The idea of conflict scares so many people. It’s a word rarely attributed to positive moments or situations; on the contrary, the mere mention of it can immediately catapult someone into a negative situation. Unresolved conflict is linked to performance problems in the workplace. Joseph Grenny says, “95% of a company’s workforce struggles to confront their colleagues and managers about their concerns and frustrations. As a result, they engage in resource-sapping avoidance tactics including ruminating excessively about crucial issues, complaining to others, getting angry, doing extra or unnecessary work, and avoiding the other person altogether.”   Take a second to think about how your fear of conflict could be holding your department back.

What if…

We slowly started to shift our view of conflict to a more positive perspective?  Do you think that could make a difference in how we approach and handle conflict in our organization?

Ask yourself these two questions about conflict:

  1. Why do you fear conflict?
  2. In a perfect world, how would you like to see conflict resolved in a work environment?

Once you examine your own perception of conflict, you can begin to approach it from a different place. For example, if you hate conflict because you associate it with yelling, aggression, and not finding an outcome to a situation, take a moment to come up with a plan for how to approach that situation. There are many possible approaches when it comes to conflict. In trying to decide on one, the most important thing is to know what you are comfortable with. For example, if yelling makes you uncomfortable (like it does for me), confronting someone who is yelling isn’t going to be your best approach. But what would be the best approach for you to take? I would recommend that you not respond to a person who is yelling; don’t give them a space to continue with their negative response. You could say something like, “I’m not comfortable with the current situation; I’ll connect with you once we’ve had some time to think this through.”  You do two things in this moment:

  1. You let the person know you won’t tolerate that type of behavior.
  2. You take a break so that you can think through the given situation and return to the conversation with a dialogue that will allow for growth to happen.conflict

There are many different approaches to how you might handle conflict, depending on the type of resolution style you feel most comfortable bringing to the table. However, before you can review those approaches, you must look inward and ask yourself why you fear conflict to begin with. I challenge you to allow ‘conflict’ to be a word that invites you to think of change, growth, and innovation.

Comment below with what comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘conflict.’ 

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