Understanding Why Conflict Happens

Updated: Feb 24, 2021

Get in the Zone

There’s some level of truth to the saying that you can do anything you put your mind to. If you put all of your energy and focus into a certain task or goal, then you’re more likely to accomplish it. People have described the feeling of focus as being “in the zone” or experiencing a state of “flow.” That’s because better focus makes you more productive, creative, and effective overall. The ability to stay focused is an essential skill for workplace success—regardless of what you do. In this lesson, you’ll explore the two main factors that influence your ability to stay focused. You’ll then learn a handful of healthy habits to improve your focus—and, in turn, your performance and productivity.

6 Common Causes of Conflict

Conflict may be common—but it can sneak up on you unexpectedly. By learning the common sources of conflict at work, you can identify potential problems before they get out of control. Expand the rows below to learn about six of the most common culprits.

- First, poor communication can quietly erode team rapport. You might misinterpret what another person said or take a remark out of context. People with different communication styles may struggle to understand one another. Also, lack of communication can allow issues to fester and grow out of control.

- Clashes in personalities or working styles are another cause of conflict. An introverted person may get annoyed by the constant chatter of an extroverted coworker. A team member who works best with ideas and talking about big-picture items may clash with a colleague who prefers working with numbers and details. In these situations, neither person is right or wrong—they just have different strengths, personalities, and working styles.

- Conflict is also inevitable when team members have competing needs or interests. A coworker may focus on achieving their personal interests, instead of focusing on the shared goals of the team or organization. Employees may compete for resources like time, status, money, and so on

- Another common source of conflict is different values—or what people prioritize and care about most. For example, imagine that your team is deciding on the best approach to a problem. A colleague who values relationships may care most about reaching consensus and giving everyone a chance to be heard. In contrast, someone who values efficiency may push to make a quick and effective decision—regardless if everyone’s ideas are included.

- Next, conflict is often a result of ambiguity in workplace roles, goals, policies, and procedures. Tensions can arise when people aren’t clear on what’s expected of them or others. Disagreements break out if there aren’t defined procedures and policies in place to govern workplace behaviors. Also, ambiguous team or company goals can create confusion or conflict over the team’s direction and priorities.

-Finally, performance issues can strain coworker relationships and create resentment and frustration among peers. That can happen when a coworker consistently underperforms—and others are forced to pick up the slack. Or, it can happen when someone receives negative feedback and blames others for their own shortcomings.

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