Are Interpersonal Conflicts Affecting Your Project Management Decisions?

Are Interpersonal Conflicts Affecting Your Project Management Decisions?
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Sometimes when you’re working, you might feel that you’re not on your game and that it is wrongly affecting your ability to make clear, concise choices. This is common, as people are largely affected by their emotions. The best way to handle it is by learning some of the correlations between interpersonal conflicts and decision making, and assimilate some methods for helping to deal with it whenever it pops up.



When to recognize it as a problem: It’s natural for us to want to help out people we like, and this sense of loyalty can get us into hot water at times. For instance, you’re working in a group of four people. You get along well with two of the people, but the fourth person is a very close friend. Now, you might know that your friend isn’t always the best at coming up with sound ideas, but is generally really passionate about his ideas regardless. Without thinking, you might defend his ideas and concepts against the other two people in the group. This can lead to following a course of action that might not be the best choice for the project.

How to deal with it: When your friend comes up with an idea, imagine that someone else - anyone else - told you the idea. Would you defend it if you weren’t so close to that person? If the answer is no, you’ve got your answer. But how do you deal with it as a problem? See if there’s anything in your friend’s idea that you can compliment, and see if you can work it into the overall strategy.


Feeling Guilty

When to recognize it as a problem: So you’ve accidentially wronged one of your co-workers. Maybe you took credit for something they did, maybe you over-criticized one of their projects or just stuck your foot in your mouth another way. Now you’re finding that you’re going along with them no matter what to sooth your guilty conscience. This is likely to create a lot of problems if you’re not careful.

How to deal with it: If you haven’t already apologized to your coworker, make sure you take care of that. The power of “I’m Sorry” tends to work on both parties involved. If you still feel like you need to bend to their will, take the time to realize that you’re not doing either of you any favors by being a lackey.



When to recognize it as a problem: Confrontation is inevitable in the workplace; it doesn’t make you a bad person. Sure, the world would be better if people got along and everyone liked everyone else, but the world is full of colorful personalities that sometimes don’t mesh together. Maybe you don’t get along because you have different methods of doing things. Maybe you don’t get along because you feel like she gets privileges because she’s your boss’s daughter. Maybe you once had a blow-out argument and some residual grudges are being held. It becomes a problem when you find yourself rejecting the ideas, thoughts, opinions, and concerns of another person, just because you don’t get along with them. Much like infallible loyalty to a friend in the workplace, staunchly disliking someone is a quick way to get yourself in some hot water.

How to deal with it: When you find that your gut reaction is to reject something presented by someone you dislike, step back from the situation for a minute and try to figure out why. If you can’t pinpoint an exact reason, other than “Man, I really hate that girl,” you’ve found your problem. See if you can imagine hearing this idea from someone else - preferably someone you like better - and try to figure out if it’s really a bad idea or not. If you find that it still isn’t an idea you’re thrilled with, treat them with the same respect you would a friend and offer suggestions or the compromise of incoorporating it into your overall concept.



When to recognize it as a problem: Intimidation is one of the worst things to deal with, be it at the workplace or anywhere else. However, because jobs tend to be stressful as is, the fear of intimidation seems multiplied when we’re faced with it in the workplace, and is a key cause of interpersonal conflict that can negatively affect decision making. It becomes a problem when you find yourself hesitant to talk to a coworker or coworkers, when you find yourself bending to the will of others out of fear, and when you find yourself uncomfortable in any capacity!

How to deal with it: First and foremost, figure out why you feel so intimidated. Are you a naturally shy person who is easily overshadowed and intimidated by bolder personalities? If this is the case, then it is completely up to you to fix it! Take some steps to make yourself feel more comfortable around bolder people, such as sitting in on a debate or speech club if there is one in the area, or joining a club that can help you learn to be more outgoing. If you find that you are just indimidated by someone’s strong personality or, worse, potentially feel threatened by him, it would serve you well to talk to your boss about the problem. If there is a reason for worry, supressing it won’t do you any good!



Generational Differences, A Survey Report. Society for Human Resource Management, at

Also based on writer’s experiences in the field.

Image Credits:

Playing the Bad Boy by mouton.rebelle

Mr. Big Bad Boss by Philip Clifford

Guilty As Charged by David Goehring

Business People in Libson - Hard Times? by Right-eye