Types of Workplace Conflict And How To Resolve Them

Conflict is a part of life that we can’t get away from. Most people will experience getting into a conflict of some kind with their spouse, kids, friends, and coworkers at some point. No matter how much you try to get along with others and be nice, there is always going to be somebody who you don’t agree with, and conflict is a natural part of life that can happen anywhere we have any kind of relationship with others. In the workplace, there are often many different types of people working together, which can lead conflicts to arise between them.

Types of Workplace Conflicts

Some of the most common types of workplace conflict include:

Personality Conflicts

In this case, it’s important to remember that everybody is different. Sometimes personality clashes can happen. For example, if one coworker is quite chatty but is sitting next to somebody who prefers to be quiet while working, this can get annoying. Most of the time, these conflicts can be resolved quite easily by simply being more understanding and considerate of the people that you work with and their different personalities.

Leadership Conflicts

There are just as many different leadership styles as there are different types of personality, and not everybody is going to respond well to every leadership style there is. Some people, for example, prefer to be left alone and trusted to do this job well, and could never work successfully for a micromanager who wants to supervise them all the time and is constantly asking about everything that they do.

Teamwork Conflicts

This is a common conflict type in workplaces, where one person needs to rely on the actions of another to get the job done, and it sometimes does not happen. When you’re working together to achieve a certain result, an individual or team not getting their part of the work done on time can be seriously frustrating.

Work Style Conflicts

People have different ways of working, both individually or a part of a team. Some like to work alone, while other people prefer to work together in groups. Others need to get regular input from others, while some employees work better when they are just left to get on with it. Some like to work in silence while others need some background music to help them focus. Working together with people who work better differently to you can sometimes cause conflicts to arise.

Creative Idea Conflicts

During brainstorming sessions or when coming up with ideas, two people might have completely different visions of how a project or idea should be, which can lead to a creative idea conflict. If you find yourself in this type of conflict, it can actually be more helpful than you might think as long as the two of you can be open-minded, listen to each other, and cooperate on doing something that makes both ideas happen.


Discrimination is one of the more serious causes of workplace conflict. Unfortunately, some employees might experience conflict or even harassment due to factors such as their gender, age, race, sexuality, or disability for example. This type of conflict is never beneficial for anybody, and should be referred to human resources as quickly as possible. As G&A Partners explain in their article, human resources outsourcing can help to ensure that a no-tolerance policy on employee discrimination is enforced in your workplace.

Steps to Effective Workplace Conflict Resolution

No matter what type of conflict you’re caught up in at work, the good news is that there are steps you can take to resolve it and even learn and benefit from it in the future.

Stay Calm

First of all, it’s important that you get to a place where you feel calm and collected. If a conflict has left you feeling frustrated or even angry, take some time to yourself to take some deep breaths and calm down, as getting more upset will never help the situation for either yourself or others. Taking a minute before you reply to anything that could potentially lead to a conflict at work is often one of the simplest yet most effective ways to prevent workplace conflict in the first place.

Communicate Clearly

Many of the conflicts that employees experience while at work will happen as a result of unclear communication. Often, this can lead to somebody misunderstanding the intent of another person which could lead to all manner of conflicts arising. As humans, we do have a natural tendency to take things personally, and some people are prone to thinking the worst. In work, it’s always good to remember that actually, very few things are personal – it’s just how we have interpreted them. Making the effort to communicate as clearly as possible will help you minimize conflict at work and work together with others more effectively.

Listen to Others

Active listening is a good way to minimize conflict in the workplace. Active listening involves paying attention to what people are saying in order to help you understand them, rather than simply listening just to respond. When you’re dealing with a conflict situation in work that you want to resolve, one of the most important things to do is focus your attention on what the other person is saying to you, and try to understand their point of view.


Finally, it’s important to reflect on your own part in the conflict and how you have contributed to a disagreement. Too often, people are quick to respond to what they think others have done or said, and don’t take the time to consider their own part in the conflict. But remember that it takes at least two people to create a conflict situation. Even if you believe that you are in the right, it’s important to take a minute to slow down and reflect honestly on the part that you have played in the conflict. When all parties are able to do this, conflicts will become much easier to resolve.

Conflict is a natural part of life and something that we can’t avoid at work. But how you handle workplace conflicts can help you learn from them, strengthen relationships with your coworkers, and better understand the people that you work with.

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