Many people struggle with conflict at work. Why is it that when we’re facing conflict at work, we think it’s happening to us and not for us? In this week’s post, we’re talking about how to make conflict work for you and not against you. Conflict ISN’T bad, it’s how we deal with it that makes it bad.
How to deal with conflict. The first step is realizing it’s not bad.
We need to change the way we look at conflict…How do we do this?
We use conflict as a basis for our overall strategy and take advantage of it tactfully. We are programmed to view conflict as something terrible; something to be avoided at all costs because it undermines productivity, trust, and engagement.
How does this show up?
You’ll see it or feel it when:
- It prevents people at the table from speaking up and sharing their views
- It creates reluctance at giving feedback to a colleague that would help improve something
- Strategic decisions that impact the entire business get deferred
When team members or partners aren’t getting along, they sink into negative emotions, which over time, radiate and increase in intensity. The longer the discomfort rises, the more likely these feelings set in for the long haul and make themselves at home. The work environment suddenly becomes toxic with resentment, frustration, guilt, and anger.
However, if you think about it, the way we approach conflict is entirely at odds with the way we want our organizations to function. In fact, conflict should be an integral part of strategic planning, product design, talent management, and resource allocation, not to mention the many other components that make an organization thrive.
Opposing views -albeit sometimes passionately opposing views – are necessary to work through challenges and resolve any number of issues that impact shareholders, employees, and
Differing views enrich the discussion, highlight unanswered questions and improve solutions. But instead, we perpetuate conflict and miss the opportunity to work through it to our advantage.
The number one way we do this? We are experts at practicing avoidance.
(1) We go out of our way to avoid an issue by deferring it to a later date. No one takes action, and the problem festers, unresolved.
(2) We go out of our way to avoid competing views when we exclude those who disagree with us. Newsflash – pretending the opposition isn’t there doesn’t make it disappear.
(3) Because we don’t know how to deal with conflict, we go out of our way to avoid confrontation with colleagues over sensitive subjects by closing ourselves off to discussion that generates dissenting views.
The result? Discussion is no longer open for debate, and the subject isn’t revisited. Avoidance takes up valuable space inside organizations and among colleagues, oppressing productivity, creativity, and efficiency. It frustrates and discourages effective communication, preventing progress and forward momentum.
When permitted to fester, conflict avoidance will drain your resources and fatigue you and your team.
One way to overcome conflict avoidance? Take a different view of conflict by inviting different points of view akin to a debate. Carve out time in meetings for colleagues to
share their questions and dissention. Allow for challenges constructively. Use opposing opinions as a way to bring colleagues together to discuss contentious issues. No one has ownership over wisdom in the room. After all, you’re all on the same team and working towards the same goals.
Have you struggled with knowing how to deal with conflict? Have you always looked at conflict negatively? I’d love to hear which tip has helped you the most.
Have you found this article helpful? Share it with a friend and comment below what other topics you would like me to address.
You might also enjoy reading 5 questions to ask when conflict enters the room.
Your Next Steps:
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Email Jackie: Helpdesk@jackiefcoaching.com