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Why Do We Come Into Conflicts At Work?

Last Update: May 8, 2020

We’re hearing about conflicts at work all the time. Not just hear about them, but we’re often part of the conflict. It would be nice if we could all just get along, but that can seem impossible at times. And why’s that?

At work, you will find an array of people with various personalities. When you have so many different characters in one place, disagreements are inevitable. Opinions will collide, and conflicts will occur. However, things sometimes escalate more than they should.

Work characters: 12 common types

1. The Unable to tell their honest opinion

Conflicts at work

2. The Avoider

The Avoider

3. The Petty one

The Petty one

4. Always Cheerful

Always Cheerful

5. The Panderer

The Panderer

6. The Disinterested

The Disinterested

7. The Overly-Honest One

The Overly-Honest One

8. Egomaniac


9. The Buzzkill

The Buzzkill

10. Overly-emotional


11. The Insecure

The Insecure

12. Smartypants



Each type is somewhat extreme. Either in being passive, insecure, sensitive, or something third.

Someone doesn’t like your idea?

Being passionate and invested in your work is a positive thing. Going overboard is not. Try not to make it too personal. Your ideas are not part of you, so if someone doesn’t like them, that’s not a personal attack on you.

Even though it might feel that way, it’s rarely about the power play. This is why you should restrict yourself from feeling that your idea is you.

It’s about finding the balance.

On one end of the spectrum, you have someone who doesn’t care at all. On another end of the spectrum, there is someone who would be ready to plot your disappearance if you ever disagree with them. And then, there’s that sweet spot in the middle.

Be passionate enough to care and invest yourself to produce a new idea, but detached enough to be reasonable if your idea is rejected.

No one wants to hear “You’re wrong”

But what if the situation was vice versa?

Let’s say that your coworker presents an idea you’re not too crazy about. You should care enough to give some kind of feedback, but keep things light. You don’t want this to go into ‘conflicts at work’ memories. Give some constructive criticism, and be kind.

To prevent people from taking offense, you could try finding something you like about their idea. Say something about it at the beginning of your remark, then say the remark and finish with more detailed praise extracted from the positive thought you said at the beginning. For example:

I like how detailed your presentation was. I am not completely on board with the marketing plan, but I think that the data you provided can be very useful.

That way, the lasting effect will have what you said at the end, which is something nice. Creative differences can lead to a positive outcome if you know how.

Just keep in mind to be kind

Of course, if you are to disagree with someone’s idea, you should have the arguments to support that. Talk about things you know about. It’s understandable that you won’t be a copywriter telling a programmer how to do the programming.

Discussed work matters: 2 levels

That could be your guide to know when’s the time to step up and fight for your ideas.

You should be able to accept the fact that people aren’t too crazy about your idea. But that doesn’t mean that you should always abandon your ideas when you hit the first red light. Know when to stand strong and fight for your ideas.

Not-so important things vs. Important matters

Not-so important things vs. Important matters

Pick your battles. When something’s really important you know you are right, make sure you don’t give up on your idea.

However, don’t fight just to be right.

Stop and think what is it that you are trying to achieve? Is this some petty thing that isn’t worth being discussed or is it something out of great importance. Once you analyze the situation objectively, you will know what to do.

If the situation gets heated, don’t let it get to the boiling point.

Take a few steps back. Try and backtrack your path to the point where your opinions go their separate ways, and find what’s the last thing both parties agreed on. And then, try to work out what is the specific reason you disagree on something.

Our tips for conflict resolution

Once you know what’s the tipping point, pave your way with arguments and specific reasons why your way is the way to go. The opposite side should do that as well. This is a civil and constructive way that people come to a common agreement. That’s a way to turn conflicts at work into something potentially positive.

It improves your critical reasoning and it ends up with a solution that mostly everyone feels good about.

Of course, all this doesn’t apply if your disagreements are on a private level, which you should avoid at work at every cost.

Disagreements of that type emerge if you have a coworker that dislikes you on a personal level. The best way to avoid that is not to share your private affairs with people at work. If you do have a work buddy you’re close with, make sure that’s the person that won’t take advantage of the information you share with them.

The best way to avoid backstabbing at work is not giving them material that they can use for making the knives they’re going to stab you with.


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