How to Decide if a Conflict is Worth the Effort to Resolve

One of the common questions I get as I lead workshops and work with my coaching clients is:

How do I decide if a conflict is worth the effort to resolve?

I think this is a great question. Honestly, resolving a conflict can take lots of emotional energy. While I think it is generally a good idea to work with other people to productively resolve conflicts, I recognize that you do not need to invest this energy to resolve every conflict you might experience. Here are a few times when you might decide to avoid the conflict rather than work to resolve it.

  • When you do not care about the long-term health of your relationship with the other person.
  • When you have little concern about the outcome of the situation.
  • If you are concerned that the other person will resort to physical violence if you engage in a resolution conversation with them.

I’m still thinking through other situations when it might be reasonable to avoid the conflict rather than resolve it, and I think this represents a pretty good short-list of considerations when you make the decision.

As I said, in general I suggest that conflict resolution is worth the effort even though some situations might lead you in a different direction.

I would love to see your thoughts on this topic in the comments section.


  1. says

    Other situations where you walk away from a conflict and leave:

    1. If you are being verbally abused (yelling, insults) unrelated to work quality by another team member with power.
    2. If the project manager is incompetent and makes no effort to resolve conflicts among team members.
    3. If your expertise and responsibilities are technical but the project management is non-technical and makes bad decisions through lack of knowledge.
    4. If you have no avenue of communication with higher management.
    5. If you are in any situation where the power structure makes your success impossible.
    6. If the conflict cannot be resolved and your health and well-being are affected.

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