Conflict is a normal part of work and life but most of us seem unprepared to process it for positive outcomes. We have all met the person who expresses their conflict and anger openly, often leaving others running for cover avoiding the fall out of their anger. This reality causes most of us to try to avoid conflict at all costs. The only problem is you can’t.Conflict is a normal part of work and life but we are unprepared to process it and come to a positive outcome. Click To Tweet
The more dangerous result of unresolved conflict is trying to suppress it. The amount of energy it takes to bury the conflict is too high a price to pay for personal and organizational health. Unprocessed conflict often creates a passive aggressive culture where conflict is always brewing under the surface without any productive way to bring resolution.
Here are four ways to resolve conflict and create positive outcomes:
- Admit conflict will exist.
This seems like such a reasonable and logical step but is the one most often overlooked. Talk about conflict openly as normal and productive for the best outcomes. Make it okay for people to have disagreements and diversity of opinions. Learn the art and science of focusing conflict not on people but on outcomes, solutions, problems, and opportunities.
- Support healthy conversations that allow for diversity of perspectives.
Leaders hold the weight and responsibility to foster conversations, which support, encourage, and model a healthy dialogue of diverse views and ideas. A few ground rules: (a) never attack the person but it is okay to respectfully challenge their position; (b) be mindful of “tone” in conflict situations so try to keep the emotions out of the dialogue; and, (c) look for win/win scenarios where the customer served ultimately wins.
- Do not allow explosive behavior that harms others.
This is critical for having a healthy approach to conflict. Unhealthy behavior has to be addressed immediately and consistently, no matter where the unhealthy behavior is coming from, yes even from the CEO. A culture that allows explosive responses to conflict are guaranteed to drive underground an environment of healthy and constructive dialogue that allows for a diversity of opinion. Don’t allow it ever. The cost is too high.
- Have a plan in place when conflict becomes a barrier to healthy performance.
There will always be points of conflict that require intervention even in a healthy environment. Have a plan for it. A healthy mediator or counselor is good for the home, church, and workplace. It is good leadership to call for help when needed.
“A greedy person provokes conflict, but whoever trusts in the Lord will prosper.” Proverbs 28:25
What lessons have you learned from conflict being handled well?