Let’s face it. When you have people with different knowledge, background, experiences, and expertise, eventually, you will face some conflict. People are people. Each person has different ways of dealing with conflict. While some people steer clear of conflict because it makes them uncomfortable not all conflict is bad. There is healthy conflict and unhealthy conflict. We are going to focus on healthy conflict.
You are probably wondering how conflict can be healthy. Healthy conflict is productive conflict – it leads to an outcome where results are achieved. For conflict to be healthy, judgment needs to be dropped. You need to approach conflict with curiosity like someone learning something new for the first time. As you learn more about a person or situation, you can come from a place of empathy and gain a better understanding of why a person does what they do or see how a situation arrived at the point it is at now. Even if you do not agree with another person, you can understand why they believe what they believe. Sometimes team members or partners do not agree on the approach to getting action items done. However, if they believe in the vision of the organization or business, they will often commit to getting things done. Why is that?
Open Communication – When conflict occurs, it can open communication. Stone-walling and silent treatment are not productive. They do not put the issues on the table. When conflict arises, it needs to be tended to quickly allow all parties to have their voices heard. As each person voices their experience and opinion, you can learn what is important to them. Even though there may be a disagreement, keeping an open dialogue can lead to a resolution. The question to be discussed is, “What happened to get us here?” Focus on facts, not emotions.
Set Some Ground Rules to Keep Communication Going:
Stay calm – no yelling! No name calling or walking away from the discussion. Treat people with respect even when you do not agree with them. Everyone’s voice needs to be heard. No talking over one another or interrupting. Actively listen to what is being said and be able to reflect back what you heard or paraphrase your understanding of the situations. Challenge your assumptions and apologizes if you were wrong.
Discover Intentions – A natural first reaction to a situation that is not going in your favor is to think, “Why is this happening to me?” or “Why is this being done onto me?” These questions come up when a person jumps to conclusions or mistrusts another person. When you feel this way, it is beneficial to reflect and gain and understanding of what triggered you to believe something is happening “to you” versus “for you”. What is truly happening? What is being done to me? What was the other person’s intention? Do I have facts to support this intention? If you don’t, you could be fretting over nothing. Save your energy. Start with the belief that a person has good intentions. When you believe otherwise, your actions will match your beliefs.
Examine the Impact – What is the impact of the situation? What do I want to happen? Is there something I need to do differently to get different results?
- Is not judgemental; it comes from a place of curiosity
- Allows for open communication and exploration of ideas
- Understands that most people have good intention – to do no harm
- Keeps the desired outcome in mind
- Lets everyone’s voice be heard
- Involves taking actions steps toward collaboration and cooperation.
No one said that to gain commitment we must have a unanimous vote, you need to have the facts to make the best decision. What you do need to be able to do is to trust the person or the process. Explore the facts to gain a better understanding and ask questions to learn about the gaps. Healthy conflict leads to forward movement and progression. It helps us move through change.
For many, conflict is an uncomfortable conversation but when you come from a place of being a learner you will be fascinated with your discovery. You may learn to trust yourself and others to do what is right to achieve great things together. Together you are committing to each other and the results you will get.
Skirting an issue does not get your farther ahead. What conversation have you been avoiding? What facts are you missing? Have you been holding off on a decision because you do not have all the answers that you want? Conflict can be healthy, if you are not looking for excuses, blaming, or complaining. It comes down to owning and being accountable for your own thoughts, feelings, and actions. You can only do this by being able to deal with conflict in a healthy way.
DEBRA KASOWSKI, BScN CEC is an award-winning best-selling author, transformational speaker, blogger, and Certified Executive Coach. She has a heart of a teacher and is certified in Appreciative Inquiry and Emotional Intelligence. Her writing has been published in a variety of print and online magazines. Debra Kasowski International helps executives, entrepreneurs, and organizations boost their productivity, performance, and profits. It all starts with people and passion. Sign up the Success Secrets Newsletter and get your free mp3 download today! www.debrakasowski.com