June 5, 2020 Last updated June 5th, 2020 1,524 Reads share

Types of Workplace Conflict, and 4 Tips to Prevent Them in the First Place

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Conflict is a major part of life. There’s no getting around it. And if I had to put my money on it, I bet you have had some kind of conflict before, whether it was at home, with your friends, or at work.

Workplace conflict is painful. Not to mention, it can dramatically impact your workplace’s productivity and employee morale. Stay on top of workplace bad blood by learning what types of conflict to watch out for.

3 Types of Workplace Conflict

Workplace conflict can occur at any business, including yours. Words or actions can rub somebody the wrong way, and boom, conflict arises out of thin air. Whether it’s clashing personalities, conflicting ideas, or work style differences, conflict is inevitable.

To prevent conflict in the first place, you need to know where it can stem from. Check out the main types of workplace conflict below.


Maybe you’ve experienced it. Or, maybe you are one of the lucky ones who hasn’t yet. That’s right, I’m talking about conflict between employees.

According to one source, a whopping 85% of employees have experienced some kind of workplace conflict. Employee vs. employee conflicts are bound to happen in the workplace at some point. And, they can get ugly real fast.

Here are a few signs of employee conflict that you need to keep on your radar:

  • Unhappy faces
  • Tension
  • Yelling (obviously)
  • Gossiping
  • Avoiding interaction

To help employees move past conflict, mediate the situation, listen to both sides of the story, and find a way to dissolve the dispute. If you don’t intervene, the issue can spiral out of control and begin impacting other employees (and nobody wants that).

Leadership and Management

Leaders (I’m talking to you managers, supervisors, and business owners) are expected to set an example for others. But sometimes, things get out of hand and leaders can wind up in workplace conflict.

Just like employees, leaders aren’t perfect. They make mistakes because they’re human. Leaders might scuffle with fellow leaders (e.g., managers). Or, they might even have a conflict with other employees.

Whatever the case may be, leaders are no exception to conflict at work. And, they may have to work extra hard to bounce back from conflict and regain trust (depending on the type of conflict, of course).


When you’re in business, you will likely have to deal with disgruntled customers from time to time. And with disgruntled customers can come, you guessed it, conflict.

The truth is, not every customer is going to love what you’re putting out. And, that’s just something you’re going to have to deal with as a business owner.

As an entrepreneur with 30+ years of experience and the owner of a successful accounting and payroll software company, Patriot Software, I’ve seen quite a few irate customers in my day. Everyone is going to have their own opinions about what you offer and what your business is doing.

How you handle customer conflict is what matters. Depending on the situation, you may want to:

  • Offer a discount or coupon
  • Talk things out with the customer
  • Own up to your mistake

Regardless of the reason for the conflict, stay calm and listen to what the customer has to say. You never know, they might give you some pretty valuable feedback that can better your business.

Tips to Prevent and Resolve Conflict at Work

No matter how well your team gets along, things won’t always be sunshine and rainbows. To keep things as sunshiny as possible at work, utilize these four tips to help prevent and resolve workplace conflict.

Have Regular “Family” Meetings

When you have a conflict at home, what do you do? You probably have a family meeting to resolve the issues at hand. Why not use the same concept in the workplace?

Need to prevent or solve some workplace battles? Let the work “family” meetings commence!

Meetings are a great way for co-workers to share their thoughts and feelings. Having regular meetings can help prevent conflict. Not to mention, meetings can catch workplace issues early on and stop them from snowballing out of control.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

The way you and your co-workers communicate can make or break your business. If you have good communication skills, things (for the most part) will run smoothly. With bad communication, employees can be left out of the loop and conflict can emerge.

If you truly want to avoid conflicts at your workplace, you have to be willing to communicate with everyone involved—not just one or two employees. Keep everyone necessary up to speed on projects, updates, and changes.

Failing to communicate information to co-workers or singling out which employees you plan on relaying information to can quickly blow up in your face. For the love of your small business, keep your co-workers posted!

Don’t Ignore Conflict

Let me just say this one thing: Ignoring workplace conflict, or any conflict for that matter, is never a good idea. I’ll say it louder for the employers in the back … ignoring conflict is NOT a good idea! In fact, it’s a terrible one.

Instead of avoiding conflict like the black plague, address it from the get-go. The longer you let conflicts stew, the more disgruntled your co-workers will get. As soon as you catch wind of a conflict, nip it in the bud.

Consider using one of those handy dandy family meetings I mentioned earlier to discuss the conflict. The earlier you deal with the situation, the quicker you can resolve the conflict and get things back to normal.

Keep It Calm

If you don’t tackle a conflict before it goes too far, your workplace will turn into pure pandemonium. But in order to avoid a workplace uproar in the first place, keep it calm.

As an employer, you need to be a role model for your co-workers. That means setting an example when conflicts arise and staying as calm as possible. And, try not to let your emotions or feelings get the best of you.

If you keep things calm, you’re more likely to work conflicts out rationally and can even avoid them from the start. So, take a deep breath and keep calm.

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Mike Kappel

Mike Kappel

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