Conflict at work


Conflict is inevitable, however positive the culture is at your workplace. And you are likely to encounter various different types of conflict as well. Task conflict, leadership conflict, creative conflict and personality conflict are some of the most common. And everyone in an organisation needs to be able to deal with each type effectively. No surprise, then, that this issue is often addressed at interview.

Here is how to answer “How do handle conflict in the workplace?” at interview, starting with a brief example of each type of conflict mentioned above.

Task Conflict

Task conflict is very common in workplaces. A classic example is managers and team members not agreeing over the distribution of tasks within a team. This may result in one team member feeling they are doing the grunt work while another co-worker is being assigned the interesting stuff.

Leadership Conflict

Two leaders in a workplace have differing views on how to manage a project. Leader A takes a top-down, authoritarian approach. They take the decisions and expect everyone to follow them. Leader B, on the other hand, has a more collaborative style. They discuss options openly with Leader A and the team. This clash of styles causes a conflict between Leader A and Leader B and between the two leaders and team members.

Creative Conflict

Your co-worker is convinced that they have the winning idea for your company presentation. The problem is that you, too, have conjured up a fantastic concept. Both ideas have their supporters and critics within the business. Creativity has caused you to be at loggerheads with one another.

Personality Conflict

As we all know, the world is made up of many different personality types. There are introverts, extroverts, thinkers, supporters…the list goes on. Different personalities approach situations, relationships and work in general very differently. Employee A is a thinker: introverted, logical, detail-oriented and organised, while Employee B is an extrovert, energetic, enthusiastic and adept at building relationships. They job share and struggle to see eye to eye or agree on much at all.

The 3 Cs Approach

The 3 Cs approach is often cited as an effective way to manage conflict – any type of conflict.

Communication: by opening a dialogue, you are showing that you have identified a conflict and want to take steps to address it with the other people involved. This step involves listening to others with respect, expressing your viewpoint, and understanding the situation from a different perspective.

Collaboration: working together, while taking into account another’s wants, needs and preferences, is a great way to find a successful solution to conflict.

Compromise: through discussion, you should be able to define a middle road – or a third way. Neither party will get exactly what they wanted, but you have found a solution that works and can move forward.

Whatever the reason for conflict in the workplace, the Three Cs approach offers a tried-and-tested way for handling it effectively. And it’s a neat and tidy response to a potentially tricky interview question, too!

The Optimal Recruitment team is well-versed in interview questions and techniques. Contact our professional team today on or 02 8416 4181.