You've just arrived at your office, which you share with a colleague, and it looks as if it's going to be another frustrating day.
Your side of the office is neat as a pin and incredibly well organized.
You always arrive at work on time and you take care not to talk loudly when you're on the phone, so that you don't disturb your office mate.
Your colleague, however, is the exact opposite.
Empty cups and stacks of dusty files litter his side of the office. He often rushes into the office late, and he sometimes puts the radio on while he's working, which breaks your concentration. You love your work, but dread coming into the office every day, simply because you don't like sharing your space with your colleague. He drives you crazy, and you often argue.
If you thought about it, you'd quickly recognize that there's conflict between you because the two of you have completely different working styles. Once you'd realized this, you'd have a starting point for thinking about how you could work together more effectively.
All of us experience conflict like this at work. Conflict can be useful, since it can push conflicting parties to grow and communicate, and it can improve conflicting ideas. However, this can only happen if we understand why the conflict is there in the first place. Once we've identified the root of the problem, we can take the right steps to resolve it.
In this article, we'll look at eight common causes of conflict in the workplace, and we'll explore how you can use them to manage conflict more effectively.
About the Eight Causes
According to psychologists Art Bell and Brett Hart, there are eight common causes of conflict in the workplace. Bell and Hart identified these common causes in separate articles on workplace conflict in 2000 and 2002.
The eight causes are:
7.Different personal values.
You can use this classification to identify possible causes of conflict. Once you've identified these, you can take steps to prevent conflict happening in the first place, or you can tailor your conflict resolution strategy to fit the situation.
How to Use the Tool
Let's take a closer look at each of the eight causes of workplace conflict, and discuss what you can do to avoid and resolve each type.
1. Conflicting Resources
We all need access to certain resources – whether these are office supplies, help from colleagues, or even a meeting room – to do our jobs well. When more than one person or group needs access to a particular resource, conflict can occur.
If you or your people are in conflict over resources, use techniques such as Win-Win Negotiation or the Influence Model to reach a shared agreement.
You can also help team members overcome this cause of conflict by making sure that they have everything they need to do their jobs well. Teach them how to prioritize their time and resources, as well as how to negotiate with one another to prevent this type of conflict.
If people start battling for a resource, sit both parties down to discuss openly why their needs are at odds. An open discussion about the problem can help each party see the other's perspective and become more empathic about their needs.
2. Conflicting Styles
Everyone works differently, according to his or her individual needs and personality. For instance, some people love the thrill of getting things done at the last minute, while others need the structure of strict deadlines to perform. However, when working styles clash, conflict can often occur.
To prevent and manage this type of conflict in your team, consider people's working styles and natural group roles when you build your team.
You can also encourage people to take a personality test, such as the Myers-Briggs Personality Test ....
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