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Working within a team can be stressful when competition, conflicting personalities, and varying priorities contribute to team dynamics. According to a 2018 survey by the American Psychological Association, 64% of American adults suffer from work-related stress. With job pressure being a top cause of stress, it is easy for tension and conflict to arise between yourself and a colleague. These issues result in a strain that distracts you from focusing on your team and company goals. 

Let's review common problems that often occur within a team and some ways to combat conflict so you can focus on the bottom line.

Team Conflict

Workplace conflict between colleagues can be detrimental to the work environment. According to Deloitte, 52% of employees feel stressed because of conflict in the workplace. This data means that more than half of the workforce is distracted and inhibited from focusing on work due to workplace conflict. As the business landscape continually evolves towards more collaboration and open-concept workspaces, those not involved in a conflict are more aware of issues happening around them. In any work environment, you will encounter diverse personalities, introducing different viewpoints that may be contrary. Although personality diversity is essential, it can lead to misunderstandings between team members that cause you stress and conflict. When you encounter these team dynamics, it helps to know that personality differences are natural and focus on productive ways to work past them and resolve team conflict.


Poor communication is commonplace at work. According to The Economist, 52% of individuals think that the most significant consequence of poor communication is an increase in stress. Different work and communication styles can inhibit performance when messages are misinterpreted. If employees working together don't align on strategy, they will find themselves clashing on opinion, and possibly personality. It's important to use techniques to ensure you and your team members are operating under the same guidelines and priorities. One way to do this is to meet and align goals before a project, or on general day-to-day tasks. Having priorities written down will be a beneficial solution to look back on if things get off track down the road. 

Lack of clarity

The Economist shows that 34% of individuals received unclear instructions from a colleague or manager, resulting in 44% of 

team members unable to complete projects or tasks. To ensure you have the clarity to stay productive, it helps to know how your ideal work environment looks. What do you need from your manager that will better help you reduce your stress? What are your preferences for assertiveness, structure, or social interaction? When possible, make preferences visible to those around you. Though ideal doesn't often intersect with reality, awareness of style can help find solutions when there are differences in the group.


The American Institute of Stress reports that 46% of individuals feel stress due to workload. It's possible you experienced a colleague not carrying their weight on the team. This perception, too, can be misunderstood differences in work style. You may think your colleague is unproductive when in reality they work differently than you and offer different value. For example, you might excel at producing visible and quick deliverables every day. Your colleague may have a mind that needs more space to think. They might excel more at long-term planning, abstraction, or strategic tasks that don't have immediate tangible results but greatly help the team succeed. 

Take the time to understand the benefits of different work styles to help curb miscommunication and resentment. When you know how you prefer to work and understand your strengths, you can look for ways to magnify the areas where you excel. Both collaborators and individual contributors alike can produce significant results that benefit the team. Taking the time to understand these types of personality differences helps remove the toxicity of misperceptions on the team.

Personality clashing

In the western hemisphere, in particular, employees are most likely to see personality clashes as a source of workplace conflict. Wouldn't it be great if you could know in advance what potential issues you may encounter in the workplace? Personality assessments, like The Birkman Method, can help you identify your preferences when working with others, as well as provide solutions for the issues that may arise.

Maximize Your Performance with Our Four-Step Solution

No matter which of these conflict categories are the cause of your stress, the steps below are the key to positive workplace relationships. 

  • Self-awareness. Identify your stress triggers. Become aware of what causes you stress, and learn the signs of unproductive behavior to self manage and improve future outcomes. You'll learn what activities and situations drain you and energize you, and how they lead to productive or unproductive behaviors. 
  • Others awareness. Understand that other individuals have different stress triggers. Diversity in personality can cause clashing if you do not understand, accept, and learn how to work with one another. When you are more aware that different mindsets exist, you'll see other viewpoints to maintain positive relationships with your coworkers. While you may be different, and at times oppositional, each of your viewpoints are valid and beneficial in different ways.
  • Open conversation. Be honest about your stress by having open conversations. High-performing teams need psychological safety to innovate and thrive. According to Harvard Business Review, this environment helps us become more open-minded, resilient, motivated, and persistent to cultivate a healthier work environment. A safe place to explore opinions and preferences will allow each person to open up more, resulting in more well-rounded problem-solving and productivity while reducing misperception.
  • Create an action plan. Create a safe language between you and your team to combat different communication styles. The Economist reports that 42% of individuals believed that different communication styles were the most frequently cited cause of miscommunication.


How Birkman Can Help Manage Conflict and Stress

The following are three examples of personalized Birkman reports that help you manage your workplace stress: Relational Disrupters Report, Coaching Page, and Stress Management Report. We've provided quick summaries of each, so you can understand what is most beneficial to meet your needs:

1. Relational Disrupters: This report helps you identify areas of potential interpersonal conflict, provides insights into how others may perceive you, and tailored strategies for conflict management

2. Coaching Page: This report helps clarify how you handle task-related assignments, work with others, and provides insight into what you need from your work environment

3. Stress Management: This report helps you identify your stress triggers, offers strategies to manage stress, and helps build stress resilience.

Between you and your high-performing team, you can create a safe language to better manage the inevitable stress that shows up where teamwork is involved. The Birkman Method provides the framework to have constructive conversations that resonate and reduce disruptive outcomes. It's crucial to know what you need and communicate this effectively with your team to increase productivity and reduce stress. One of our experts will be happy to speak to you so you can learn more about how Birkman can help you manage your workplace challenges. Let's connect.  

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