Low Trust in the Workplace: Inability to Deal with Conflict

A few weeks ago I revisited a post from several years ago about Trust in the Workplace.  In today’s post we will review the entire list and focus on one in particular.

The entire list of issues includes:

  1. Lack of communication or no communication
  2. Inability to give honest, direct, and timely feedback
  3. Unwillingness to deal with conflict
  4. Growth of Cliques
  5. Growing employee turnover

Today we will highlight the Unwillingness to deal with conflict in the workplace.

At one point in my life, I would have said that not dealing with conflict meant avoiding conflict.  While this is true, there are other ways to not deal with conflict in the workplace.  Avoiding is one method, but others may include dealing with the symptoms and not the causes.  This may involve only addressing the behaviors and not drilling down to the root causes of the behaviors.  Let’s look at an example of this:

Dan is quick to confront others when they challenge his ideas.  As a result of Dan’s agressive behavior, many of his peers and superiors either ignore Dan or  only ask him to modify his behavior.  Here are other steps they should consider:

  1. When a situation flares up, ask Dan to discuss why he responded the way he did. 
  2. Ask him to describe how he felt when he was challenged
  3. Ask Dan when he first remembers this type of response
  4. Encourage him to think first before responding and to try a different approach when it makes better sense to do so

All of us are triggered by previous events and it takes time to “rewire” or change our responses.  In most cases, it will require writing down the type of incident that causes the trigger and then writing the new response(s).  Reciting these responses and also asking others to review or coach you through these issues will also help.

Dealing with conflict is essential, but avoiding conflict can cause festering issues that will surface at times when you least suspect them.

Better to confront conflict and then drill down to the root causes.

When you do so, put steps into place that will remedy the triggering actions so that behavior can be changed.

It may save your relationships and your career.