Underlying many interpersonal conflicts are inaccurate assumptions that are not founded on facts.

Conflict is a natural and very typical phenomenon in every type of human relationship and at every level. People get involved in conflicts because their interests or their values are challenged, or because their needs are not met.

When conflict escalates in the workplace, the costs to company – in terms of legal disputes, loss of productivity, poor morale and high staff turnover – are immeasurable.  These high costs beg for Conflict Management Interventions to be implemented in the workplace. The cost of resolving conflict is negligible when compared to the costs of leaving conflicts unresolved.

Workplace conflict is notoriously characterised by Communication problems. People often say things that are not interpreted by the recipient in the way the statement was intended. When people are angry with each other, the likelihood of misinterpreting communication is greatly increased. Often disputants do not have reliable skills for communicating with opposing parties.

Successful communication requires that both parties listen actively and carefully confirm interpretations, making sure they understand what the other person means. Few people put any effort into this, as most people are so busy planning their response in a conflict situation or are so defensive, that they don’t hear what their opponent is saying.

Addressing the conflict with a fully integrated approach is a viable and effective method for cutting potential costs.  There are several components that are critical to the success of these interventions:


  • Training programmes:
    1. These should be used to enhance employees’ interpersonal communication skills as well as deepen their awareness of how and why conflict is created.
    2. This type of training programme should be strategically tailored and customised to the culture of the organisation and the specific conflict issues. This is a wonderfully proactive and preventative measure.
    3. These programmes raise awareness of reactions in conflict situations where employees’ might react submissively or aggressively rather than assertively. In addition, they provide tools to respond to aggression non-defensively.



  • Neutral Conflict Resolution Interventions:
    1. These require third party professional resources to resolve disputes constructively, before they result in a complete break-down of relationships.
    2. External facilitator’s may have the advantage over internal OD staff as they foster greater credibility and trust.


  • Supportive environment:
    1. The organisation needs to have policies and procedures in place that address many of the predictable disputes.
    2. In addition, an EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) should be available to support employees through the process.


LifeLine Johannesburg’s Corporate Training Division has been involved in training companies for over 20 years. We have a core competence in improving emotional intelligence in employee. Visit our website on www.l2training.co.za for more information

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