Hostile Work Environments: Increased Conflict and What You Can Do About It

Not all conflict is negative. Conflict, when understood as a difference in wants, needs, or expectations, can be the catalyst for new discoveries, innovative collaborations, and unique solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems.

While conflict has the potential to promote creativity and innovation, it is also a significant contributing factor to low morale in the workplace, lack of employee engagement, stress, and physical illness. Left unaddressed, conflicts can have a devastating effect on the work environment.

Knowing when to intervene is the key to minimizing the negative effects of the conflict and maximizing its positive potential.

The conflict, at the beginning, is in the productive stage. Although people may have different views on a situation or problem, when those differences are shared and discussed, there is an opportunity for new insights, greater understanding, and dynamic solutions. At this point, the conflict can be productive. But there are two requirements of the people involved in the conflict: they must be willing to address the problem and they must be able to talk to each other.

When the conflict remains in this productive stage, the intervention of a third party is not required. The litigants themselves will work together to find an acceptable solution.

However, when the parties are unwilling to address the conflict or cannot speak together, the conflict is likely to escalate. personalized internship. At this stage, the parties involved in the conflict lose sight of the particular issue or event that started the dispute. Their approach becomes more personal and they begin to see the other party as the “real problem.” Comments become more directed against the other; It is because the other party is stubborn or unreasonable, that they cannot find a solution to the conflict. Contestants are likely to realize the failures of others in other aspects of their employment relationship as well (“I knew I was starved for power as soon as I took the lead on that last project. She is never happy with anything I do. . “) to the point where the conflict spans numerous issues and events.

It is at this stage of the conflict that intervention becomes imperative. When the disputing parties cannot speak together, a third party can help them address the conflict. In the workplace, this can mean a number of things. A manager, supervisor, or human resources staff can work as a coach, speaking with the parties individually to help them articulate their problems and explore resolution options. Contestants may need training on how to communicate their needs or expectations in a way that promotes understanding rather than adding fuel to the fire. Or the litigants may require a neutral third party to facilitate the discussion of their differences. This neutral third party would act as a mediator, ensuring that the discussion remains focused on the issues so that the parties can move toward resolution.

If not resolved in the custom stage, the conflict will continue to escalate until hostile stage. It is at this point that other people become involved in the conflict. When individual and personal annoyances between the contestants continue unabated, the parties begin to seek justification for their frustration by discussing the situation with other people. And whether other parties take sides or try to remain neutral, they become part of a larger dynamic. Assumptions are made about who is taking sides or why one litigant is supported and not another. A climate of mistrust and suspicion begins to affect everyone.

Eventually, the conflict will culminate in the polarized stage. It is at this stage when the sides of the conflict are clearly defined. There is no trust or interaction between the two parties. All communication has been completely broken. The workflow is significantly interrupted, as there is a total lack of cooperation between the disputing parties. In the workplace, a conflict at this stage usually results in a situation that is so difficult and uncomfortable that one or both parties leave the organization.

The conflict can be resolved in the hostile and polarized stage. But it gets more and more difficult. When conflicts have escalated to the hostile or polarized stage, it is often impossible to discern exactly how or where the conflict started. More people are involved in the situation. Positions have become more established. Patterns of miscommunication and mistrust have intensified. The assistance of a neutral third party is required to help the parties consider how to move forward and find opportunities to work together. Because conflict has intensified and evolved, intervention requires skill and experience to deal with intensive resolution processes.

Conflict resolution in the hostile or polarized stage is complicated and time-consuming. Some managers may have the required skills and feel comfortable dealing with conflict at this level. Others will not. But regardless of skill level, even if the manager agrees to outside assistance, dealing with this level of conflict will monopolize the manager’s workday for weeks, and sometimes months, at a time.

Managers will always be forced to deal with conflicts. Do managers often spend too little or too much time on conflict? It all depends on when they address the conflict. If allowed to escalate, the time requirements to address the conflict can become unmanageable and the end result simply satisfactory. But time spent on early conflict resolution is time well spent. It is in the early stages of conflict that resolution can enhance employees’ personal skills, build rapport in the workplace, and take advantage of creative and innovative problem-solving opportunities.