15 Jun The Value of Conflict
If conflict is such a good thing, why not get better at it?
When most people hear the word conflict, they immediately envision an argument. The topic can elicit many mental pictures: yelling, fighting, drama, time-wasting and the list goes on and on. But in the world of business, and really in any important or significant relationship, it’s important to realize that conflict, when done right, can be a truly wonderful thing. So next time you encounter the desire or need to speak your mind, remember a few important points:
#1 In all relationships, business or professional, conflict is inevitable.
And as uncomfortable as it might make us, differing opinions can be extremely beneficial to the long-term success of any organization. Of course, it’s important to point out that there is a big difference between constructive conflict and destructive fighting or interpersonal politics – more on that below.
#2 Conflict could harm organizations with low levels of trust.
In a low-trust organization or among un-engaged/disengaged team members, conflict can be extremely detrimental to an already dysfunctional work environment. Rather than creating conversations that challenge one another for the betterment of all, this type of conflict often tears others down and brings down the organization as a whole.
#3 Conflict strengthens and improves organizations with high levels of trust.
On the other hand, in a high-trust organization, the result of conflict is often creative, collaborative, outside-the-box thinking. Constructive conflict can lead a team to craft innovative solutions that reach beyond anything these individuals could’ve come up with on their own. In fact, when done right, conflict can actually save time, energize teams, bring clarity and strengthen relationships.
#4 Leaders must set expectations for conflict and lead by example.
As a leader, it’s important to create an environment where open, respectful dialogue is encouraged. You can inspire positive change by listening to the opinions and viewpoints of others, offering feedback and considering all sides. By challenging your team to dig deeper, ask tough questions, think outside-the-box and challenge the status quo you can ensure you are harnessing the unique perspective and tapping into the experience each individual brings to the table.
#5 Respect and constructive conflict go hand-in-hand.
Remember, it’s ok to disagree. In fact, I’d encourage you to share your opinion more often, but always keep it professional. Be respectful of others opinions and make a true effort to see things from their point of view. It is only by challenging each other to do more and be more, that we will all improve as a team and as an organization.
We’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you view conflict as a bad thing? What stops you from sharing conflicting opinions? How do you think you could “do conflict” better?