3 Common Myths Regarding Conflict in the Workplace

By Pramila M Mathew

Organizational conflict needs no specific introduction; however, resolving conflict is an important function that needs attention in the corporate world. The dynamism that exists amongst individuals creates diverse interests, hence leading to conflict. While constructive conflict is always good for an organization, the reverse could be detrimental – sometimes affecting its very roots. It impacts organizations – large and small.

Workplace conflict resolution and conflict resolution strategies have been written about widely in the past. The main focus of this article is twofold:

  1. Addressing the common myths that surround organizational conflict resolution
  2. Conflict Resolution Training that would help prevent conflict from eating into the culture of the organization

There are three common myths that surround conflict. It is important to remember that the following myths have been proven wrong. From this, it is more important to realize that conflict can be effectively harnessed for the benefit of the organization.

  1. The presence of conflict is a sign of poor organizational culture.
  2. The presence of conflict is a sign of poor management.
  3. Conflict, if left alone, will take care of itself.

1. The presence of conflict is a sign of poor organizational culture: Many times, healthy conflict is required to keep the organization “up on its toes”, so as to say. It can be used to bring out constructive ideas that would be helpful to fuelling the growth of the organization. Organizational conflict can be a cyclic and continuous process. It is in the organization’s interest to acknowledge the presence of conflict, and then take the necessary steps to channel this energy in the right direction.

2. The presence of conflict is a sign of poor management: During times of conflict, it is easy to play the blame game. But accusing one another and even oneself is not going to solve the problem. It only makes matters worse.

Care must be taken so that interpersonal conflict does not affect one’s work tasks laid out for him. The management must ensure that they recognize negative conflict and “nip it in the bud”.

The top down approach works best, as in many other organizational systems and processes. When the management has taken steps and is headed in the right direction, the lower rung of the organization would naturally follow. It would be simpler to streamline the occasional few who don’t fall into place, as the system would be built in a procedural manner. Therefore handling issues such as organizational conflict would not be an unexplored arena for the management.

3. Conflict, if left alone, will take care of itself: As reinforced earlier, conflict arises due to differences in ideas or opinions. And like any other relationship, conflict too can become the weed that thwarts organizational growth and harmony. Once conflict is identified, it should not be allowed to grow unchecked. Unlike physical wounds, the damaging effects of organizational conflict are far more lasting and have a profound effect.

For constructive conflict to take place, the three factors to be considered are:

a. Identification of conflict – the cause and source

b. Enactment of a solution to counteract the detrimental effect of conflict

c. Resolution of the source of conflict at the grass root level – failure to do so would lead to recurrence of the problem

How does Conflict Resolution Training help?

Conflict, when resolved as a win-win to both parties concerned, is constructive. What makes the resolution constructive or destructive is the outcome. Negative emotions when triggered in an interaction leads to conflict. Our emotions are what protect us from dangerous situations. However, it can also paralyse you when you need to think logically. Conflict Resolution Training teaches the techniques that help you to stay calm and not go into panic in difficult situations; thus being able to think rationally. These techniques help to resolve workplace conflict and more importantly, build a common understanding and framework for collaboratively working towards tackling challenging situations.

About the author

MMM Training Solutions conducts soft skills training, executive coaching and leadership training programs for corporates in India and abroad. We are experts in the field of conflict resolution training. Our training programs are customised based on the objectives, experience of the target audience and the type of industry. We have been in business since 2005 and some of our clients include Daimler, Standard Chartered Bank, Microsoft, Novartis, Cipla, Deloitte, Caterpillar and many more. Pramila Mathew, Owner and Founder of MMM, has a dual background in Business and Psychology and has significant work experience in both India and USA. Please visit our website to know more about our programs and our trainers.