… and then there are the others! Those people that you didn’t like from the minute you met them, and now, three months later, your relationship with them has just gone downhill. What is it that causes us to get along with some people, and not with others? What causes this type of personality clash? And most importantly, what can be done about it. How can we manage this type of conflict?
Conflict in the workplace is not going to go away.
Often we are forced into situations, which force us to work with, or be with people that we find difficult to get along with. Either people working for us, our children, parents, our peers or even our boss. These relationships are an ongoing cause of stress. Mainly because we don’t know how to handle these people.
Screaming matches… fights… tears and frustration… Familiar?
Sure. We are all exposed to those same scenes, so many times, in companies and organisations, and at home that it has virtually become acceptable. Do we have to accept it, or is there perhaps a better way? Of course there’s a better way. While there’s no way that we can remove the conflict from our lives, there are many ways of learning to handle the conflict, that will prevent conflict from becoming war.
Conflict – Good or bad?
People automatically tend to say BAD, however most researchers agree that conflict is not only good for an organisation, but vital. A modern view of conflict management says: “Not only is conflict positive, but some conflict in the workplace is absolutely necessary for a group to work effectively and grow.” So our purpose is clearly not to show how to avoid conflict, but rather how to manage and harness it, to prevent it from becoming destructive.
For organisations and groups to grow and develop, some degree of constructive conflict is essential. If everyone is going around agreeing with everyone else, then the morale may be very high, but productivity will take a dive. To be creative – to develop new ideas and strategies – to be able to stay competitive we need constant input from the people within the team. Now obviously not all people will agree on all ideas. And this is where conflict can either be harnessed or where it becomes destructive.
What is conflict and why does it occur?
Conflict arises from a situation where one person or group, has a different goal from a second person or group, and sets about to prevent or frustrate the other party from achieving their goal. In a conflict situation, a person generally has two concerns. One, they want to achieve their goal, and two, they want to preserve the relationship with the other party. The degree that each party holds on to these concerns, will determine the severity of the conflict.
What can we do about conflict in the workplace?
Let’s not agonise – Let’s rather solutionise! As with any skill, conflict management is something that needs to be learned, developed and nurtured. We are not born with good conflict management skills, these need to be learned. Conflict management training is perhaps one of the best investments that one can make in oneself.
I will be writing about conflict management techniques in a blog soon. Please stay tuned. Conflict management is not difficult, but like any other skill, it needs to be learned.