Address personality conflicts at work and thrive

Marcus Straub
Marcus Straub

The effective, efficient and smooth flow of information is critical to consistently meeting and exceeding the wants and needs of customers, foreseeing challenges and overcoming obstacles. Good communication is no less essential to producing and delivering high-quality goods and services in a timely manner. When communication is limited or even impossible because of personality conflicts, the effects can be profound.

Personality conflicts hurt businesses by hampering not only communication, but also collaboration, teamwork and morale. In turn, everything from efficiency and productivity to team member satisfaction and retention to business growth and profitability are affected. The degree to which team members don’t communicate and collaborate presents one of the biggest obstacles to business success.

It’s important for business owners and managers to be aware of the negative behaviors that are a result of personality conflicts and to address them early and effectively to maintain communication, collaboration, teamwork and morale at consistently high levels.

Do you recognize any or all of these sabotaging behaviors in your business?

Avoidance: Some people choose avoidance to cope with a personality conflict. While this might offer a more quiet and discreet way of dealing with the situation, it’s not effective in fostering the high levels of communication, collaboration and trust necessary in highly functional businesses.

Verbal sabotage: Gossip and snide comments are common when there’s a personality conflict between team members. This type of negativity doesn’t lead to positive outcomes and can significantly damage the work environment. It has no place in a powerful business model.

Resistance: When in resistance mode, individuals openly or overtly resist the suggestions, desires, directions and demands of the people with which they conflict. They might even demonstrate intentionally spiteful actions intended to get back at or push the other person’s buttons. This type of behavior is not part of a successful team.

Arguing: This behavior is the antithesis of effective communication, collaboration and teamwork and doesn’t contribute to positive environments in which team members perform at peak levels. Arguments and aggressive disagreements disrupt operations, send negativity rippling throughout the business and damage morale and company culture.

If you recognize some or all of these behaviors in yourself or your team members, it’s important to realize the tremendous drag they exert on the team, resources, operations and profitability of your company. When top talent and customers are lost as a result of these conflicts, it’s already gone too far. Given the overwhelming downside personality conflicts bring to a business, it’s imperative to discover, address and overcome them as quickly as possible.

Many personality conflicts arise out of unconscious habits and tendencies that exist within each team member. Sometimes these habits can easily be corrected by simply drawing attention to the damaging negative behaviors in which team members engage and making it clear they’re not acceptable.

Team trainings built upon highly accurate assessment results and designed to help people understand themselves and others — their similarities and differences — and also teach them how to effectively communicate with various behavioral types are invaluable to business success. With greater understanding and acceptance of each other and enhanced communication skills, personality conflicts are significantly reduced.

Effective coaching helps people become fully aware of the situation at hand and their role in it. By working with a qualified professional, team members learn to take responsibility for their attitudes and corresponding behaviors. They can then correct them to create a more positive and collaborative work environment.

Another option for reducing personality conflicts is to proactively hire for both attitudes and skills. Through the use of assessments that measure the attitudes and skills of the team member you bring into your business, personality conflicts can be diminished from the outset.

Sometimes, team members insist on keeping conflicts alive and refuse to resolve differences. In these instances, the wisest choice is to let them go. Any time you reduce negativity in the workplace, you improve the satisfaction level of the team and, in turn, customer service and profitability.

Each of us is unique. We won’t always agree. But when strategic investments are made in helping team members better understand themselves and others, it becomes easier to accept differences. Communication and collaboration become the norm. It takes a well-designed team working together in a culture free of personality conflicts to deliver the best possible experience to customers.