The Power of Conflict

The Power of Conflict

How many of you love Conflict??  Well, have you ever been on a team…where you were the only one who did love conflict? What was that experience like? I imagine not very satisfying.

And how about the rest of you who don’t love conflict? Perhaps you are like me and just keep muttering under your breath…can’t we all just get along?

I am here to tell you engaging in healthy conflict can be good for your team…it may actually be the best thing for your team…especially if you are not seeing the kind of results you have been expecting.

How we deal with conflict on our teams will absolutely have an impact on two very important areas:

  • How often new ideas are brought forward
  • How often new ideas are carried through to completion

So here are 4 tips today…yep getting crazy!  2 for those of you who love conflict and 2 for those of you who don’t.

For those of you who love conflict:
  1. Remember not everyone loves conflict like you do…it doesn’t always light them up, spur them on to greater things or push them to do more….in fact it can do the exact opposite and shut them down. Just being aware of the levels of comfort with conflict on your team can give you a huge advantage and allow you to adjust your approach.
  2. We don’t all have the luxury of re-living our days over and over again until we like the outcome like Bill Murray in the movie The Groundhog Day…but what you can do is take a step back and review the last few conflicts you were involved in and ask yourself
    • What worked well
    • What didn’t
    • Who was involved

Then like a teacher give yourself a grade and reflect on what you could have done better.

For those of you who do not love conflict:
  1. Practice! Identify the situations that cause those fight or flight hormones to flood your brain and prepare for them. Ask a trusted colleague to be the person you are likely to have a conflict with… give them the whole situation and ask them to be the worse they can be…trust me it gets easier and easier.
  2. Lean in to the conflict. Intentionally make the decision that you will slow yourself down, take a few deep breaths before you speak and really listen to what is going on. Too often when a conflict arises, we get overwhelmed with emotion, our hearts race, and hands get clammy. It is important to start to recognize that you have control over how you respond and remaining relaxed and focused will help you to help keep the situation calm.

Baruch Spinoza said, “No matter how thin you slice it…there will always be two sides”.  Don’t try to squelch conflict–dive into it–people want and need to feel heard.  They won’t buy in…until they have had a chance to weigh in.



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