Solving workplace conflict starts with self-awareness

Getting to the root of problems means understanding everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, including one’s own
By Frank Handy
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/08/2004

Dealing with office conflict is one of those management tasks with high risks, low rewards and seemingly no end in sight. Negative patterns can develop despite a manager’s best efforts. Standard approaches become ineffective, and breakthroughs are only temporary.

As a manager watches her office environment lapse back into negative behaviour, she may start to ponder more radical responses. She loses perspective, finds no one appreciates her efforts, and may let things build up until the situation explodes and someone is transferred, gets fired or quits. The stress is unpleasant and the impact on the workplace can be profound.

How can workplaces deal with such situations in a more effective way? First, there is no one magic answer when people are involved. Everyone has particular strengths and weaknesses when it comes to interacting with others. Each worker has a preferred approach to situations, based on training, experience, skills, emotional makeup and relationship with others.