handling conflict

By Christine Corelli

Get real! Life without conflict is a pipe dream. But when conflict occurs or exists in your contractor business, it must be resolved. If it is not, it can lead to negative and unproductive consequences—anxiety, anger, intimidation, blame, resentment, morale problems, even power plays that intensify problems that waste your time and drain your energy. Worse, a worker may take out their frustration on others or on their workmanship.

This is something no contractor can afford. Far too often, however, your work environment triggers it. If you have allowed any of these conditions to exist, or worse, you don’t know what’s going on in your company, and especially on a jobsite, you have big problems.

  • Too much competition and not collaboration
  • “Territorialism” or “Us vs. Them” mentality
  • Negativity and bad attitudes
  • Personality clashes
  • Favoritism
  • Micro-managing
  • Workers who slack off and get away with it
  • Workers who come in late habitually
  • Workers who take long smoke breaks and text breaks
  • Sexual harassment or inappropriate remarks about someone’s race or ethnicity
  • Lack of respect for others’ opinions, ideas, and feelings


Collaboration is, by far, the best method of handling conflict. Whether the conflict exists with you or an employee, between your project manager and superintendent, between two different teams, an employee who differs with you on how you run your business, or when there is simply a personality clash between two people, it’s important to resolve the problem.


It’s up to you, as an owner or manager, to promote teamwork and collaboration. Explain that when people are willing to collaborate to resolve conflict, a sense of trust, partnership, and coalition should come into play. People should generate potential solutions. Positions are not taken, but opinions are expressed. Collaboration should be an open forum for the exchange of feelings, ideas, and solutions to problems.


When you think of the word “conflict” you likely associate it with words like friction, disharmony, rivalry, disagreement, clash, dissonance, disunity, and yes … stress. “Not seeing eye-to-eye” might come to mind as well. But once resolved, conflict can even be healthy.

Conflict helps people find common ground. Although it is easy to get stuck arguing about who did what or why something won’t work, identifying and confronting these issues often focuses people on alternative and different ways to resolve a common problem and find a common, acceptable solution.

Conflict teaches people about their “conflict-resolution style” and what works and what doesn’t. Understanding your own conflict resolution style requires that you take a good hard look at yourself. How do you react to different points of view, or differences of opinion? Do you remain cool, calm, collected, and professional? Do you demonstrate respect for differences of opinion? Where do you need to improve? Your employees should respect how you handle conflict and respect should be one of the core values of your company.

Conflicts are an opportunity to learn about others. Conflicts arising from differing personalities can help you determine how to problem solve and manage employees in the future and can help people to learn how to get along with others.

Conflict creates an opportunity to be creative and can be a catalyst to help you to seek solutions that are outside of your comfort level. Constructively addressing conflict encourages yourself and others to bring new ideas to the table to help solve disputes.

Healthy conflicts often end with a win-win solution. When people feel free to honestly state their different opinion, and people can really hear respect the differences, they often find alternatives that work. Encourage people to be honest. “Be straight with each other.”

Conflict is an opportunity to open up communication on a difficult subject. Conflict and confrontation are natural and healthy components of any relationship. There is no right, wrong, good or bad in identifying or causing constructive conflict. Often the issue people think they are in conflict about is not the issue they really disagree.

Tactful confrontation strengthens relationships. Confronting conflict encourages openness and honesty.

Managing conflict by dealing with it is more efficient than letting conflicts fester. Getting right to the disputed issue at hand resolves issues quicker and emotional time dwelling on something is shortened.

Managing conflicts appropriately helps build independence. Learning how to appropriately deal with conflict relieves you from the issue, and helps you to focus on what is most important—your customers! Conflicts encourage people to grow. Conflicts are challenging and can lead to personal growth.

conflict sayings


We don’t live in a perfect world. There are no perfect people, perfect teams, or perfect companies. Conflict will always occur. It is simply a part of life, and most definitely—it comes with the territory in the contractor business. Learn to deal with it in a professional manner.

About the author

Christine Corelli is a conference speaker, workshop facilitator, and business columnist. She has worked with an abundance of construction contractor companies and been a featured speaker at industry associations. To contact her for an upcoming meeting, conference, or special event, call 847.477.7376. For more, visit www.christinespeaks.com.

Modern Contractor Solutions, October 2019
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