Handling conflict at work

Written by: RICS Recruit
Published on: 13 Aug 2015

Workplace conflict is an unavoidable consequence of professional life. It exists in every organisation and to a certain extent indicates a healthy exchange of ideas and creativity. However, allowing bad feeling to build and intensify will only further impair the work environment.

Recent research has indicated that HR managers spend 25% to 60% of their time working through employee conflict, while more than 25% of workers said they were less productive because they spent time trying to avoid confrontation with a co-worker.

Counterproductive conflict can result in employee dissatisfaction, reduced productivity, and poor service. This makes conflict management critical, whether avoiding arguments, disputes, lasting conflict or ultimately, litigation.


Often, conflict occurs because of a misunderstanding and making assumptions on why something is happening without any input from the other side. Summarise the areas of agreement and disagreement and ask the other person if they agree with the assessment.


Listening to an issue is the first and most important step. All parties involved should be allowed to have their say, and then the trouble shooting can begin


Talking honestly to each other may be all that is needed to resolve the issue before it has the chance to escalate.


Encouragement and motivation are powerful tools in reminding staff and colleagues of the importance of working in a team.


Agree on a plan that meets the needs of all parties and the organisation, with follow-up steps, as necessary, to ensure it is working. Set clear goals for each person and know how you will measure success.