In an ideal world, every interaction you have with co-workers would be blissful. In the real workplace, both task-based and personal tension exists in interpersonal and small group situations. Job or task-related work conflicts arise when another worker encroaches on your turf or gets in the way of your ability to do your job. Personal conflicts generally result when you have values differences or personality conflicts with others.
A salesperson and a warehouse manager may experience task conflict if the salesperson needs a timely delivery and the warehouse manager doesn't deliver. As a salesperson, you rely on support staff to serve the needs of your customers. In work teams, task conflict develops when one one or more employees feels like other team members aren't fulfilling their duties or commitments to the group. A team member who fails to call on a service provider can negatively impact the team's performance.
Dealing with task-related workplace conflicts is different than dealing with personal conflicts. Effective conflict resolution is more likely if employees keep the focus on the issue or disagreement rather than each other. In work teams, a willingness to hear another person's point of view and openly discuss pros and cons of each alternative helps in working through conflicts. By maintaining good personal rapport and mutual respect with your coworkers you may limit task conflicts.
Personality conflicts are usually much more difficult to resolve than task-related work conflicts. This is because you have no underlying issue or specific item to address. Instead, you simply don't get along with another worker. In this scenario, a manager may try to coach you and the other employee to accept your differences and find ways to work together. At the extreme, the company may move one or both of you to different departments or roles to remove the impact of the conflict. If you desire to improve your relationship when a personality conflict exists, you could ask to sit down with the other worker and discuss your views and differences of opinion.
You may work with employees that come from varying ethnic, cultural, age, gender and religious backgrounds. This can lead to differences in values, life experiences and outlooks. Proactive companies have diversity management programs to encourage employees to exercise tolerance. By having an open-minded attitude and seeing diversity as an opportunity to learn, you can limit the potential that you may experience major conflicts with workers different than you.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.