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How to Deal With Personality Clashes at Work

Considering how many hours we spend daily with work colleagues, butting heads with them can happen more often than wanted. Clashes at the workplace can have a big impact on our personal lives. Find out how you can deal with a personality clash at work.

What Causes Personality Clashes?

A personality clash occurs when two or more colleagues have incompatible personalities, backgrounds, or outlooks. Personality clashes can impact productivity and cause absenteeism and presenteeism. The clash can cause disagreements and mistrust among each others.

Examples of Employee Personality Clashes

A clash can occur when employees don’t understand or accept differences in each other’s personalities. An employee may think their colleague is rude because they have straightforward personality traits and tend to say whatever is on their mind.

Employees’ upbringing has a big impact on their personalities. When two people have different cultural backgrounds or values, they can clash.

Colleagues can have conflicting approaches to the way they work. Conflict can arise when both parties think their way is right and refuse to see other perspectives.

What to do About a Work Personality Clash (as a Staff Member)

It’s important to take action if you’re experiencing a personality clash with a colleague.

Speak to your Manager

If you are experiencing conflict with a colleague, approach your manager and talk through the situation. This may allow you to hear another point of view and gain insight into how to deal with it. Many people turn to trusted colleagues to complain, but this can worsen the situation.


Most conflicting situations at work and in personal lives stem from poor communication. Ask to speak to your colleague away from other people and talk openly and in a well-intended way. A discussion can help you understand their point of view and the reasons behind their actions. Bring suggestions to the meeting on how you can productively work together.

Look for the Positives

When you clash with someone's personality at work, it can feel energy consuming and unpleasant. But there are still positives to look for. It may sound a cliche, but learning from mistakes is powerful. Think about what you could have done differently to stop the situation from escalating so it doesn’t happen again. There are also benefits from reconciliation. Approaching difficult situations with a positive mindset can improve your work and life.  

What to do About a Work Personality Clash (as a Manager)

Managers can make a difference in how personality clashes play out between staff.

Encourage Staff to See You as Soon as Possible

When conflict is left unchecked, it can escalate to a point where the relationship is highly strained and the individuals can’t work together anymore. As a result, the whole team can suffer and feel uncomfortable. Aim for employees to see you as approachable, and encourage them to come at any time, with any problem. An open-door policy will help you sort out issues before they become a significant conflict.

Bring Two Parties Together

When you see a personality clash between two staff members, don’t ignore it and hope it goes away. The majority of the time, the problem gets worse, not better. If you believe it is beneficial, bring the two parties together for a discussion. Encourage active listening and being open to different perspectives. After the first meeting, check in with both parties individually to see how they feel. Be observant to check if things are going smoothly or if lingering tension remains.

Introduce Conflict Resolution Training

Conflict resolution is a learned skill. Offering all staff members training can help them learn about conflict, communication strategies, and negotiation and influencing skills.

How to Escalate the Issue

If the above methods haven’t worked, you may need to take the next step and involve a professional mediator. When it has become evident that communication between two colleagues has broken down, a neutral mediator can help re-establish the lines of communication.

Conflict in the workplace can have a huge impact on an individual’s mental and physical well-being. Colleagues and the organisation can also suffer. For more information or assistance to prevent tensions from escalating at work, managing conflicts when they arise, and conflict resolution methods in the workplace, enquire about our mediation services or call 1800 258 487.

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