Consider Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto from the X-Men films. Acquaintances turned friends turned enemies, the two had quite a volatile and eccentric relationship.

Riddled with interpersonal conflict and a battle of wits, both Professor X and Magneto have tried to one up each other countless times. But there have been choice moments where we see them unifying against common enemies or helping each other through difficult times.

Their relationship is an ideal example of interpersonal conflicts. Interpersonal conflict arises due to factors like personality clashes but finds its resolution in common goals.

  1. What Are Interpersonal Conflicts?

  2. Types Of Interpersonal Conflicts

What Are Interpersonal Conflicts?

The meaning of interpersonal conflicts is conflicts between two or more people in any setting; it may be at work or among friends. These types of conflicts are quite common but what’s more common is how often we leave them unresolved.

If you’ve ever had an argument with a coworker or locked horns with someone outside of work, you’re probably aware of how this goes. We end up ignoring the person for as long as we can, which ultimately turns to hostility.

In the workplace, interpersonal conflicts are often seen as problematic—something that needs to be pushed under the rug. But because conflict is inevitable, it’s all the more important to deal with it immediately.

Let’s explore how resolving interpersonal conflict can help you at work:

  • You’ll find it easier to communicate with the person after resolving the conflict

  • It’ll lead to improved work performance because you feel secure about your role and responsibilities

  • It can help you achieve better results collaboratively, working with your team members without any hostility

  • It builds a positive work environment where you’ll feel appreciated, heard and valued

  • It leads to growth as you identify ways to deal with people and solve problems

You’ll find different types of interpersonal conflicts that are a result of internal or external factors.

Types Of Interpersonal Conflicts

Whether you have different interests or goals, anything can cause interpersonal conflicts. What’s important is to recognize conflict for what it is and get to the bottom of it.

Here are some causes and examples of interpersonal conflicts in the workplace:

  1. Personality Clashes

This is an internal factor that can cause conflict between people. Personality clashes mean that two people who are fundamentally different find it hard to agree on something. If you see or perceive things differently, you may struggle if you’re paired with someone who’s the opposite. For instance, say one of your coworkers wants to go over your manager’s head in a bid to win brownie points with your director. If this doesn’t sit well with you, you’ll find yourself in a conflict with your coworker.

  1. Lack Of Trust

When there’s a lack of trust between coworkers, it can lead to conflict. Interdependence is one of the pillars of teamwork and it impacts how well you get along with each other. No task is independent so you need to build trust in teams if you want to manage conflict. It’s better to focus on collective goals than isolating personal objectives.

  1. Ineffective Communication

Say you wrote an email about a new work schedule to your coworker and they missed it the first time. You followed-up the next day and you still didn’t get a response. Poor communication such as this can lead to frustration at work. Not only will you inevitably face conflict but it’ll also affect your professional relationships.

  1. Different Interests

Different interests can lead to interpersonal conflicts especially when it’s at the cost of compromising someone else’s interests. In an organization, interests need to match for the successful implementation of solutions. If your interest works against your coworker’s, it’s difficult to find a middle ground.

  1. Incompatible Goals

Personal goals should be aligned with organizational goals to avoid conflict. Incompatible goals are an extension of different interests. If you and your coworker have the same goals in mind, you’ll be more willing to work together to achieve better results. However, if your idea of success is something else, it’ll likely end in conflict.

Most interpersonal conflicts can be resolved with conversation and negotiations. If you can learn to negotiate with your coworkers and people outside of work, you’ll be far more equipped to resolve problems.

Harappa’s Negotiating Wisely course teaches you how to arrive at win-win outcomes for successful negotiations. The best way to resolve interpersonal conflicts is to approach them from different directions and understand multiple perspectives. You’ll learn about the Negotiation Canvas for successful conversations. Learn from powerful frameworks and industry leaders!


Explore topics such as the Importance of Managing ConflictTypes of Conflict, The Thomas-Kilmann Model & Functional and Dysfunctional Conflict from Harappa Diaries and build an approachable organizational culture.

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