Use Conflict Or Be Used By It

by Jay Deragon on 07/31/2012

Many organizations avoid conflict because of emotional fear of confrontation. Avoiding conflict is simply a passive way of not managing people and processes effectively. People who need to be confronted use the avodiance of conflict to gain more power and influence within an organization and they do it by circumventing the issues which need confrontation.

Conflict, while often avoided, is not necessarily bad. In fact, conflict can be good for organizations because it encourages open-mindedness and helps avoid the tendency toward accepting everything that management says as fact.

Research demonstrates that  organizations with constructive conflicts are more creative, productive and innovative—qualities every organization needs in today’s competitive  environment. Harvard researchers, for example, found that executives who engaged in productive disputes generated more innovation and productivity than those with low levels of conflict.

Conflict Creates Positive Outcomes

In business, conflict that is avoided eats away at the connections that enable businesses to prosper.

Conflict is a natural part of relationships and human communication and shouldn’t be viewed as inherently negative or unhealthy.  What matters is how one manages conflict with others.

Conflict is a natural process of communication and facilitates the sharing of divergent viewpoints.  The process of gaining multiple perspectives on any issue is critical to identifying problems, designing improvements, and producing optimal solutions.  Ironically, conflict is a natural part of cooperation as teams will always have to manage conflict to get the best results.  Without conflict, you have groupthink, you discourage innovation, and you discourage learning, none of which are ideal for a productive work environment.

Leaders see conflict as a healthy, natural, and even necessary process to evolve, improve, and achieve.  Although conflict itself should be viewed as a healthy part of improvement, growth, and team development, peoples’ personalities and conflict management skills are typically the differentiating factor between positive and negative experiences with conflict. There are five good things about conflict:

  1. Conflict Encourages New Thinking
  2. Conflict Raises Questions
  3. Conflict Builds Relationships
  4. Conflict Opens Minds
  5. Conflicts Beats Stagnation

Organizations that avoid conflict avoid change. Avoiding change is futile and can lead to the demise of even successful organizations. Companies that encourage staff to approach conflict in positive and productive ways, can beat the stagnation that opens the doors to competitors and challenges the ability to continue to provide customers with new and innovation solutions to meet their needs.

In today’s fast paced business environment unless you internally embrace conflict you’ll likely be surprised when you find yourself externally in the middle of it with no plan to get out of it. Sometimes conflict can be painful to those who get used by it and valuable to those who use it effectively. 

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