The workplace is under pressure these days. Many companies are feeling extra stress as the economic downturn continues. This extra stress can lead to conflict in the workplace, but it doesn’t have to. Often thought of as negative, conflict can lead to constructive change.

Understanding what I call “Chair 2” (the other guy) is key. Before jumping to any conclusions as tension rises, ask yourself the following questions—

  • What are his* needs in this situation? Does he need more information or resources to be successful? Or, is it on the emotional level as a need for a feeling of safety, or more control?
  • Is his work and style different than mine? Is he more reactive or proactive? Does he enjoy risk or tranquility? Is he performing a function outside of his job requirements or expertise?
  • What are his expectations and perceptions of this situation? What does he expect to happen? What does he want to happen?  In what ways may he perceive what is happening? Does he feel respected and valued? Does he need latitude or rules?
  • What are some possible outcomes he wants from this conflict? What would be the best resolution for him? Does he view the situation as win-win or a lose-lose? Has he placed himself in the role of victim or a “have-not?”
  • Are other conflicts affecting this one? It may be conflicts of time, scheduling, money, resources, company policies even personalities or different personal values.
  • Is this a power struggle? Most of us have experienced situations where associates have wielded their power in inappropriate ways. Is this situation a power struggle for territory, resources, attention… Power struggles often cause intentional or unintentional aggressive or passive-aggressive (sabotage) behavior.

As with so many things, it is in how we perceive what is happening that determines the outcome. The more information and “views” we can acknowledge, the better the resolution will be for all.

As you identify what caused the conflict, it is easier to choose the best strategy to move towards resolution.

Have a great day in whatever your adventure

To Success! To Life!


* For ease of reading, I have chosen to use as a generic the word “he.” This in no way implies “she” can not experience conflict.