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Blowing the Whistle on Workplace Conflict

Posted 8 years ago

Most of us have witnessed the ill effects of workplace conflict. Generally it’s behavioral bias and simple misunderstandings that lead to a devolving workplace environment. While DISC and it’s related instruments offer organizations a comprehensive solution, it’s helpful if leaders can spot the common sources and costs associated with this issue. Lucky for us, executive coach and author Tammy Holyfield writes on this very subject! In today’s story on Platinum Rules for Success, Tammy provides her road-map for first understanding and then addressing this common challenge.

Blowing the Whistle on Workplace Conflict

by Tammy Holyfield

“I have gone from leader to referee. Members of my staff are in constant conflict with one another and with me. This is creating an unpleasant and stressful environment. I have tried to be patient, but I need solutions!” [dropcap type=”square or circle”] P [/dropcap]eace should be a top priority in the workplace. The ability to  address and resolve conflict is essential to effectiveness, productivity and profit. Studies reveal a staggering 25 percent of employee time is spent engaging in – or trying to resolve – conflict. When emotions are high, intellect is low.
The Three Sources of  Workplace Conflict
There are three main sources that cause conflict in the workplace: Hurt, fear and frustration.

  1. Hurt is the source of much contention. Hurt is most often caused by vague expectations or jealousy–which leads to anger, resentment and revenge. Workplace anger is costly in time, mistakes, stress, morale, performance and customer service, not to mention the physical consequences of the angry person.
  2. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. There are more fears and phobias than letters in the alphabet. Fear of failure, fear of success and fear of public humiliation are great contributors to conflict.
  3. Frustration is like water just about to boil. Every person has priorities and expectations. For example, being on time may be important to you; if your staff arrives late you may become frustrated.

Responses to Workplace Conflict
People respond to conflict in three ways: Explosion, implosion or resolution.
Explosion occurs when pressure exists. Jefferson said, “If you are angry, count to 10, if you are really angry count to 100.” When we explode, anger turns into danger.
Implosion is like buried toxic waste waiting to surface. We can pretend it doesn’t exist, but in truth it is growing. This repressed conflict can manifest itself into bitterness and depression among other physical and psychological problems.
The Road to Resolution in Workplace Conflict: Recall, Resolve and Forgive
Recall the words or situation to give you insight. What part did you play in the conflict exchange? Try to understand the position of the other party and be flexible.
Resolve it. “Anyone who loves his opinion more than his teammates will advance his opinions but set back the team.” –John C. Maxwell. Success is relational. No problem can withstand strategic, solution- focused thinking.
Forgive. Make the move and ask to be forgiven. Is forgiveness easy? No. Forgiveness does not mean that we agree or that we approve. Forgiveness allows us to let go of the wrongs done so we can release the anger and resentment. Learning to forgive will not only improve your health, it will allow you to refocus on more important objectives.
The ability to work together in harmony and to resolve inevitable conflicts are indispensable skills to long-term success. However, many organizations are far from peaceful. Instead they are faced with conflict, escalated tension and continual frustration. They are not working together for a common goal; they are in competition with each other.
As a leader you may consider communicating the purpose of each position as it relates to your corporate objective. This will create confidence and understanding. Develop a plan, processes or guidelines to deal with conflict. This will save time and resources when conflicts arise. Ask for input from your staff.
Depending on how we approach workplace conflict, it can either stop us or stretch us so we not only overcome but we also become a better person in the process. It is our choice.
Conflicts, tension and challenges will always arise within the workplace, but we can learn how to deal effectively with them. This will prevent the eroding of trust and combat revenge. As we understand the root of many conflicts to be hurt, fear and frustration then we can see the solution in a more human light.


Interested in learning more about DISC specialty reports designed specifically for conflict resolution? Assessments 24×7’s proprietary DISC Collaboration report offers both a proactive and reactive solution to improving the interpersonal workplace dynamic of any two individuals. Like our DISC Group/Team reports, the DISC Collaboration report is a complimentary account feature. Learn more about the revolutionary DISC Collaboration report HERE.

Tammy Holyfieldworkplace conflict is a business development strategist, professional speaker, leadership expert, author and consultant, on a mission to teach and inspire people to improve their everyday life. Using the methods and principles she teaches, Tammy has overcome great obstacles. Her message is dynamic, encouraging people to succeed and inspiring them to act!
Holyfield began her professional career in marketing and served as the Director of Marketing for Summit Pet Product Distributors, the IAMs Pet Food (Proctor and Gamble) regional distribution center. Today, she is the founder and CEO of Holyfield Consulting, a personal and business development company. Holyfield Consulting specializes in organizational development, strategic planning, communication, building trust, strengthening teams, leadership development, increasing accountability and executing results. Each week she writes a column entitled “Ask the Coach”® which provides readers a fresh perspective on current challenges facing the business world.
Tammy addresses thousands of people each year from diverse Fortune 500 companies and has consulted, and trained entrepreneurs, CEO’s, professionals and individuals from all walks of life. Her ideas are proven, practical and get results. And clients say that working with Tammy created an increase in moral, solidified corporate culture, and bridged the communication gap from vision to results. Her audiences and clients agree, Tammy teaches techniques and strategies that are easy to understand and put to use immediately to achieve greater results in their lives and careers.
Her latest book hit number 2 on the Amazon Best-Seller list, co-authored with the legendary business development expert, best-selling author and speaker, Brian Tracy. “Counter-Attack: Business Strategies for Explosive Growth in the New Economy” will feature Brian Tracy along with leading experts from around the world across diverse fields of business.