Conflict in the Workplace: It’s Emotional, not Personal

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What has been clear in my observations of workplace conflict is that it is not about different personalities not getting along. It’s about people not wanting to, not able to, or not allowing themselves to feel emotions while in the moment of conflict. Companies offer training on various personality models hoping that understanding a coworker’s personality profile will help them in approaching the one they are in conflict with. However, the coworker’s personality is not the fundamental problem to conflict in the workplace.

People get emotional during conflict. One person believes things should be a certain way, while the other person believes it should be another way. One person thinks the process should be this way, while the other person thinks it should be that way. What happens in the moment of conflict is the body is feeling a surge of emotions that it cannot contain and express in the appropriate way while at work.

Companies can continue to offer personality models to address and help employees deal with conflict. However, offering employees training on how to feel, contain, and process emotions during a conflict will ensure conflicts be dealt with and issues resolved.

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