Three Sources of Conflict

In my experience working with a variety of organizations, I have found that there are three factors behind most organizational conflicts:

  1. Differences in behavior and communication styles
  2. Differences in priorities and values
  3. Workplace conditions, including poor communications from leaders

Some personalities just seem to clash. It’s a fact of life, and one that you’ve probably experienced at some point or another. But when it happens in an organization with two people who need to work together, it can become a huge problem. It’s important to determine why those two people rub each other the wrong way. Do they have opposing behavioral styles?

For example, an extrovert, who is open and expressive, could potentially view an introvert as hard to read, and therefore untrustworthy. Similarly, a time-conscious, highly-organized employee may harshly judge a more spontaneous and disorganized colleague. Someone who is highly analytical and precise might view an intuitive person as impulsive and flaky. It is great when people show up at work as their authentic selves, but if they are rigid in their stances, conflict can be the result.

Teaching your team members to recognize and understand basic behavioral differences can help them overcome tendencies to judge and make assumptions. They can learn to accept their coworkers’ differences, and maybe even see the value in their differing approaches. This requires them to let go of their ego and approach their coworker with humility. Consider using any of the commonly accepted assessment tools, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Everything DiSC, or another personality inventory including 360-degree feedback instruments. These can help your team get a handle on their own personality types, so they can figure out how to better get along with others. Opening these lines of communication can be difficult, but are always worth it.

You may also want to explore shamanic consciousness. This is a practice where you work to better tune into the world around you. We are highly perceptive creatures, constantly gathering information around us with all of our senses. The trouble is that our awareness is usually somewhere else, so we don’t actually process what we are receiving from the world around us. When we are in an argument with someone, we are often so wrapped up in our own concerns and perspective that we just aren’t “listening”. We aren’t perceiving the information, verbal and non-verbal, they are giving us. When we open ourselves up to that, amazing things can happen.

Through shamanic consciousness and coaching, an extrovert can learn to ask interesting questions that can draw out an introvert. The highly-organized team member can learn to set more realistic deadlines and be more flexible. Understanding personality differences can help prevent clashes and conflicts before they become ongoing problems. Every relationship has a unique tone and vibe. Once you figure that out, the relationship can become easier to navigate.

In my coaching, I offer several solutions for learning about personalities in the workplace and communicating to help deal with differences and conflicts. If you would like more information about these solutions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Expectations and Assumptions

Everyone has different needs, values, beliefs, assumptions, and cultural frameworks. Our expectations are fed by our past experiences. If you erroneously assume that others are essentially mirror images of yourself, this lack of clarity can create strife and conflict.

When there is an elevated degree of conflict, it’s wise to retain a professional who is trained in interpersonal management and coaching skills. Leaders and teams must learn to explore each other’s expectations, assumptions, underlying values, and priorities. This can be accomplished in group or individual sessions, led by a manager or coach.

Behind every complaint is an underlying value that goes unsatisfied. Asking questions like “What’s really important here?” often allows people to uncover competing values and priorities in a situation. When you ask the right questions, you can facilitate more authentic and productive conversations.

What do you think about these ideas? What do you see as a major source of conflict in your organization? Contact me here or on LinkedIn.