Recognizing Signs of Brewing Conflict

Most people send powerful indicators that something is bothering them before an actual conflict or challenging situation arises.

Powerful “conflict-competent” managers recognize these signs and address them before they boil over. Take a moment to review the list below, checking off indicators you have noticed within your team or peer group.

  • Destructive body language:
    • Eye Rolling.
    • Audible sighing (to make a point).
    • Secret eye contact between individuals.
    • Dismissive body language (looking at the phone and avoiding eye contact).
  • Sarcastic remarks.
  • Silence from otherwise-vocal individuals.
  • Open disagreements and overly negative attitudes.
  • Intense self-justification.
  • Possessiveness (withholding bad news or needed information).
  • Using email to build a case or “throwing someone under the bus” (using inappropriate or unprofessional CCing, BCCing).
  • Passive-aggressive behaviors that are destructive and hard to pin-point.
  • Empty apologies for negative behavior (with no attempt to change).

Which indicators do you tend to ignore or brush off? Which surprise you? Which do you actively (or inadvertently) condone among your team or peer group?

These negative behaviors are signs of underlying conflict, which must be addressed—and curtailed promptly.

People send nonverbal signals and engage in passive-aggressive behaviors because they don’t have the tools to address the issue. Your job as manager is to set an unwavering standard for positive communication and foster environments free of destructive behavior.

Consider one action step you can take to address future conflict indicators among your team or peer group.