Conflict in the workplace can leave you feeling frustrated and discouraged. You want to do your job, but miscommunications and contention seem to be the tone of the workday. You are left to endure co-workers who complain and managers with misperceptions.
No matter your level at your job, conflict is an inescapable part of the work environment. A recent CPP Global Human Capital Report indicated that an overwhelming 85 percent of employees at every level faced conflict to some degree, based on a joint study completed in partnership with OPP. This study also found that U.S. employees spend 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict, which equates to approximately $359 billion in paid hours to employees during 2008.
These results do not mean that all conflict has an adverse effect on business. Some conflict might even be good for a company. In a recent post by Joe Peterson, chairman of JetBlue Airlines, he said conflict in high-trust organizations can be a good thing. Healthy conflict can encourage creativity and engagement. However, dysfunctional conflict fractures your business and reduces your productivity.
A conflict study by Psychometrics found that adverse conflict comes in a variety of forms, including ego and personality clashes, poor leadership, lack of honesty, stress, and clashing values. In the study, 3 out of 4 participants saw these conflicts result in personal insults and attacks, someone being fired, or sickness and absence. These harmful disputes create an atmosphere of distrust and introduce confusion into the workplace. An environment of trust becomes one of frustration and discouragement when conflict becomes dysfunctional. In this situation, you may feel powerless to change the antagonistic actions.
Although you cannot control the people or situation in conflict, you can incorporate three actions into your day that offer some stability when discord causes you to struggle.