Conflict Causes & Solutions in the Workplace

Conflict in the workplace usually starts from an underlying cause. Conflict is rarely as simple as it seems on the surface. If you can get to the heart of the matter, you will be able to come up with conflict solutions.

Problems at work are often caused or exacerbated by the following situations:

Ambiguous roles and responsibilities: Being vague with an employee about his job and the tasks associated with his duties creates a situation in which he or she is left to guess your expectations. One of the conflict solutions that I suggest is to create clear directives that include who, what, when, where, and why so roles and responsibilities are known by all staff members.

Core values not being met: Rarely is a disagreement about surface issues. You can uncover employee values by determining what’s most important to the employee. Use this insight to help him/her create long-lasting conflict solutions based on what will satisfy the team and company.

Conflict Solutions





Assumptions and expectations: Ask open-ended questions to see whether an employee is filling in details based on his past experiences. He/she had different bosses before you so don’t ever assume that your employees always understand your direction.

Different personal lenses and filters through which co-workers see the world: Recognize that all members of your staff have different lenses and filters through which they see and respond to their work environments. Seeing things from their perspectives give you a new way to understand and approach problems.

Gossip and cliques: Cliques form in the workplace for a number of reasons. This makes it more important than ever to have a common goal that all employees understand. Even though employees might not all love to work together, if they have a common goal, they can often put differences aside to meet the common goal. Also, find ways to allow employees to work on projects with different co-workers. This will help create more diversity and understanding.

Miscommunication or vague language: Be straight with your employees. Avoid using language like “when you get to it” or “whatever you think.” Leaving things to an employee’s imagination can make for some imaginative interpretations.

Highly emotional conversations: When emotions are high, reasoning is low. Let things calm down, and then approach employees to discover what caused the reaction in the first place.

Once you realize the underlying reason for conflicts, try out a few of the conflict solutons that I listed above. I would love to hear what happens!

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