What Is Interpersonal Conflict at Work? - Definition, Types & Examples

What Is Interpersonal Conflict at Work? - Definition, Types & Examples
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley
Interpersonal conflict at work can interfere with business operations. In this lesson, you'll learn what interpersonal conflict is and the different types of interpersonal conflict. A short quiz follows.

What Is Interpersonal Conflict?

Interpersonal conflict occurs when a person or group of people frustrates or interferes with another person's efforts at achieving a goal. According to some researchers, conflict can consist of three different components.

The behavioral component of conflict involves someone interfering with the objectives of another person. For example, a co-worker and you may be competing in a sales contest, and he constantly bugs you during your sales calls to trip up your sales pitch. He also throws away message slips from your potential customers that the receptionist leaves when you're away from your desk.

The cognitive component involves a disagreement between the parties that illustrates the differences between the interests and objectives of the conflicting parties. For example, as the vice president of research and development, you may have a disagreement with the vice president of production over the allocation of company resources because you each have different goals and objectives that relate to your particular division.

The affective component relates to the negative emotional states of the conflicting parties. For example, conflict with a co-worker may make you feel anger, stressed, and frustrated.

Types of Interpersonal Conflict

Interpersonal conflict can be broken down into two broad categories.

Relationship conflict is conflict between two or more people arising out of personality clashes or emotionally-charged interactions. For example, let's say you are a consummate optimist and the person who shares your workspace is a hardcore pessimist and complainer. His negativity weighs you down, and your sunny disposition grates on him. You two can't stand to even talk to one another on some days. The severe differences in your personalities prevent you from working efficiently together, and this actually hinders your ability to accomplish work tasks.

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