Why Conflict at Work Isn’t a Bad Thing

Catherine Tabuena
Posted by in Career Advice

Most of us avoid conflict at work. We don’t want to get ourselves involved with another office drama. According to CCP Global Human Capital, the annual cost of workplace conflict in the U.S. is worth $359 billion dollars in lost time productivity. Although disagreements are inevitable, workplace disputes can be good for both employees and business owners. Below are ways in which conflict at work can be good for you.

  • Conflict changes your perspective. When a conflict arises, we often consider using a different approach or doing something we’re not familiar with to get the job done. Sometimes a colleague’s different point of view- which in certain cases can cause major conflict within a team- can help reveal flaws in a project and produce new ideas that might otherwise have not been considered.


  • Conflict can create better outcomes. Innovations come from being forced to solve a problem. When you and your coworkers continually ask if there’s a better, faster, or more cost-effective approach, that creative thinking will probably lead you and your team to find previously unexplored possibilities and create novel solutions. Conflict also plays a vital role in identifying and mitigating tasks. It will force you to explore the advantages and disadvantages of each approach and find the best solutions to your problems.


  • Conflict gives us opportunities to learn and grow. Has someone ever told you that your work sucks? Most of us have had our abilities and ideas challenged. While upsetting, conflict gives us an opportunity to learn. By listening and incorporating feedback, you learn from your mistakes, gain experience, see a different perspective, try new things, improve your skills, and develop as a professional.


  • Conflict can improve job satisfaction. A study of American and Chinese employees found that those who avoid conflict and adopt a more passive conflict handling style ignore or play down work-related problems, which causes more stress and animosity between disputants. If you want to be happier at the office, you shouldn’t be afraid to give constructive feedback about issues at work. The key is learning how to manage conflict effectively. Instead of feeling like you have to walk on eggshells, show care for others, focus on common interests and pursue a win-win situation when managing conflict. If you do it right, you’ll feel more satisfied with what you accomplished and gain more enjoyable interactions with colleagues.


  • Conflict helps strengthen relationships. As surprising as this sounds, workplace conflict between employees, departments, and even competitors can help build relations through mutual understanding and respect. Working through conflict could make people feel closer to each other and they’ll learn insights and which work style preference is valued by both sides.


  • Conflict forces us to ask questions. Workplace disputes tend to open a pandora box of questions for those on both sides of the issue. Although difficult and sometimes agonizing, asking these questions can lead to new ideas and breakthroughs that can benefit employees, departments, and even entire organizations. Without conflict, nothing changes. We need to question and continuously challenge the status quo to be able to grow as individuals or improve an organization’s performance. Conflict gives us an opportunity to reconsider the possibilities.


  • Conflict ends stagnation. As with everything in life, change is inevitable. In the 1990s, Netflix innovated by shipping out DVDs to customers’ homes while Blockbuster didn’t. The former CEO of Blockbuster John Antioco thought it was ridiculous and derided the idea as a niche market not worth pursuing. Fast forward to 2010, Blockbuster files for bankruptcy and Netflix is worth $28 billion dollars. Businesses that avoid conflict are evading change. It’s a futile endeavor that could cause the downfall of even the most successful organizations. Companies who encourage staff to handle conflict effectively by approaching them in a positive and productive way can beat stagnation and continue to provide clients with new and innovative solutions to meet their needs.

Disagreements at work are bound to happen every now and then. The key is learning to manage conflict effectively. Every conflict we face- whether professional or personal- is rich with positive and negative potential. If you want to progress in your career, you need to accustom yourself to conflict and view it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Don’t fear conflict; embrace it!


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  • Sylvia C.
    Sylvia C.

    I've been experiencing this nbtry to avoid conflict bit I feel that it's just made me more of a target as much as I hv tried to avoid it.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Tendai N. thanks for your comment. If possible you should walk away from anything that provokes. However, when it comes to your job, you have to take a step back - take a couple of deep breaths and try to resolve the issues that provoke you instead of just walking away. Conflicts occur in most jobs at some point. You just have to learn some conflict resolution tips and techniques and use these as a means of growth.


    They say walk away from anything that provoks y

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