On the chess board each piece has a role to play and each piece plays that specific role.  There are even rules about what each piece can and can’t do.  It is similar in office conflict.  In the world of business, roles meet other roles. The fact that there are human beings filling each of these roles at that time is secondary. The conflict is almost always between the roles and the purpose that the role serves.  A credit controller in a bank has a role to minimise credit risk whereas a salesman in the same bank has a role to grow the lending book.  A quality controller in a factory has a role to ensure high quality output whereas the production manager has a role to produce as many items as possible.

The conflict between the roles is a healthy tension designed to keep the balance.  More often than not, conflict we experience at work with a colleague is actually conflict between their role and ours.  It is almost never personal. The next time you have a conflict with someone at work, ask yourself “was the conflict between me (the human) and them (the other human), or was the conflict between the roles we each fulfil?”  You can depersonalise a lot of conflict this way and get on with more productive tasks.

Remember…it is almost never personal. The conflict is between your role and their role.

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