Part One: Why is Conflict Resolution So Important in a Workplace

I would like to begin this col­umn by highlighting the fact that wherever there are people there is always the possibility of conflict. Through this column I wish to fo­cus
28 Apr 2018 11:01
Part One: Why is Conflict Resolution So Important in a Workplace

I would like to begin this col­umn by highlighting the fact that wherever there are people there is always the possibility of conflict.

Through this column I wish to fo­cus upon those conflicts that hap­pen between people or rather be­tween professionals belonging to different departments or different positions in an organisation and I wish to do this through a real life situation that happened and to which I was a witness.

The monthly meeting between all the Heads of Departments (HODs) was transpiring smoothly.

Each of the HODs had to de­liver a presentation about their achievements as well as their fail­ures or challenges that they were encountering.

This was also the opportunity for them to talk about their ways of dealing with their failures.

I remember the specific scenar­io when the head of sales began speaking about the lack of co-ordination between their depart­ment and the marketing depart­ment.

“Our products need to be mar­keted better and only with more effective and innovative market­ing and advertising strategies we will be able to sell our broad range of products more successfully in the market” Anjesh, the head of Sales, said. with a stare towards Rajeshwar who was the head of the marketing department.

“No Anjesh, I completely disa­gree with you on this.

“I believe we are providing your sales team with a very positive marketing back-up. Our market­ing strategy is extremely effective.

“Maybe it is you who needs to look at your own department first and its weaknesses before point­ing fingers at the Marketing de­partment. I think there may be a need to improve your team’s sell­ing skills” Rajeshwar responded to Anjesh.

This tussle of thoughts between the two went on for almost ten minutes until some of the other HODs intervened and pacified them.

The meeting of the HODs con­tinued for another hour. Presenta­tions were made by the others on their respective topics.

However, through all this both the HODs, Anjesh and Rajeshwar were seated in stoic silent.

Both of them also seemd to be in an unpleasant and upset mood. As soon as the meeting got over all the HODs left the room, but Rajeshwar and Anjesh stayed there and began arguing with each other once again.

This time there was no one to stop them.

A week had passed by and the word got around about the two’s conflict not only between the two HODs but that this conflict had percolated into their respective teams.

What was most unfortunate was that their fracas was creating a very negative effect even on the functioning of their entire busi­ness.

Tension between departments

The communication between the sales and the marketing depart­ment and their respective team members was deteriorating stead­fastly and was thereby affecting their overall interpersonal rela­tionships as as well as the collec­tive team.

The conflict was creating a nega­tive atmosphere around the entire organisation.

People across the various depart­ments were not just talking about it but there were some HODs who were now even taking sides.

One conflict had quite quickly created a negative domino effect within the organisation.

A month had passed by and it was time for the next HOD meet­ing.

This time the chief Executive Of­ficer Jatin Lal, had expressed his specific desire to be present at the meeting.

It was 3pm and all the HODs had walked into the conference room.

However, there was something extremely unexpected that was being witnessed.

Both Rajeshwar and Anjesh walked into the room pleasantly chatting with each other and even sharing what seemed like a joke.

Both of them seemed to have mended their differences and had in fact developed a positive rap­port.

The other HODs were simply as­tonished seeing this.

They least expected the two col­leagues of theirs to be so friendly with one another.

As the HODs sat on their respec­tive chairs, the CEOs stood up and addressed all of them passionate­ly. “Good afternoon to all of you. You may be a bit surprised with my presence in this meeting espe­cially because I never attend them unless it found to be extremely necessary. This time though, I felt it was very important to attend the meeting,” said Mr Lal.

“Dear colleagues, I have come here to address you and that too with a specific message. The mes­sage is conflict management or conflict Resolution.

“Yes, apart from your multitude of tasks and responsibilities as HODs, I firmly believe that there is an important responsibility that each of you must take up and this responsibility is to develop your attitude towards resolving conflicts if and when they were to happen.

“I was apprised about the heated argument that had ensued be­tween our very able and success­ful colleagues, Rajeshwar and Anjesh.

“They had their differences but then these differences and disa­greements got worse and escalat­ed to the point that the coordina­tion and communication between their respective departments got negatively affected.

“It was at this time that I decided to intervene and resolve their con­flict.

Conflicts are natural and develop the attitude to resolve and not evolve

“However what is most impor­tant is that they are back together as cohesive colleagues, just the way they were before the argu­ment happened between them.

“In this meeting I would like to share and enlighten you about the importance of not allowing an ar­gument to escalate into a conflict and even if a conflict does get cre­ated how we must resolve it soon­er than later.”

“Dear HODs, the first and fore­most thing I wish to tell you is to perceive conflicts as a natural aspect within an interpersonal re­lationship of every organisation,” the CEO said.

“Having said this what is more important is to not let the conflict evolve into something more nega­tive and vicious.

“Rather, we must develop the ma­turity to resolve the conflict.

“There will be disagreements and contrary points of views be­tween two colleagues, but it is in such situations that we must try our best to debate or argue intelli­gently and wisely with the prima­ry intention of solving a situation and it is this attitude which will make us successful professionals.

Don’t make it personal: make it


What happened between Rajesh­war and Anjesh was that their ar­gument became personal.

Rajeshwar felt very insulted by the way Anjesh addressed him.

He was especially upset by the tone with which Anjesh had spo­ken about Rajeshwar and his mar­keting department.

He felt Anjesh was humiliating him in front of the other HODs in the room and due to this, as a vengeful reaction, Rajeshwar did the same to Anjesh.

This therefore became the seed of the conflict and which grew from bad to worse.

My simple yet firm request to each of one you is to always look look at a ‘counter argument’ through a logical or practical per­spective and not through personal or emotional standpoints.

I know what I am advising you about is not easy to practice, but as professionals we must try our best to do so.


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