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Conflict in the Workplace: 7 Important Tips to Navigate Conflict in the Workplace

May 18, 2023

10 min read

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Author : United We Care
Conflict in the Workplace: 7 Important Tips to Navigate Conflict in the Workplace



Out of all the things we do in our lives, the workplace is where we spend a majority of our time. Like any other relationship, conflicts can come up at work as well with our colleagues or bosses. We must keep in mind that conflicts-resolution is possible; there is no problem or issue that does not have a solution. The most important factor in navigating through workplace conflict is our calmness of mind. Even Lord Krishna said in the Bhagwat Geeta that if we have a calm mind, half the problem automatically gets resolved and can create a positive environment. Such a positive environment in the workplace can open doors for enhanced productivity and loyal employees [2].

“The Law of win/win says: Let’s not do it your way or my way; let’s do it the best way.” Greg Anderson [1]

What is Conflict in the Workplace?

Disagreements happen in all relationships. Whether it is with parents, siblings, or friends. So, our work family cannot be too far behind, isn’t it? Disagreement among employees in an organization is called ‘conflict in the workplace.

Globally, 85% of the workforce faces conflicts in the workplace. These conflicts can develop because of differences of opinion, ideologies, styles of working, etc.

When we have a fight with someone, would we want to do anything for them? Probably not. The same happens in the workplace also. Our productivity can go down, more mistakes can emerge, and tension and stress can arise [3].

What Are The Probable Causes Of Conflict In The Workplace?

Let’s understand through the story of a legal secretary – “I encountered conflict in the workplace for working overtime. The regular work day for legal secretaries was 9 to 5, and they hired night secretaries who worked from 5 to 12 midnight, paying them an extra salary. I took full advantage of this goldmine of an opportunity that resulted in me having some hefty paychecks. Many people started being concerned over how much overtime I put in and how much money I was making. It reached the point where a night secretary could not understand why the attorneys chose me over her and started following me around and arguing with the attorneys I was helping. When I reported the problem to HR, they threatened to fire both of us. She never came near me again and was fired shortly after.” [4]

The causes of a conflict can be endless. However, in the workplace, conflict can occur because of some [5]

What Are The Probable Causes Of Conflict In The Workplace?

  1. Differences in Values, Goals, and Priorities: Would you want to associate with someone whose values, goals, and priorities don’t match yours? No, right? So working with someone who doesn’t match your mindset, you might feel a pull. This pull can lead to disagreements and conflict.
  2. Communication Breakdowns: Communication is an important factor in any relationship. Miscommunication has caused wars in the world. When we work in an organization, it is important to clarify what was said. Miscommunications and language barriers can not only give birth to conflict, they can cause considerable losses to the company. For example, generation Z says something is ca, it means it is a lie, whereas a person from any other generation might think of the caps we wear on the head. Such misunderstandings can result in conflict.
  3. Competition for Resources: Every company has a particular budget and time period to work around. When employees or departments fight over this budget and time, huge arguments can come up. Some organizations create inter-departmental competition, and the recognition that comes after the competition can make the employees power-hungry, and that also can lead to conflicts.
  4. Personality Clashes: When two people who are working together have different personality types and working styles, conflicts can emerge. For example, one of my co-workers had a laid-back attitude when it came to achieving targets, and I would go all out and give my 100%. This attitude used to create riffs between us quite often.
  5. Power Struggles: Everyone like to have control and power in their hands. When we were children, we wanted to be adults soon. That was there only because we saw that adults had power in life. In an organization, these power struggles can cause disagreements. For example, in the show “Suits,” Harvey wanted to become the name partner before Louise, and they would get into frequent arguments in the process.
  6. Discrimination and Harassment: Many people face discrimination and harassment at the workplace on the basis of race, gender, religion, etc. Such biases are not only grounds for conflict but also legal offenses.
  7. Organizational Changes: Sometimes, a company can suddenly change its structure and all its policies. These changes may not benefit the employees, and therefore, conflicts can arise. Specifically, such issues keep coming up in blue-collared jobs, and the employees go on strikes to protest against the changes.

What are the Effects of Conflict in the Workplace?

Nothing comes out of any unresolved conflicts. In the workplace, these conflicts can have adverse effects [6] [7]:

  1. Decreased Productivity: You know, when two siblings fight, parents have to interfere and spend time sorting things out? Similarly, in an organization, the higher authorities might have to step in. Till the time the conflict doesn’t get resolved, all the concerned parties might end up wasting precious time, thereby decreasing productivity.
  2. Increased Stress: For all those who are involved in conflict, everything can be stressful. I remember a time when I was involved in a workplace conflict, and even going to the office was stressful because I didn’t know what the outcome of the conflict would be.
  3. Employee Turnover: Conflicts have known to cause more resignations and terminations. All the efforts that the company put on the employees can go to waste in a minute.
  4. Damage to Relationships: Relationships are very important in our lives. However, conflict, specifically between 2 individuals in the organization, can ruin the relationship for life, to a point where they may not work together again and refuse bigger and greater opportunities if it means that they need to work together.
  5. Decreased Job Satisfaction: When a conflict occurs, the stress accompanying the situation can severely decrease job satisfaction. The employee can feel disconnected from the tasks and think of moving to another organization as quickly as possible.
  6. Legal and Financial Implications: In extreme cases, conflict can lead to legal action. Court cases come with a price, and sometimes these costs can damage the organization’s reputation and finances.

How To Prevent Conflict In The Workplace?

“Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.” Walter Lippmann [8]

While some conflicts can give birth to new ideas and growth, it is still essential to prevent any conflicts that can hamper the organization drastically [9]:

How to Prevent Conflict in the Workplace?

  1. Develop a Clear Communication Strategy: When we are clear and sure about what issues we want to address, we choose the right words and body language as well. However, from an organizational perspective also, it is important to develop a communication strategy where employees can respectfully speak the truth without fearing that it would have any negative repercussions on them. For this, it is vital that the management practices active listening and transparency.
  2. Establish Clear Roles and Responsibilities: Sometimes, departments and individuals can have overlapping responsibilities. For example, a co-worker and I worked as psychologists in an organization, and our job roles were exactly the same. One day, I had to be on leave, and the company assigned my client to her. Because our working styles were different, the client went back more confused than before. So, I would recommend clarity of job roles as a possible solution.
  3. Strive for a Positive Work Culture: Employees and the company can thrive in a more positive environment. One of my bosses was a master at valuing everyone’s opinion and respected a person even when they were arguing. To him, such arguments were only signs that a person is passionate about their work and wants to collaborate.
  4. Provide Conflict Resolution Training: Conflict resolution training should be a mandate. Such training can provide every employee with the right skills and strategies to prevent conflicts. But, if a conflict still occurs, the training can support them in learning techniques to quickly reach a resolution.
  5. Encourage Teamwork: Working in teams and ensuring that all members of the team work on the task, can severely decrease the chances of conflict. When we work as a team, we learn to work in sync and also understand each other’s shortcomings; so the work can get divided accordingly.
  6. Implement Clear Policies and Procedures: The human resources department can design clear policies and procedures on how the company can deal with conflicts. These policies and procedures can stop the issues from going out of control.
  7. Address Potential Sources of Conflict: With the help of effective managers, organizations can easily identify who the people are or what situations usually lead to conflicts. Curbing these situations and people before things escalate can prevent issues.


Conflicts are a part of everyday life. No two people would agree 100% with each other at all times. Therefore, as an employee, it is important for you to remain calm and patient and find the right resources to navigate the conflict. On a company level, creating a positive and healthy environment where people can respectfully hold discussions is vital. Such an environment helps in retaining employees for a longer period of time and increases the productivity and growth of the organization.

If you are experiencing any workplace conflict, consult expert counsellors and explore content at United We Care! At United We Care, a team of professionals and mental health experts will guide you with the best methods for well-being.


[1] “Greg Anderson: The Law of Win/Win says, Let’s not do it your way or my way; let’s do it the best way.,” Greg Anderson: The Law of Win/Win says, Let’s not do it your way or my way; let’s do it the best way. https://www.quotes.net/quote/57130

[2] “Workplace conflict,” Workplace conflict – Better Health Channel, Jan. 06, 2012. http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/workplace-conflict

[3] “Workplace Conflict,” Workplace Conflict | Beyond Intractability, May 23, 2016. https://www.beyondintractability.org/coreknowledge/workplace-conflict

[4] “Have you encountered a conflict in the workplace? How did you deal with this, and what lessons did you learn?” Quora. https://www.quora.com/Have-you-encountered-a-conflict-in-the-workplace-How-did-you-deal-with-this-and-what-lessons-did-you-learn/answer/CD-Stevens-1

[5] “Causes of conflict in the workplace | nibusinessinfo.co.uk,” Causes of conflict in the workplace | nibusinessinfo.co.uk. https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/causes-conflict-workplace

[6] I. Mihaylova, “UNDERSTANDING THE EFFECTS OF WORKPLACE CONFLICTS: AN EMPLOYEE PERSPECTIVE | KNOWLEDGE – International Journal,” UNDERSTANDING THE EFFECTS OF WORKPLACE CONFLICTS: AN EMPLOYEE PERSPECTIVE | KNOWLEDGE – International Journal, Dec. 15, 2021. https://ikm.mk/ojs/index.php/kij/article/view/4616

[7] “The Effects of Conflict Within an Organization,” Small Business – Chron.com. https://smallbusiness.chron.com/effects-conflict-within-organization-164.html

[8] “A quote by Walter Lippmann,” Quote by Walter Lippmann: “Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.” https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/16244-where-all-think-alike-no-one-thinks-very-much

[9] “6 Useful Tips for Prevention of Conflict in the Workplace,” Pollack Peacebuilding Systems, May 20, 2022. https://pollackpeacebuilding.com/blog/tips-for-prevention-of-conflict-in-the-workplace/

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Author : United We Care

Founded in 2020, United We Care (UWC) is providing mental health and wellness services at a global level, UWC utilizes its team of dedicated and focused professionals with expertise in mental healthcare, to solve 2 essential missing components in the market, sustained user engagement and program efficacy/outcomes.

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