Helpful Guide to Personality Conflicts

8 considerations when you encounter conflict at work

1/21/20212 min read

three women sitting beside table
three women sitting beside table

Personality Clashes at Work. We have all been there, even me. Personality clashes at the office cause tension and reduce productivity. It can be difficult to reconcile different work styles and value systems, but it is important for colleagues to find a way to get along.If you’re losing your patience, consider these tips before you say something that you’ll regret to your coworker in the next cubicle (or virtual cubicle if you’re still working from home like I am)

Tip #1: Examine your part. It is easy to think of all of the things the other person has done to you. However, the most effective thing you can do is to acknowledge what you are contributing to the situation. You can control your feelings and responses even if you have little influence over your coworker’s actions.

Tip # 2: Develop compassion. No matter who you are, there will be ups and downs in your life. If your coworker’s habits are troubling for you, imagine how they may be feeling. You may find it easier to accept their flaws when you remember how you’ve struggled with your own life challenges. Considering how you act or react when you are sad, under pressure, overwhelmed, or just having an off day may help you have a little more empathy and understanding toward your coworker.

Tip #3: Think positive. The mind is a powerful tool. There is more to your colleagues than the quirks that bother you. Focus on their strong points and what they contribute to the workplace. When you consider what they bring to the table and the part they play in the organization’s overall success, you are likely to appreciate them more.

Tip #4: Listen closely. I am sure you have heard the saying, “listen to understand not respond.” Listening to understand is an essential tool in slowing down the “communication breakdown.” Letting your coworkers know that you care about their success can prevent misunderstandings. Ask them to discuss your differences and work on solutions together. Pay attention to what they say instead of making assumptions about their intent.

Tip #5: Reach out. Many of you may still be working remotely and may be tempted to send an email rather than speak face-to-face (or virtually) with someone who annoys you. However, in situations of conflict or misunderstanding, talking face-to-face may be a better alternative.

Tip #6: Set boundaries. On the other hand, if your efforts to make peace keep stalling, you may need to agree to disagree. You will not always agree with your coworkers and that is ok. The disagreement is usually not the problem. The frustration usually has to do with the tone, interpretation, or the employee’s actions. Sometimes just having the opportunity to talk, even if you do not come to an agreement can be helpful.

Tip #7: Ask for help. If you are unable to resolve the conflict on your own, consider bringing in a third party. Tell your boss or Human Resources about your concerns. They may want to intervene or recruit an outside mediator when necessary.

Tip #8: Recognize other issues. Be prepared to take a different approach if your conflict is caused by something other than personality traits. For example, there may be contradictory business goals that would create friction between employees in certain positions. Be objective with considering contributing factors. While you and your coworkers may have different individual tasks, you are all working towards the same organizational goals. It can be difficult to reconcile different work styles and value systems, but it is important for colleagues to find a way to get along.