How Does Poor Communication Cause Workplace Conflict?

Published on 16/10/2020

In any workplace up and down the country, conflicts between employees sometimes occur.   

This is normal when you have groups of people within a relatively small space for several hours a day. People clash over ideas, disagreements occur, misunderstandings, and all of this can drastically affect the way the office feels and morale within the workplace as a whole. Of course, morale has a very close link to productivity and when you realise that without productivity a company can’t make a good profit, you can see how important it is to try and sidestep conflict as much as possible. 

Without a doubt, one of the main reasons for office conflict is poor or unclear communication. 

Effective communication skills in the workplace are vital for the smooth running of any business. Not only does this help to ensure that conflicts are far less than they would otherwise be, but it also goes a long way to towards keeping customers happy too. You can also throw collaboration into the argument; creating and brainstorming new ideas around the modern boardroom tables is a firm staple for most businesses nowadays and when you have poor communication, all of this is affected in a very detrimental way. 

Going back to the morale side of things for a second, check out this infographic. It highlights very clearly why employee engagement is drastically affected by poor communication within a business and from there you can easily see how morale would fall and the potential for conflict is higher. 

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There are different communication styles in the workplace at play in every single contemporary office environment. There are also different personalities too, so ensuring that everyone gets along well all the time can be very difficult. When communication isn’t clear, i.e. it’s easy to take something a person has said the wrong way, misunderstandings are prevalent. This can make employees frustrated because they’re confused at the meaning of a statement, or it can cause someone to “get the wrong end of the stick”. When this happens, employees can argue or simply clash because of something which was never intended to be contentious in the first place. 

The ironic thing is that poor communication can be remedied so easily. It can be as easy as everyone taking the time to be a little more thoughtful before speaking, to understand how to listen properly and how to read body language, and not to jump to conclusions. Within a busy working environment this can be difficult all the time, but even a small improvement over time is better than nothing!

Conflicts within the workplace drag down morale to the point where cliques are formed. This isn’t a pleasant place to work. When that happens, mistakes occur, ideas aren’t easy to come by, creativity goes out of the window, customers are ultimately affected, and in the end, employees want to leave, therefore making it hard for businesses to retain their highly experienced members of staff.

With all of this in mind, it’s important that managers start to put together training packages for employees, highlighting communication improvement and also looking to build a stronger team spirit within the office too. This could perhaps be done by using team building exercises and social activities as a group. 

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