Is conflict always a matter of right vs. wrong?

Connect with us: find us on facebook Like Resolving Workplace Conflict on Facebook


The Leadership Solution by

 Resolving Workplace Conflict

In the book, What to Do When Conflict Happens, we address some powerful misconceptions about conflict like:

Is conflict always a matter of right vs. wrong?

When you think about interpersonal conflict between two people, what comes to mind? What can you conclude from your own experiences of friction with a coworker? Do you presume that there’s always an “instigator” who is in the wrong and a “victim” who has done nothing wrong – and therefore is right? Do you blame the “instigator” for the conflict and believe that he or she, alone, bears the responsibility for making a behavior change? If you answered yes to either (or both) of those last two questions, you might want to do some rethinking.

While it’s true that some conflicts are clearly issues of right vs. wrong, it’s not always the case. And assuming otherwise is a dangerous and counterproductive mindset to have. Why? Because, often, “right” and “wrong” are relative terms; they’re perceptual issues. And with few exceptions, people tend to believe that they are right most of the time. It’s usually “the other guy” who’s at fault. After all, “I’ve done nothing wrong, so there’s nothing I need to do about this. It’s all him…it’s all her!”

The problem is that “him” or “her” is thinking the exact same thing! As a result, neither party makes an effort to address and resolve their differences. And in the end, BOTH parties end up being at fault.

So, clearly, conflicts are not always a matter of right vs. wrong. Many times, they are about two competing wrongs…or even two competing rights. Either way, it takes two to tangle!

We want to hear from you! Does this post remind you of a time YOU were in a situation of “competing wrongs” or “competing rights”? How did you get through it?


What to Do When Conflict Happens

Today’s Leadership Solution comes from: What to Do When Conflict Happens : Every Employee’s Guide to Resolving Workplace Problems