We have all experienced conflict in our professional as well as personal lives.
For the most part we do not enjoy conflict and often try to eliminate it from our experiences.
But conflict, if understood and managed properly can provide many great opportunities and benefits.
Let’s explore, why is conflict good?
Conflict Can Be Negative
“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.” – William James
There is no question about that. Conflict, if not understood properly and mismanaged can be very negative, especially when:
- it interferes with morale and productivity
- motivates people to become uncooperative
- prevents people from addressing the real issues
- impedes growth and development
- it destroys company and peoples reputation
Conflict Can Be Positive
“Peace is not the absence of conflict; it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” – Ronald Reagan
Conflict, can also be positive when:
- we can solve problems and resolve the disputes
- it improves our work and performance
- it results in learning, development, and growth
- it releases feelings that were stored
- it increases communication, enhances relationships and mutual respect
- it leads to creative solutions
- not necessarily evil or a failure
- an intrinsic part of all important relationships
- a creative force that can generate new options, alternatives and solutions for existing problems
- a natural process that can have constructive or destructive outcomes
5 Conflict Response Modes
How we think influences how we feel. How we think and feel, influences our behavior. We control our behavior, no one else. We determine our responses to conflict, no one else.
There are 5 conflict responses modes:
People often avoid conflict because they feel uncomfortable or they are afraid of failure or getting hurt. But avoiding conflict might be the right strategy in some circumstances, for example:
- on trivial issues
- when you have no influence or power
- when potential damage outweighs benefits ( does more harm than good)
- to allow cool down time
- to reduce tension
- to gather more information
- if issues seem tangential
This is a very common approach to conflict when you believe that achieving your goals is more important than avoiding uncomfortable situations and maintaining a good relationship. There are situations where the competing approach is appropriate and useful:
- when quick and decisive action is vital – emergencies
- when dealing with important and unpopular issues – enforcing rules, budget cuts
- on vital issues when you know you are right
- to protect yourself from bullies
The accommodating response is a cooperative approach that helps to achieve peace and goodwill among the conflict participants. The main characteristic is willingness to forget your own agenda in order to achieve conflict resolution. This approach aims at reaching a reasonable solution to the problems. The best uses of the accommodating styles are:
- when you realize you are wrong
- if the issue is more important to others than to you
- as goodwill to maintain a relationship
- to preserve harmony and avoid disruptions
- to develop others – let them learn from their mistakes
The compromising approach to conflict happens when you realize that achieving your personal goals is as important as maintaining a good relationship. The best uses of the compromising approach are:
- when goals are moderately important but not worth being too assertive
- when there is equal power and mutually exclusive goals
- to achieve temporary settlement of complex issues
- to meet a time deadline
- as a back-up to collaboration
The collaborating approach t conflict is a cooperative response aimed at meeting the needs of all participants as much as possible. It included listening to all parties concerns and working at resolving the conflict but also maintaining the relationship. This approach is best used in the following situations:
- when both concerns are too important to be compromised
- when the objective is to learn – test assumptions, understand others
- to merge insights from people with different perspectives
- to gain commitment through consensus
- to work through hard feelings
6 Steps Of The Collaborative Process
“When you have a conflict, that means that there are truths that have to be addressed on each side of the conflict. And when you have a conflict, then it’s an educational process to try to resolve the conflict. And to resolve that, you have to get people on both sides of the conflict involved so that they can dialogue.” – Dolores Huerta
Conflict usually arises when people perceive their goals, needs, values, or interests as not important and threatened. Conflict, when properly handled is a very useful t create longer lasting and more effective solutions to problems.
The collaborative process to conflict fosters mutual understanding, empathy, respect.
The collaborative process allows the following:
- takes advantage of conflict as a creative force to generate new options, alternatives, and solutions
- utilizes and develops individual and collective capabilities and enhances relationships
- requires different ways of thinking that transforms our perceptions, our actions, and our effectiveness in dealing with change and conflict
The collaborative process has the following steps:
Step 1 – Understand the Issues/opportunities
- Develop a shared understanding of the issues/ opportunities – the current situation, background, causes, etc.
- The group should ask questions and actively listen to make sure they understand the issue.
Step 2 – Identify all interests, concerns, and criteria
- Who are the stakeholders with respect to the issues/opportunities
- What are their aims, objectives, needs, concerns, preferences
- If we do not know all interest, how can we find out?
Step 3 – Brainstorm possible solutions
- What could be done to resolve the issues?
- Generate options, build on ideas, creatively synergize
Step 4 – Agree on best solutions
- Decide which of the possible solutions or combinations fo ideas would best satisfy the interests of all stakeholders (reach consensus)
- Put yourself in each stakeholder shoes – can you/they accept the solutions?
Step 5 – Plan the action to implement the solution
- What steps would have to be taken to implement the solution?
Step 6 – Monitor results, evaluate, and adjust
- How will you know and measure if we have successfully resolved the issue?
Why Is Conflict Good?
“Conflict is good in a negotiation process… it’s the clash of two ideas, which then, all being well, produces a third idea.” – Luke Roberts
For as long as we will be different with different interests, values, believes, opinions conflict will exist.
But that is a good thing, because conflict, when perceived correctly provides many benefits:
- helps us stay open-minded to new ideas and possibilities
- helps us clarify our and others needs
- teaches us to actively listen
- helps us to be more flexiblehttps://my.wealthyaffiliate.com/content/edit/809845#
- helps us find creative solutions
- teaches us to collaborate more
So, instead of running away from conflict, try embracing it and utilizing it to your benefit.
“There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success.” – Phil Knight