Why Conflict is Your Friend – or How To Stop Hating Your Team.
Do you ever find yourself incredibly annoyed or at least irritated by the characteristics of your colleagues?
You know those things that start off as little things but because no-one talks about them, they grow in importance until someone somewhere starts shouting and blaming and losing the plot.
You see – we are not very good at conflict.
No-one teaches us how to handle this stuff. Most people see, ‘I don’t agree’ or ‘I think there is a different way of doing that’, as rude or aggressive or unkind. And it feels very uncomfortable.
Agreeing is much easier. So that’s what most people do – even if they don’t agree. And then they sort of expect the other person to know – by osmosis, or by their passive/aggressive response – that they are unhappy.
And further to that they expect the other person to magically change their mind and not disagree with them anymore.
Rather than understanding that people just ARE different and they, therefore, THINK differently about things, we would rather everyone agreed with us. It’s so much easier.
Well, here’s the thing. It might be easier, but it is no-where near as productive. Yes – you heard me right.
Conflict is productive.
Well, let me qualify that. Conflict is productive when people are supported and encouraged and trained to handle conflict. And with the right training and support, conflict can become an essential part of the team dynamic.
There are so many benefits to “conflict”.
When you have to justify your thought process or decision because others see it differently, it makes you think through your own argument. Which, in turn, helps you decide if it IS such a good idea after all.
Conflict is the birthplace of most creativity. When faced with conflict – people get very ingenious! Think of the Trojan Horse!
Disagreements are an inevitable, normal, and healthy part of relating to other people. And when worked through – lead to better relationships and stronger teams. When you argue with your mother you don’t stop loving her. You argue because it is safe to do so.
As a leader if you can switch this round – make the team safe and secure enough to bring up their ‘conflicts’ then the relationships will grow stronger.
Job satisfaction is higher when people don’t need to fear conflict. When conflict leads to a win-win. And it enables better diversity in the workplace. When diversity is celebrated then people can work in their zone of genius, it benefits all – especially the leader who can also concentrate efforts into his or her own zone of genius.
How To Encourage Conflict
If you are a conflict-averse person – here are some steps to help you encourage conflict in your team.
- Let go of the need to be liked by everybody. Being liked is nice, but being respected and respecting others is more important. Respect other points of view openly, and equally, show that you expect them to respect yours.
- Take the focus off you and onto the business. How will this conflict, this discussion, this disagreement help the business? And what is the best outcome for the business? This depersonalises the conflict and makes it easier for everyone.
- You don’t have to be a jerk or unkind when you disagree with someone. Teach your team how to empathise, and acknowledge the other argument/s, whilst putting forward (with evidence) why they hold the point of view they do. This is not about name-calling, it is about finding the best solution for all.
- Fake it till you make it. Conflict feels difficult for most people. Find someone it doesn’t phase and copy them until their confidence and ease with conflict becomes your own. Pretend you are cool with conflict and you soon will be.
If you need some help with conflict situations at work, or with training our team how to deal with conflict please reach out for a no-obligation chat, anytime firstname.lastname@example.org