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Diversity in the workplace can be exciting, but it can also make for opposing views and contrasting approaches. People within teams may disagree or simply not like one another.

If you’re not prepared to address conflict, then perhaps you’re not prepared for leadership. Managing conflict is inevitable for any leader. But if you’re the type of person who would like to avoid conflict at all costs, then take pre-emptive action so that conflict can be avoided.

To be a good leader, you shouldn’t just be prepared to resolve conflict when it arises but also have the ability to recognize the signs that lead up to it. Conflict can be avoidable when you don’t ignore the cues and take steps to prevent it from happening.

How good are you at detecting trouble in the workplace? Do you know what to look for? Here are three methods that will help you fine-tune your radar for conflict so that you can nip it in the bud before it escalates:

Pay Attention

Sometimes you just have to go with your gut. Take a look around or walk around the office. One of the first indicators that trouble is brewing is a change in atmosphere. Do you sense that there’s something different? Does something about the way people typically engage with one another seem off? Your instinct plays a critical role in spotting trouble that ultimately leads to conflict. And if you are aware of your surroundings and stay alert, then you will instantly sense when something doesn’t quite feel right.

Consistent Communication

Make yourself visible to your team. By talking and listening to your people regularly, they will know that they can come to you in times of trouble. Be approachable and casual. Don’t breathe down people’s necks or allow them to think that you are investigating. Build their trust by showing genuine interest in their activities; ask if there are any roadblocks that they need help with.

When your people become accustomed to your presence and no longer feel fear or reluctance to approach you, they will naturally come to you during troublesome times.


Don’t take things at face value. Conflicts come in different levels – ranging from disagreements to verbal harassment to full-blown physical violence. And they often occur due to a difference in opinion, personality, values, or management style.

When you dig deeper and get to the root of potential conflict, you can adjust your approach so that neither party involved will feel attacked. There are always stories behind people’s behavior and decisions. Recognizing trigger points is crucial to avoiding conflict and can only be unraveled by looking beyond what’s on the surface.

In my over 20 years of organizational experience in areas of corporate development, I have served a broad spectrum of business clients to help them build on their strengths and attain the personal growth they are committed to achieving. If you want to develop your skills as a leader by creatively resolving conflict and engaging your people in purposeful conversations, I think we should connect:

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Inscape Consulting Group
Greg Nichvalodoff, BSc. BM (Honors), MBA, PCC, CMC
Office: 604.943.0800
Mobile: 604.831.4734