Why conflict shouldn’t be a dirty word

Conflict has become a C word. More and more people have become increasingly uncomfortable with disagreement in the past few years. Personal stress levels have created unhealthy disagreement where things feel, and often become, personal. We are not doing conflict well.

I propose it’s how we do conflict that’s the issue. Not the conflict itself. 

Conflict is created when there are opposing perspectives or ideas. It’s based on differences. To have a workplace or relationships without conflict would therefore be near impossible. They would just be echo chambers. Where we all agree with each other, on the outside anyway. 

If our need to agree becomes the goal then we have a problem. We don’t expect or even aim for opposing ideas. This is when mistakes can happen and we just create the same old same old. 

These are not the workplaces that attract, or retain, clever thinkers and those who want things to be better, faster and more impressive. 

The thing is if we want to move things forward, create new products or services or even help people understand the impact they are having – then conflict is inevitable. 

Many of the cultures that have outstanding performance go in search of healthy conflict. They know without it, they will at best remain the same. At worst, lose their competitive edge and their awesome people.

We just need to create the conditions for conflict to be healthy. At a high level that’s two things:

            1.Understand how our relationship to conflict helps or hinders

            2.Understand what the conditions need to be to create healthy conflict at work

Returning to a new way of working, this is more important than ever before. Gathering again, including returning to work, is going to be complicated and potentially uncomfortable. As Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering, says:

‘We need to make the implicit explicit. Even if the elephant is just awkwardness, naming what’s happening and making it explicit allows everybody to take a breath’.

Do you want to know how to create healthy conflict in the workplace? Do you manage teams and/or lead people? GREAT! Come to our online event September 7th. Register here