Workplace conflict – Perspectives and opportunities


El-Karien van der Linde | Head of Psychology | Thomas International | mail me

Conflict is a reality in the working environment, and if dealt with successfully, it can result in creative and inspired solutions, stronger relationships and progressive development.

Conflict is an agent of evolution and change and a sign telling us that we can no longer maintain the status quo.

Dealing with it

Although team members may shy away from conflict situations, they must be willing to deal with it.

A safe environment must be created in which team members can be candid and direct. They must be able to see the feedback as points of reference rather than personal attacks. Team members get to know their colleagues better and productivity will subsequently increase as they have a better understanding of what makes others ‘tick’.

Employers and employees need to move past conflict by learning how to manage conflict and disagreements as it is an invaluable opportunity for personal and business growth.

The more the cycle repeats, the more everyone will become adept at handling these situations resulting in stronger and more fulfilling relationships between colleagues in the workplace.

Taking advantage of this sort of productive conflict may help us explore new possibilities, foster greater understanding and generate an array of new ideas and strengths that can fuel up productivity, creativity and innovation.


Conflict is an inevitable part of the workplace. It is how we manage it that is important. Conflict at its core is essentially different opinions; when we respond negatively we close ourselves down.

It can be to the detriment of high-performing teams when co-workers choose to shut down rather than communicate their challenges. It puts everyone in a combative state, and the hope for a great end result is diminished.

Viewing conflict positively can help us improve things, learn to appreciate individuals and tap into their own insights, knowledge, soft and hard skills that you yourself might not possess.

Unmanaged conflict is the largest reducible cost in organisations today, and the least recognised. – Dan Dana (1988).

It is therefore a choice whether to make it a source of learning, growth, self-development and professional advancement or simmering frustration and stagnation.




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