Whitepaper: Managing Workplace Conflict

The Role of SOCIAL STYLE Training in Managing Workplace Conflict


Conflict is an inevitable reality of interacting with others. Different perceptions, priorities and personalities cause people to disagree, sometimes with disastrous results. The award-winning “Managers as Negotiators” study revealed that managers spend up to 42% of their work time resolving conflict. But conflict does not always have to be a negative experience, and understanding others’ interpersonal differences can help individuals have more satisfying interactions and help organizations increase productivity and retention.

Managing Conflict

TRACOM’s own Dr. Casey Mulqueen has discussed anticipating conflict is not “looking for a fight”, but rather understanding common situations that can lead to trouble such as deadlines, competing priorities, budgets, etc.  He also says that different behavioral preferences can turn even minor workplace disagreements into major problems.  Fortunately a skilled manager can anticipate such scenarios and often take steps to diffuse the situation using several easy-to-apply steps.

You can avoid most conflicts in the workplace before they occur, if you follow these steps:

  1. Set Goals
  2. Diagnose Development Level
  3. Match with the Appropriate Leadership Strategy and Deliver

To learn more about these steps and how to apply them, you can read SOCIAL STYLE & Situational Leadership II.

Learning Different Styles

While conflicts occur for a variety of external reasons, this survey and other research demonstrate that the majority of conflicts arise from internal sources: Style differences. The four different Styles — Analytical Style, Driving Style, Amiable Style, and Expressive Style — all react to conflict differently and it’s important to predetermine others’ Styles to get ahead of any conflict arising.

Conflict hurts productivity at all levels. The “Managing Conflict in Work Teams” article says, “The consequences of poorly handled team conflict are a lowering of team energy, disruption of healthy relationships, and the prevention of job accomplishment.”


The good news is that understanding behavior differences can dramatically improve workplace conflict. “Research indicates that high performing teams are capable of mediating their own conflicts while improving productivity and strengthening relationships,” according to the article. Employees who apply their SOCIAL STYLE training are confident in their ability to deal with conflict, can avoid or lessen conflict, and are able to move beyond conflict once it has occurred. Being able to adapt one’s behavior when dealing with others has proven to be a marker of success.

Another TRACOM study showed that managers with a higher degree of SOCIAL STYLE skills are better at leading teams and coaching others and are more likely to be promoted. When people use their knowledge of SOCIAL STYLE in the workplace, improved productivity and more satisfying personal interactions result.