All businesses need conflict. I can already hear the gasp of disbelief from here! Conflict, I hear you cry?! Surely that is a BAD thing? People don’t thrive on conflict, do they? People get upset with conflict and there’ll be tears at bedtime if there is conflict. There’ll be pistols at dawn in the quad if we have conflict.
But. I don’t mean the destructive, throwing plates at each other kind of conflict. Not the kind of conflict that leaves open wounds, scabs and scars. That’s not the kind of conflict we want. No. We want healthy, vulnerability based conflict. ‘Eh what’, I hear you say? What is ‘vulnerability based’ conflict?
Vulnerability-based conflict is based on Trust. And we’ve already discussed how Trust is the foundation upon which all relationships MUST be based.
Without the ability to Trust, an individual is unwilling to speak up and give their opinions; and those opinions might give the business the vital idea which will support a breakthrough. Or it could easily be, that ideas which are put forward aren’t positively challenged to get the best outcome through iterative, positive and challenging discussion and ‘conflict’. That’s how the Emperor ended up with no clothes on, with everyone telling him his new suit was wonderful…. Because people were afraid to give their opinions and tell the truth. Vital information was withheld and it all went horribly wrong.
Options can’t be explored properly if people don’t Trust that they can fully play their part and be heard without rejection and humiliation. Humans naturally feel very vulnerable if they are rejected and seek to avoid it at all costs. They need to Trust that they can engage in healthy debate (positive conflict) without fear of retribution and rejection.
So. How does YOUR team or business approach positive debate? Do people engage truthfully and give their open and honest opinions or are there a lot of nodding dogs? Lots of ‘Yes’ people? Are you getting enough information and debate to enable the decisions to be made with the most optimal information to hand? Could your team or business achieve more if only people felt they could make their full, honest and open contributions to the business of ‘running the business’?
We’d love to hear from you. We’d love to hear your challenges and what approaches you may have tried, or be thinking of trying, to improve decision making and to bring the wisdom and creativity of all employees into the business of running your business. Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and share your stories with us. Go on. You know you want to.