4 Causes of Conflicts in the Office and How to Solve Them

An office is a place for working and getting things done. That is where you collaborate with your team and grow the business. It’s not a place for petty fights and quarrels.

Unfortunately, workplace conflict has been prevalent since forever. What’s more, though workplace conflicts are frequent, effective resolution of them tends not to be. When conflicts escalate, legal actions such as mediation and arbitration services might be required. So, not only do these conflicts create tension, but they also eat up workers’ productivity and take time away from doing things that matter.

Of course, no workplace is perfect. Having people with different goals and personalities makes it challenging to avoid disputes altogether, but this doesn’t mean you should just let them happen. For a more peaceful and prosperous workplace, it’s crucial to recognize and understand where conflicts stem from so you can put out the fire before it spreads.

1. Poor communication

A breakdown in communication is probably the biggest reason for conflicts in the office. And if this is a prevalent problem when every party involved is under the same roof, imagine the added challenge now that people are working from home and only conversing over chats and video conferences. For example, an employee might misinterpret the tone of an e-mail their manager sent and react based on how they perceived the message. That can result in a chain of miscommunication that will only grow worse if left unchecked.

2. Unhealthy competition

woman pointing on the table with a pen

Most organizations offer perks and benefits to their employees. This practice is a great way to encourage hard work and productivity when appropriately implemented. However, some companies go about a rewards program the wrong way, such as punishing failures instead of rewarding accomplishments. Some even foster competitive environments. If this type of culture isn’t correctly managed, it may result in employees sabotaging each other instead of promoting teamwork.

3. Unclear roles and responsibilities

The lack of role clarity leads to conflict because of expectations and accountability. When an employee doesn’t know the full scope of their responsibilities, they might fail to perform specific tasks, which might create a domino effect along the chain of command. Then, the problem progresses because blame will be shifted around to determine who’s in the wrong.

4. A difference in values

Anti-discrimination laws are in place to keep workplaces diverse and inclusive. Still, having people from all walks of life in one organization means they have different priorities and values. But it’s not necessarily this fact that causes conflict; the problem lies in people’s failure to be understanding or respectful of their differences. When respect is lacking, colleagues might insult each other for their values, making tensions in the office rise.

Resolving Workplace Conflicts

There’s no one way to resolve conflicts given their different causes. The best that management can do is to give importance to excellent communication, respect, and unity. When these things are at the core of an organization’s values, it’s easier to instill them in employees, which helps reduce the chance of conflicts occurring. With fewer conflicts, employees can work harmoniously, and the entire organization can perform better.

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