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Conflict in the Workplace: A Closer Look

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Consider this: After a slew of interviews, a well-known corporation offers a mid-level managerial post to a committed, enthusiastic young man in his early 30s. Apart from allowing him to do what he has always wanted to, the job comes with attractive perks and a good salary. But a few months into the job, he is already considering quitting. Never mind the fact that the job materialized only four months ago and after three stressful interviews. Never mind that he may not be able to find another job as satisfactory as his current one.

Chances are high that this new manager has come face to face with unavoidable conflict in the workplace. Chances are even higher that the nature of the conflict has left him feeling ill-equipped to deal with his work, resulting in a loss of confidence in his ability that has finally led him to consider quitting.

So, why would a committed worker prefer to quit rather than tackle such a problem head on?

Conflict Undermines Productivity

Of all the workplace woes, conflict—with coworkers and administrators—is possibly the most underrated. Though probably the most evident of all work-related problems, it is also the least likely to be discussed openly between coworkers. Often one of the underlying reasons for other problems in the workplace, conflict can be very taxing on the individuals involved. It can lead to loss of enthusiasm and confidence and can ultimately cause such a high degree of dissatisfaction that an individual may see no way out other than quitting.

The fact that conflict is easily identified does nothing to eliminate the problem. Workers may not want to acknowledge its existence. They will likely avoid talking about conflict for a number of reasons. Apart from seeing conflict as a threat to their jobs, most people would rather avoid confrontations with their coworkers. The people involved in a conflict might refer to it as a "cold war" or, couched in more polite terms, "a difference of opinion" and try to deny that an issue exists at all.

Workplace Dynamics and Facing Conflict

Workplace dynamics, with their mix of superiors and subordinates and their varying mindsets, often foster conflicts. But not all conflicts are detrimental. At times, conflict serves to bring differences out into the open in a positive manner. Conflict only becomes problematic when it hampers productivity, and in such cases, it should be resolved immediately.

Unfortunately, unlike other issues that arise in the workplace such as poor communication, failure to meet deadlines, confusion regarding work, etc., there is no clearly demarcated means for resolving conflict in the workplace.

In the case of interpersonal conflict, perhaps the best way to resolve the issue would be to open communication channels. Interaction in the workplace should be professional and free of malice. If the conflict relates to different approaches to work, efforts must be made by the team members to identify and resolve areas of dispute. Resolving conflicts that involve office politics or petty personal interests is of the utmost importance. Differences of opinion can become conflicts if left unresolved. This, in turn, leads to hostility and resentment, which can lead to dire consequences for a team.

Conflict resolution cannot be overlooked—especially at a time when lifelong loyalty to one's workplace is a rarity and an individual is more likely to consider quitting rather than addressing conflict.
On the net:Conflict

Issues in the Workplace

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