5 types of workplace conflict—and how to deal with them

by | Oct 5, 2022 | Public Relations

Employees face different types of workplace conflicts due to opposing ideas, personalities, beliefs, and disagreements. Disputes in the workplace are natural, as employees have different backgrounds and perspectives.

The reason behind conflicts can be due to employees not following directives of superiors, non-cooperation, bypassing information, bullying, anger, and ineffective communication in an organization. The adverse effects of workplace conflict can include work disruptions, decreased productivity, project failures, and eventually, termination.

Employers can manage workplace conflict by creating an organizational culture that can effectively deal with conflict by encouraging employees to follow workplace policies and communicate effectively, which should be clear and consistent.

Impact of conflict in the workplace: This results in increased stress and anxiety, mistrust, and lack of cooperation among employees, leading to decreased productivity and workplace dissatisfaction.

Types of workplace conflicts

  1. Task-based conflicts: Task-based conflicts can arise due to several reasons, such as lack of coordination and teamwork, if someone intentionally delays work, if tasks are not appropriately assigned and if the responsibilities and jobs are not well communicated. This conflict can be resolved by informing employees about effective collaboration and communication to complete the task.
  2. Leadership conflicts: due todisputes between different leaders. Everyone has a different working style; clashing leadership styles are the most common cause of conflict in the workplace. Work relationships suffer when leaders don’t communicate with each other. A new manager or supervisor in the same department can cause friction if they manage differently, which creates confusion between employees and impacts work performance. Mutual respect should be established to strengthen the work relationship and ultimately improve performance.
  3. Workstyle conflicts: Every employee has a different opinion and approach while working, which can lead to conflicts. Many prefer to work alone, and some prefer to work in groups collaborating with teammates. Some workers are punctual and finish their tasks early, whereas others wait until the last minute of the deadline to finish their work. Everyone may have a different working style, but the coordination between team members should be a priority to complete goals.
  4. Discrimination: Workplace conflicts can arise due to discrimination based on age, race & gender, gender transition, disability, physical characteristics, and religious or political beliefs. It stems from a lack of open-mindedness, understanding, and cultural acceptance. If Co-workers or supervisors mistreat and discriminate against employees because of these characteristics, it can negatively impact work performance.
  5. Personality conflicts: Everyone has a different personality and different ideas and opinions. Sometimes we face difficult people; they can be annoying, and some people can be intolerable. Especially if you deal with them daily, it can impact your mental health. It’s imperiousto remember that you cannot control other people’s behavior, but you can control how you react to it. When personal conflicts get resolved, it improves productivity.

Conflict resolution steps

  1. Calm down: It is ideal if you are tranquil while facing conflict. It’s ideal if the dispute can be resolved peacefully. Avoid being aggressive and try discussing the problem by talking to the other person. Listen to the other person’s point of view calmly. The dispute may be due to several reasons, such as you and another employee may not be not working as a team or at the same pace. Try to resolve the dispute to increase productivity, as everyone requires a harmonious workplace.
  2. Find the cause of workplace conflicts: You need to find the reason behind the conflict. Opinions should not be misinterpreted as the primary purpose is to find the causes of the dispute. By individually interacting with each employee, you will find out about their problems and dissatisfaction. Make your employees feel comfortable so they can freely share their views and opinions. Allow each person to clarify their perspectives in case of conflict.
  3. Communicate via active listening: Active listening is critically important for the resolution of conflict. It would be beneficial if you actively listened to the other person. You should confirm that you understand precisely what the other person has said.
  4. Self-reflect and resolve conflict: Self-reflection is the process of observing your thoughts and feelings. It makes individuals understand both sides of the situation. It helps you to resolve the conflict and concentrate on your work. Identifying particular strengths or weaknesses of all employees allows managers to assign responsibilities effectively and makes the organization more likely to achieve goals.


Conflict resolution at the workplace is integral to meeting organizational goals. A dispute within the workplace can result in a decrease in productivity. Managers or supervisors play a crucial role in conflict resolution. Optimal conflict resolution includes analyzing the issues of employees and collaboratively developing solutions. The manager must remain impartial, or the task of the conflict resolution should be handed to a neutral third party. Working together as a team, you can develop a work environment that enables the success of all employees and the organization.

Coree Silvera