Conflict in the work place can get a bad wrap. It can be distracting, zap energy, and pull people off course. However not all conflict deserves to be tainted with the same brush.
Conflict engaged in respectfully and positively can be a catalyst for new ideas, opportunities for learning, and new ways of doing things.
Some might call this collaboration. I feel collaboration is what arises out of conflict. Something has to spark the discussion and conflict can be a good igniter.
The respectfully and positively piece is the challenge.
When we sense conflict in the workplace, most of us duck for cover, keen to avoid any trouble. There are those who bristle and tense up, priming for the action. We all know the type, they thrive on the drama rather than contributing to solutions.
Encouraging staff to show up in conflict with an attitude of respect and positivity means:
- allowing each party the space and time to speak their piece
- listening with an open mind and thoughtfully considering the information
- responding calmly and rationally, focusing on the issue at hand rather than any personal hang ups
If only. To approach conflict in this way takes practice. It takes conscious effort not to fall in to subconscious old habits. It’s effort that is worth investing though.
The new ideas, opportunities for learning, and improvement initiatives sparked from conflict can be business altering.
Conflict is not a dirty word. If handled positively and respectfully, it definitely has a place in the office.