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Navigating Workplace Conflict: Why it’s So Tricky Now and What To Do About It

by | Oct 9, 2023 | By Karin Hurt and David Dye, powerful phrases |

Navigating Workplace Conflict is Getting Harder: Here’s What You Can Do

The workforce has been through unprecedented change, navigating workplace conflict in the last few years—for better and worse. Stress, disengagement, quiet quitting, and mass resignations… Has all the rapid change led to more workplace conflict? Is conflict wearing us all down? At what cost?

research findings

Click here to listen to an excerpt of our interview on Brainwaves Anthology where we discuss the research findings.

A Glimpse into the World Workplace Conflict and Collaboration Survey Results

workplace conflict survey resultsWe surveyed 5000+ full-time workers in over 45 countries and in all 50 United States. It turns out navigating workplace conflict is becoming more of an issue everywhere you go.

70% of participants report the same or more conflict over the last few years.


Tired Workers in a Tired Economy

Of course, the reasons are complex. The pandemic-inspired shift to remote work and hybrid teams left many people longing for deeper human connection. Many organizations are still wrestling with the new reality of remote and hybrid workforces.

Managers are relearning how to lead and support their teams. Teams are figuring out how to build meaningful relationships and get work done. These rapid changes and missing human connections fuel conflict.

As mask mandates, stay-at-home orders, and online-only schooling fade into the rearview mirror, it’s easy to forget the pandemic’s disruption in nearly every aspect of life. But the COVID-19 pandemic traumatized many people and left scars.

The social isolation bruised our psyches. “Choosing our bubble” of people created “us” and “them” dynamics that politics and social media made worse. For many, the pandemic’s hypervigilance, anxiety, and stress created lasting mental health challenges.

For others, the resentment of mandates and loss of personal freedoms created another kind of fear and anxiety.

Take the increase in anxiety, stress, and depression, mix in the loss of human relationships, and you get more workplace conflict. And it’s more intense.

The Escape Hatch…

workplace conflictYou know what’s also interesting?

Of the 30% who reported less conflict, nearly half of those say it’s because they (or the people they were in conflict with) changed jobs, or they’re working remotely.

That’s not necessarily a sign we’re getting better at conflict, just escaping it—and potentially losing out on the innovation and problem-solving that comes from learning to do conflict well.

What advice would you give yourself if faced with this situation again?

Imagine the last time you found yourself navigating destructive workplace conflict. What advice would you give your former self if you faced this workplace conflict again?

The most common theme in our research?

Stay Calm. 55% of participants advised: “Be patient/stay calm.” Closely followed by advice related to speaking up, talking about it, and addressing the problem head-on.

“Be the bigger person. Talk about it.” — Nonbinary, 37, South Africa

Advice for conflict

“Stay calm.” — Female, 23, Vietnam

The good news is these skills can be taught, nurtured, and celebrated in organizations. No matter what kind of workplace conflict you face, four dimensions make it more productive and less destructive: Connection, clarity, curiosity, and commitment.

constructive conflict

Learn More About our Workplace Conflict Research and Navigating Workplace Conflict

You can learn more about our World Workplace Conflict and Collaboration Research by downloading our FREE summary here.

Powerful Phrases For Dealing With Workplace Conflict

You can’t avoid conflict.

When there are problems to solve and people who care (and there are so many things to care about), you’ll face conflict. And if you want to have more success, influence, and joy in your work, you’ve got to navigate it well. But conflict is hard. You weren’t born knowing the perfect words to say when you’re angry, dealing with a jerk, or when someone calls your game-changing idea “stupid.”

You probably didn’t learn practical, productive approaches to conflict in school. And, if you’re like most of us, you grew up watching role models sometimes really screw it up. You’ve had some conflicts that did not go well for you, and you don’t like how that feels. We hate that feeling, too.

That’s the reason for Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict: What to Say Next to Destress the Workday, Build Collaboration, and Calm Difficult Customers. To give you practical communication techniques to successfully navigate conflict at work.

You’ll get proven practical communication approaches for interpersonal challenges like dealing with a credit stealer, passive-aggressive co-worker, workplace gossip, or micro-managing boss, and dealing with more systemic workplace conflicts like working in a matrix organization or remote and hybrid team.

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today!

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today!


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Karin Hurt and David Dye

Karin Hurt and David Dye help human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results. As CEO and President of Let’s Grow Leaders, they are known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. Karin and David are the award-winning authors of five books including, Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. David Dye is a former executive and elected official. Karin and David are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

Be More Daring


Get the FREE Courageous Cultures E-Book to learn how

7 Practical Ways to be a Bit More Daring

Be More Daring


Get the FREE Courageous Cultures E-Book to learn how

7 Practical Ways to be a Bit More Daring

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