Workplace Conflict with a Co-Worker

We spend an average of 98,000 hours working during our entire lives. This is a significant amount of time, especially considering that we do not choose our colleagues.

Although you may wish to avoid conflict and hope that it will go away with time, it is nearly impossible, if your feelings of stress and anxiety reach a certain level. Conflict at work has been extensively researched and is known to cause low morale, resistance to change, loss of sleep, the desire to quit and more. So it makes sense that you might feel extremely uncomfortable with your workplace conflict. At the same time, avoiding conflict is likely not the answer.

So, to begin, look at the level of conflict:

Who is your conflict with? This will help you determine who must be addressed. Is it with a colleague, or between your department and another group?

Next, look at the types of conflict and try to decide what the cause of the issue might be. If you believe you are a victim of bullying, please read this: M2G Blog: Bullying and Harassment. The following are some common types of conflict experienced in the workplace:

  1. Line-staff conflict is conflict about who has power and official authority over specific tasks and processes.
    • What can you do? Talk to your manager to find out what you are responsible for in terms of tasks. Ask questions about processes and how they work, in your manager’s opinion. Do they want feedback and insights from you?
  2. Role conflict is about expectations of tasks, primarily when they are not communicated effectively or the communication given is not received effectively.
    • What can you do? Don’t make any hasty decisions. Find out how you can collaborate with colleagues. If you can’t figure it out on your own, ask for a meeting to make things work.
  3. Work-flow interdependency conflict takes place when groups and individuals that are inter-dependent (rely on one another) must collaborate together but fail to do so effectively.
    • What can you do? Find out how you can collaborate with colleagues. If you can’t figure it out on your own, ask for a meeting to make things work.
    • What can you do? Focus on building trust. Here is the definition: M2G Blog: Definition of Trust and an article on how to build trust: M2G Blog: How to Rebuild Trust and Trust Issues.
    • What can you do? Seek the help of a conflict coach to determine your next actions.

Yes, conflict can be uncomfortable to deal with, but it is important to address it the right way, especially if you love your job and want to stay with the organization or company. The good news is that you are taking action to address it.

It is critical to choose the best strategy, whether that means by addressing it directly such as through having a discussion or through personal boundaries. If you are not careful, you risk alienating colleagues and even jeopardizing your job security. Use Mediate to Go® to develop the best strategy to manage your conflict.