Chapter 10How to Resolve

CONFLICT IS A FACT OF LIFE. It happens in politics, within your family, inside the ranks of your favorite pro sports team, between the followers of religious belief systems, and, yes, in your company break room. Better leaders welcome some level of conflict to encourage what we call “creative destruction.” The stuff actually can be effective, though managers must take care not to invite too much of it lest they invite added drama into the workplace—and this is not effective.

For some folks, the idea of conflict at work might include everything from a stink eye at the water cooler to an ongoing and long-simmering feud that decimates departments and sends morale into the septics. So much of it is a matter of perspective. Still, it's probably fair to say that if it's disrupting the flow of work in your midst, it qualifies as “conflict.”

As for how much, one study revealed that a full 85 percent of employees struggle with at least some degree of conflict in the workplace, and 29 percent said they do it “always” or “frequently.” While most conflict seems to brew in the more subordinate positions, with 34 percent of folks in entry-level/frontline roles counting conflict among the characteristics of their professional life, there are still plenty of clashes in the executive suites (one in eight employees report that disagreements within their senior teams are frequent or continual).

In that same study, the primary causes of workplace conflict were determined ...

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