Stressed From Office Politics? Deal With Conflict in the Workplace

Stressed From Office Politics? Deal With Conflict in the Workplace
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 04 July, 2022

Conflicts in the workplace are inevitable. Not all personalities will get along, and not all colleagues will be best friends. Everyone experiences a variation of discord in the office eventually. It’s all part of the learning process. But while it’s good to ride the ups and the downs of workplace culture, it’s just as important to know how to resolve such disagreements and prevent them altogether.

Sometimes, conflicts in the workplace can get out of hand, affecting the productivity and mood of everyone in the office, not just the people directly involved. In such a small environment, the professional thing to do is to keep the peace – always.

Squabbles can be healthy for relationships. Once resolved, they can cause stronger bonds and unlock new levels of understanding. But first, we’ll need to understand the very nature of conflicts in the workplace.

What Is Workplace Conflict?

Conflicts in the workplace occur when colleagues disagree with each other, oppose ideas, and fail to get along due to different personalities. It's unavoidable when a company brings together employees from different lifestyles and backgrounds. Conflicts can be rooted in the simple fact that two colleagues have different tastes in music. Or it can happen because one person got promoted over the other.

Employees typically express workplace conflict through passive-aggressiveness, lack of cooperation, lack of communication, poor quality of work, and even bullying. And while all this plays out, every other employee in the workplace will have to endure the fallout of conflicts.

Employees in conflicts must be professional enough to resolve and prevent them from happening again – if only to ease everyone’s stress. It is easier said than done, but once you understand the importance, effects, and types of workplace conflict, resolving them might not be so difficult after all.

How Can Workplace Conflict Cause Work Disruptions?

When left unaddressed, workplace conflicts can spiral out of control and affect every facet of the workplace culture. Friction can lead to emotional stress, low productivity, work disruptions, project failures, and absenteeism. The worst effects could potentially be high turnover rates and even termination.

In terms of work performance, conflicts can directly cause diminished work performance. An employee in trouble might feel less motivated to work, resulting in missed deadlines. It might even cause an employee to slip up in places they usually wouldn’t, bringing about errors, poor planning, and more disagreements. An unmotivated employee is contagious, so this behaviour could cause others to follow suit.

Low employee morale is another serious effect of conflict in the workplace. It can result in poor team morale, low job satisfaction, and zero motivation. The group might feel emotionally drained, which can, in turn, lead to feelings of resignation. In the worst cases, it could cause anxiety and depression. A hostile work environment is terrible for a team’s mental and physical health.

On the business end, conflicts in the workplace could lead to loss of revenue as a result of diminished work performance and low employee morale. Toxic work environments can be destructive to a company’s productivity and profits.

Meanwhile, all this conflict will undoubtedly lead to office gossip. Office gossip is inevitable, but if you don’t fuel the fire, then it should die out on its own.

What Are the Types of Workplace Conflicts? And How Do You Deal With Them?

Personality Differences

Sometimes, without rhyme or reason, personalities clash. Two individuals might not have a concrete reason to be in a conflict, but their varied preferences might be enough to cause discomfort. Things like different backgrounds, generations, work styles, and attitudes can be enough to cause workplace conflict, but there is a way to combat this.

How to deal with it:Collaboration is an effective method to resolve conflicts in the workplace. It is one of the best ways to handle any issue because it tends to result in a win-win outcome. Working together encourages two people to learn about each other and find a way to connect. Once you truly understand a person, it would be difficult to dislike over shallow traits in their personality.

Poor Leadership

Poor leadership can affect everyone in the workplace, resulting in numerous conflicts between employees and departments. Poor leadership and poor management can snowball into larger issues, such as lack of communication, lack of direction, lack of presence, and lack of authority. Poor leadership can become cancer to a company, which is why it’s imperative to address it immediately.

How to deal with it:One way to resolve conflicts related to poor leadership is by being more empathetic. The leader must identify the root of the problem and take leadership workshops or other avenues to improve themselves. Meanwhile, employees empathise with their leaders and their struggles. Holding grudges and acting antagonistically will only exacerbate the situation. Empathy can go a long way.


Discrimination is one of the rarest forms of workplace conflict, but it does occur. In environments particularly oppressive and ignorant, prejudice is bound to happen. Once this issue enters the equation, a workplace conflict can be brought to managers or even the human resources department. Discrimination against gender, race, political beliefs and religious beliefs is a grave offence that can affect everyone in the organisation.

How to deal with it:The best way to address discrimination is with a firm hand. Quick, decisive actions and a no-tolerance policy are great ways to address discrimination in the workplace. It will remind workers of the consequences of prejudice and bias, and that the leader will not sit idly by when another team member is experiencing unfair treatment.

Conflicting Ideas

Not all great minds think alike. Creative differences are common in the workplace but left unchecked, they can lead to fierce (and unhealthy) competition between colleagues. Arguments rooted in opposing ideas tend to push the mentality that one idea is superior to the other. It is an unfair way of thinking that can be detrimental to a person’s professionalism.

How to deal with it:An ideal way to resolve this type of conflict in the workplace is by learning how to compromise and channelling this conflict into excellent brainstorming. By recognising the importance of everyone’s voices, ideas, and opinions, employees can enrich the company with their diverse brainstorming. Find the common ground and perhaps engage in healthy competition.


One of the most common types of conflict in the workplace is miscommunication. Sometimes, explanations and instructions can get lost in translation, resulting in tension between workers who are simply trying to do their job. A wrong interpretation could result in serious mistakes. The worst-case scenario is that it could cost you your job. The best-case scenario is that it could cause discord in the workplace.

How to deal with it:In cases of miscommunication, the best way to address this conflict is by learning to let it go and not hold it over someone’s head. Instead, let go of this trivial issue and focus on preventative strategy. Moving forward, establish clear communication channels so miscommunication does not occur again.

If the conflict in your workplace is too much for you, you may consider checking out new jobs. Make sure to update your JobStreet profile. #LetsGetToWork. Read more expert career tips and industry insights on the JobStreet Career Resources page or via our app, which is available on App Store and Google Play.

Working relationships

Browse top search terms

Did you know many candidates preparing a resume also research their industry by exploring top search terms?
Did you find this helpful?

Subscribe to Career Advice

Get expert career advice delivered to your inbox.
You can cancel emails at any time. By clicking ‘subscribe’ you agree to Jobstreet’s Privacy Statement.