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How to Recognize the 5 Conflict Levels in the Workplace

5 Levels of Conflict

Level 1: Problem


  • Language is generally open-hearted and constructive.
  • People uses facts to back up the argument.

Level 2: Disagreement


  • Language is self-protection.

Level 3: Contest


  • Language is distorted where presumptions are made and over generalisation.

Level 4: Crusade


  • The conflict becomes ideological and polarised.

Level 5: World War


  • Language is little or non-existent.

Response Options

  • Collaboration: Look for a win-win situation.
  • Consensus: Look for a solution everyone can agree on.

Response Options

  • Support: Empower team to resolve disagreement themselves.
  • Safety: Use collaboration games to reinforce team shared values.

Response Options

  • Accommodate: Yield to others viewpoint as the relationship more important than an issue.
  • Negotiate: If an issue is “Dividable” then negotiation can work.
  • Get Factual: Gather data on an issue to get facts.

Response Options

  • Diplomacy: Be a facilitator between two groups as all communication has broken down.
  • De-Escalate: Try to de-escalate the conflict to a lower level.

Response Options

  • Unresolvable: Sometimes when it gets to level 5 the conflict is unresolvable and you need to figure out  a way everyone can remain working without hurting each other.

> More Information on Conflict Levels in Agile Environment

This article is part of the our 100 Agile Tools & Techniques epic article based off the PMI list of recommended techniques and tools in their PMI-ACP certification syllabus.

Shane Drumm

Shane is an Agile Project Manager who specialises in digital web projects. He has worked with numerous distributed teams in Asia, Europe, US and Australia. In his spare time, enjoy travelling, cycling, digital start-up ventures and hustling to help other business owners with their digital presence. Find out more about Shane on and please reach out and connect with Shane on LinkedIn.


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