The Most Common Types of Workplace Conflict

Conflict in the workplace is an inevitable circumstance that all businesses must confront. Without proper conflict resolution skills, disagreements and disputes can become destructive to both relationships and productivity. Conflict between supervisors, co-workers, or customers can range from minor misunderstandings to serious issues with long-term consequences. Understanding the types of workplace conflicts that manifest within organizations allows employers and employees alike to better address potential sources of tension before they escalate into prolonged crises. In this blog post, we’ll explore four common types of workplace conflicts so you’re better equipped to identify them early on and resolve them quickly!

Different types of conflict in the workplace

Some common types of conflict in the workplace include interpersonal conflict, intrapersonal conflict, power struggles, miscommunication, and organizational change.

Interpersonal conflicts occur between two or more people within an organization. This type of conflict typically arises when there are competing interests or goals among individuals. These conflicts can be caused by different personality traits, interpersonal styles, culture clashes, different values or ways of thinking, communication issues, and mistrust.

Intrapersonal conflicts occur within one individual as they struggle to balance their own needs with the expectations of others. This type of internal struggle is often caused by personal moral dilemmas or difficulty asserting oneself in certain situations.

conflict resolution skills

Power struggles occur when one or more individuals attempt to gain control within the workplace. This type of conflict can be fueled by a need for recognition and respect, competition for resources, attempts to impose authority, or the desire for dominance in certain areas.

Miscommunication is often a source of tension between people at work. Problems may arise when instructions are unclear, expectations are not communicated properly, misunderstandings occur, or messages are misinterpreted. Poor communication also leads to feelings of mistrust and resentment among team members.

Organizational change can create significant stress in the workplace as employees adjust to new systems and processes. In addition, it can lead to resistance from staff who feel that their roles and responsibilities have been diminished or altered without their input. This type of conflict often occurs during times of organizational restructuring, technological upgrades, and mergers.

Conflict in the workplace can have a negative effect on morale, productivity, operations, and profitability if it is not addressed quickly and effectively. Managers should be aware of the different types of conflict that can occur within their organization so they can take steps to prevent or resolve disputes in a timely manner. By fostering an environment of open communication, promoting collaboration among team members, and resolving conflicts promptly when they arise, organizations can create an atmosphere where everyone feels valued and respected.

resolving conflicts promptly

Examples of workplace conflict that every manager should be aware of

  • Miscommunications between staff members, leading to misunderstandings and misinterpretations.
  • Unfair or unequal treatment of employees by management.
  • Personality clashes that lead to disruptive behavior in the workplace.
  • Struggles for power or control over resources or decision making.
  • Unresolved grievances which can lead to feelings of resentment and dissatisfaction among employees.
  • Disagreements over how work should be done, leading to delays in completing tasks or assignments.
  • Bickering between two or more staff members that leads to a hostile environment and low morale amongst workers.
  • Inappropriate comments made by one employee towards another, either directly or indirectly.
  • Conflicting values or opinions on how the company should be run, leading to opposing views and disagreements between staff members.
  • Hostile behavior or aggression towards other employees that can result in physical confrontation.
  • Discrimination based on gender, age, race or religion.
  • Inadequate resources that are unable to meet everyone’s needs and expectations.
  • Unclear job roles and responsibilities that create confusion among co-workers.
  • Poorly defined goals or objectives which can lead to frustration and a lack of motivation within the workplace.
  • Favoritism displayed by management when it comes to assigning tasks or making decisions about promotions or disciplinary action.