75 Reasons for Conflict

There are many reasons for conflict within a team or between teams. One way to simplify the source of the conflict is to examine whether the conflict is task-based or if it stems from a relational issue. This separation is often helpful because, generally speaking, task-based conflict is productive while relationship-based conflict is destructive to the desired outcome. Often, though, conflict is complex and doesn’t have a single source that can be pinpointed and identified as one or the other. For that, this list of 75 reasons for conflict may help you find a resolution, or at least shed some light on the matter.

Task-Related Causes

    1. Competing goals
    2. Incompatible interests
    3. Differing principles
    4. Incongruent values
    5. Disagreement about strategy
    6. Disagreement about execution
    7. Diverse perspectives
    8. Lack of focus
    9. Unclear objectives
    10. Poor planning
    11. Missed deadlines

External Influences

    1. Struggle for resources
    2. Limited resources
    3. A failing project
    4. Win-lose scenarios
    5. Disgruntled customers
    6. Budget allocations
    7. Lack of information
    8. Interdependence
    9. Ineffective processes

Emotional Triggers

    1. Mixed feelings
    2. Expectations
    3. Prejudices
    4. Perception of injustice
    5. Jealousy
    6. Retaliation
    7. Anger
    8. Nonverbal signals triggering “fight or flight”
    9. Stress buildup
    10. Burnout
    11. Fear
    12. Power dynamics
    13. Harsh feedback
    14. Feeling unappreciated
    15. Lack of trust
    16. Distrust
    17. Dissatisfaction
    18. Feeling judged
    19. Being isolated

Behavioral Antecedents

  1. Miscommunication
  2. Risk-aversion
  3. Self-centered
  4. Sarcasm
  5. Competitive culture
  6. Competitive personality
  7. Demeaning language
  8. Patronizing language
  9. Condescending language
  10. Undermining expertise
  11. Arrogance
  12. Assumptions
  13. Complacency
  14. Hostility
  15. Passive-aggressive
  16. Avoiding
  17. Perfectionism
  18. Inconsiderate behavior
  19. Abusing authority
  20. Desire to be “right”
  21. Overdependence on others
  22. Blaming or pointing fingers
  23. Power struggles
  24. Interrupting
  25. Accusing
  26. Rudeness
  27. Unreliable
  28. Failing to share credit
  29. Micromanaging
  30. Incompetence
  31. Complaining
  32. Slow to adapt
  33. Not walking the talk
  34. Questioning others’ motives
  35. Assuming the worst of others
  36. Assuming best of self

Ask Yourself

  • Which of these get to you personally?
  • What irritates your teammates/coworkers?
  • Which causes of conflict are most common on your team?
  • Which of these are common among your friends/family?

Eva Rykrsmith

Eva Rykrsmith is an organizational psychology practitioner. Her passion lies in bringing a psychology perspective to the business world, with the mission of creating a high-performance environment. Follow her @EvaRykr.

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