The Hidden Costs of Conflict
in the Workplace

Here's a staggering statistic: between 30% and 40% of a typical manager's time is spent dealing with conflict in the workplace.

Here are some other costs of conflict:

  1. Wasted Time: Conflict distracts employees from productive use of their time.
  2. Bad Decisions: Decisions made during conflict are always inferior to decisions made cooperatively.
  3. Turnover: 50% of terminations are caused by conflict. Corporations estimate that replacing a trained worker costs 75-150% of the employee's annual salary. This includes lost productivity, recruiting, interviewing, HR salaries and retraining costs.
  4. Sabotage or Theft: Angry employees can mask sabotage as accidents or errors. Angry employees may choose to compensate themselves for emotional injury by stealing.
  5. Reduced Productivity: Employees may avoid trying to get along with a difficult person.
  6. Absenteeism can be caused by anger toward co-workers.
  7. Healthcare Costs attributable to illnesses brought on by the stress of working with difficult coworkers.


Conflict is usually the result of a failure to understand the values and motivation mindset of a boss or coworker. It's usually easier to blame the other person than to try to figure out what makes them tick and adjust your own language to align with and influence their behavior.

The secrets from How to Motivate Everyone suggest that you can:

1. Discover their values by asking: "What's important to you about this issue?" Is it important because of people, places, activities, knowledge or things?

2. Then figure out their motivation style. Is their style radically different from yours? Does it all boil down to a conflict between the:

a. Achiever-Problem Solver?
b. Leader-Follower?
c. Innovator-Processor?
d. Doer-Thinker?
e. Evolutionary-Revolutionary?

3. Then decide how to adjust your language to systematically align with their mindset and influence them to embrace yours.

Your flexibility is the key to defusing and resolving conflicts in the workplace. The goal is to downsize the conflict, get the job done, and develop better ways of working together in the future. And remember to have fun exploring the inner workings of your coworkers' minds.

Rights to reprint this article in company periodicals is freely given with the inclusion of the following tag line: "© 2008-2024 Jay Arthur, the KnowWare® Man, 888-468-1537, ."