Tension of opposites drives workplace conflict (Guest Commentary)

Problem solving can transform tension into opportunity
By Danielle Gault
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 12/09/2009

The workplace is full of different personalities and work styles, which inevitably leads to conflict. The story of Lisa, an administrative assistant, and Frank, her manager, illustrates different styles of work and how they create conflict.

Frank was a rather loud, extroverted person who talked to Lisa about her work in vague terms, using abstract words and big picture generalizations. He constantly tried to see how many ways there were to fit various pieces of the whole together. His natural inclination was to persuade someone to do something through his compelling explanations. Lisa would leave meetings with Frank wondering how she should proceed.

By her nature and job function, Lisa wanted a step-by-step pattern for getting the job done, and struggled to figure out how to schedule and meet deadlines. Her approach not only left Frank feeling boxed in but forced him into a debating mode of pros and cons. As a result, both began to feel inadequate and started to consider the other unprofessional.