The Unexpected Benefits of Conflict!
There’s almost nothing worse in work and leadership than conflict done poorly. Whether it’s in the workplace, in a relationship, or on a team, conflict is a deep concern for many people. I recently conducted a small survey of leaders to discover topics that might be important to them. 70% of the responses dealt with some element of conflict; handling conflict, resolving conflict, or even one direct and honest question, “How do I get rid of all this conflict?” Personally, I’m left with the question, “Does our fear of conflict keep us from seeing the potential benefits in it?”
It was mid-morning on a Monday when I heard the door at the front of the building fly open and slam back; followed by the sound of stomping feet coming in my direction. Suddenly the door to my office sprang open so hard that I am still amazed the glass in it didn’t break. My visitor stood pressed up against my desk, leaned across it, pointed a finger, and began to scream. She continued for at least 30 minutes; it felt much longer.
I had made a leadership decision she vehemently disagreed with; now that’s an understatement. I got defensive and screamed back. She eventually left. Our conflict was unresolved. We were dug into our positions. This is the situation that most of us fear when we think of conflict. And we should. This was not conflict done well. This was conflict done poorly, very poorly. It was harmful to individuals and to the organization as a whole. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Conflict is inevitable. How you engage in conflict is a choice.
Can you remember a time when you experienced conflict and how that conflict impacted you and your organization? What were the results of that conflict? Could you have done it better? Worse? Remember: how you engage in conflict will determine the outcomes; especially the positive outcomes. Conflict done well tends to have positive outcomes while, not surprisingly, conflict done poorly tends toward the negative.
“Conflict done well.” Sounds a bit like a fantasy, doesn’t it? We are not used to thinking of conflict in a positive way. We are more used to thinking of conflict done the way it was in the story above. When conflict is conducted with an attitude of mutual respect, honesty, and transparency, conflict can have some positive benefits. Conflict in and of itself is not bad. Conflict done well can often be good. Conflict done poorly is always bad and can be destructive.
Here are some of the unexpected benefits of conflict…done well:
- Conflict done well can heighten creativity.
- Conflict done well can push you to the unseen answer.
- Conflict done well forces you to understand your own argument better.
- Conflict done well done well can build credibility and respect.
- Conflict done well is energizing.
- Conflict done well increases new perspective.
- Conflict done well brings the actual issues into greater focus.
I’m sure there are many other benefits of doing conflict well. What have I missed? What are some other benefits? What benefits have you experienced from conflict done well?
Perhaps you are still stuck in the experience of conflict done poorly. Maybe you haven’t experienced conflict done well. In the midst of conflict, it is sometimes difficult to see clearly how your behavior is impacting your results and relationships. If you need a little help moving forward into a new way of understanding and being in conflict I can help; just schedule a free Discover Coaching session and let’s see how we can work together!
“Take your next right step,”