Learn How to Accept and Navigate Conflict | Fierce

two employees seated at a table coming to an understanding of how to accept and navigate conflict

Year of Resilience Tip 7: Accept and Navigate Conflict


Avoiding conflict creates a build-up of stress. Learning how to manage conflict leads to a peaceful work life and the ability to deflect the effects of stress. The tip this week is to embrace interpersonal conflicts as a path to building resilience.

Because conflict is uncomfortable, most of us don’t have the tools to navigate the discomfort and challenge, we often avoid or hide from it. 

Conflict is normal.

See if you recognize yourself (or a co-worker) in these scenarios:

Rachel is a marketing manager at a large company. She has a colleague named Tom who often disagreed with her ideas and opinions. Instead of facing the conflict head-on, Rachel chose to avoid Tom and not engage in any discussions with him. This resulted in missed opportunities for collaboration and potential solutions to their disagreements. 

Sarah is a customer service representative who worked with a team of four. One of her team members, David, was known for being difficult to work with and causing conflicts within the team. Instead of confronting David, Sarah chose to hide from him and avoid any interactions. This resulted in increased stress and decreased morale for Sarah and the rest of the team. 

In both scenarios, avoiding or hiding from interpersonal conflict made the situation worse. Resulting in missed opportunities for growth and collaboration. 

Stats Around Workplace Conflict

Learning to accept and manage conflict places you and your organization at a competitive advantage in your industry and in your ability to retain and attract talent. Most organizations don’t handle conflict well. According to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 48% of HR professionals reported that workplace conflict has increased in the last five years.

Learning to manage conflict effectively will improve company profitability. The International Association of Conflict Management found that employees spend 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict. This equates to approximately $359 billion in paid hours per year in the U.S.

A study by the International Journal of Conflict Management found, organizations with high levels of conflict reported lower levels of job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and employee engagement compared to those with lower levels. It should be no surprise that employees who are unable to manage conflict are likely to experience high levels of stress and burnout and usually depart the organization.

Avoiding Conflict Stunts Resilience

It’s true that embracing conflict and learning how to manage it effectively can help build resilience. When you avoid confrontation, you miss out on an opportunity to practice important skills such as active listening, empathy, and assertiveness. By engaging in conflict in a healthy and productive way, you can improve your ability to handle difficult situations and manage stress more effectively.

When you avoid conflict, you miss out on the opportunity to learn how to handle challenging situations and negotiate effectively. These skills are essential for personal and professional growth. When conflict is not resolved, it can lead to increased stress and tension in the workplace, which can negatively impact your well-being 

Interpersonal conflict is the most common obstacle we face in the workplace. Developing the skills to manage conflict immediately improves your resilience and keeps conflict from skyrocketing your stress and anxiety.

Steps to Begin Effectively Managing Conflict

Managing interpersonal conflict in the workplace can be challenging, but it is essential for creating a positive and productive work environment. Here are some steps you can take to effectively manage interpersonal conflict at work:

1. Encourage open communication: Encourage all parties involved in the conflict to express their feelings and concerns openly and respectfully. It’s important to approach each conflict with an open mind and be willing to listen to the other person’s perspective. The Harvard Business Review found that organizations with high levels of psychological safety, where employees feel comfortable expressing their opinions and concerns, are less likely to experience workplace conflict.

2. Stay calm and neutral: Avoid getting emotionally involved in the conflict and try to remain neutral and objective. When managing conflict, it’s also important to be mindful of your own emotions and reactions. Practice deep breathing, take breaks when necessary, and try to approach the situation with a calm and level head. This will help you to stay focused on finding a resolution and prevent the situation from escalating.

3. Identify the root cause of the conflict: Understanding the underlying causes of the conflict can help you find a resolution that addresses everyone’s needs and concerns. By understanding the other person’s point of view, you can work together to find a mutually agreeable solution.

4. Brainstorm potential solutions: Work with the parties involved to generate a list of potential solutions and find one that everyone can agree on.

5. Set and follow through on agreed-upon actions: Once a solution has been reached, make sure that all parties understand their responsibilities and follow through with their agreed-upon actions.

6. Foster a positive work environment: Encourage a positive work environment by promoting open communication, providing conflict resolution training, and fostering a culture of respect and trust. A study by the International Journal of Conflict Management found that organizations with a positive organizational culture, where employees feel valued and respected, are less likely to experience high levels of workplace conflict.


Embracing interpersonal conflicts as a path to building resilience can be a valuable experience. By learning how to manage conflict in a healthy and productive way, you can improve your stress management skills and become more resilient in the face of challenges.

Because conversation is at the heart of conflict, Fierce embedded conflict resolution strategies in many of the programs we provide such as Fierce Team, Fierce Feedback, and Fierce Confront.

Having frameworks for conflict management and resolution strategies is a proven method for companies to reduce interpersonal conflict. By becoming adept at managing conflict, you will not only become more resilient, but increase the ability to solve problems, create innovation, and build a positive thriving work environment.

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