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Conflict resolution: how to handle difficult workplace situations

Check out these common workplace conflicts and how to resolve them.

Conflict resolution: how to handle difficult workplace situations

Conflict and disagreements are a normal part of working life. After all, you’re dealing with humans. So no matter how much you love your employer or your job, conflicts can crop up. 

There are different ways to handle conflict. How you handle these difficult situations will influence your time at work. But it’s not always easy to know how to address conflict in the workplace.

So let’s take a look at some common workplace conflicts and how you can overcome them.

4 examples of conflict in the workplace

A colleague is taking credit for your work

Sometimes colleagues (or even managers) can take credit for your work. It may be intentional. Or it may not. Either way, it’s not a nice feeling when you’re not given the credit you deserve.


Don’t jump to conclusions or create stories in your mind. Instead, address it head on. Speak with the person and give them the benefit of the doubt. It might be a totally innocent mistake. Ask them how they gave credit for your work. If they don’t show signs of giving you credit, you might consider raising this directly with your manager.

A colleague is trying to engage you in a heated political/religious debate

People at work come from all different backgrounds. So they have different beliefs. Unfortunately, some people aren’t able to respect others’ beliefs. They may even be offended by your beliefs. But it’s important to remember that everyone has the right to their opinion.


If a colleague is probing you for answers about your beliefs, you always have the option to disengage. And this would be the best solution if you can feel them getting heated. Let go of the need to impose your own beliefs or be right. Tell them you prefer not to discuss these types of topics with colleagues. You have the right to assert your own boundaries.

Your manager asks you to do work outside your job description

When managers ask us to do something, most people feel compelled to do it. It feels awkward to say no, right? And you don’t want your boss to think poorly of you. But you have a right to say no. 


Arrange a meeting with your manager. Start the conversation out positively by explaining what you enjoy about your role. Then try to explain your situation objectively. Your boss may not even be aware you’re struggling with your workload. So it’s all about communication. Reassure your boss that you want to do the best possible job. But tell them you don’t have the capacity to take on extra work whithout it effecting the quality of your other work. Hopefully, your boss respects this. If they don’t, you may need to escalate it higher.

Your colleague keeps trying to outdo you

A bit of competition in the workplace is normal. But sometimes colleagues can take it too far. And this can take away from your workplace enjoyment. And in the end, it will affect your relationships with colleagues.


If your colleague is constantly trying to outdo you, they may be feeling a little insecure. Try to reframe your relationship with them. Compliment them on their work. Give them credit for their achievements. Ask for their opinion or advice on workplace projects. By doing this, they’ll feel more supported by you.  The relationship will become more balanced. If you still feel they’re being too aggressive with their competition, you may want to address it in a private conversation.

Don’t let it fester

Problems and conflict with colleagues will always crop up at work. But the worst thing you can do is… nothing! Don’t ignore the problem. The longer you ignore it, the quicker you’ll end up leaving your job. Don’t jump to conclusions either. Listen first. And seek ways to resolve it head on. This may be through a conversation with your colleague or manager. Or it may mean behaving differently to build better workplace relationships.

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