Positive and Negative Conflict

Let’s listen as former OSU Engineering Career Services staff member, Rachel Ligman, speaks with Dr. Louise Douce, psychologist and Special Assistant to the Vice President of Student Life at OSU, on a definition of conflict, its causes, and the differences between positive and negative conflict in the workplace:

When you encounter “conflict” in the workplace (or in life), keep these tips in mind:

Conflict is positive when it:

  • Causes people to consider different ideas and alternatives
  • Results in increased participation and more commitment to the decisions and goals of the group
  • Results in issue clarification and/or reassessment
  • Helps build cohesiveness as people learn more about each other


Conflict is destructive when it:

  • Leads to bullying, harassment, or discrimination
  • Diverts energy from more important issues and tasks
  • Polarizes groups so that cooperation is reduced
  • Destroys the morale of people, or reinforces poor self-concepts

How do you react when an issue arises? On the next page, you will have a chance to reflect on where you stand with conflict.