Is there constructive conflict in your organization, your department, on your team, in your silo, or in your group? Or do you lead, manage or supervise in an environment where one big happy family, where everyone agrees, always smiling and saying yes?

If you’re not experiencing constructive conflict in your workplace, chances are you’re not making high-quality decisions, or encouraging your colleagues to commit to implementing the decisions you’re making.

There is no question that many leaders, managers, supervisors, and employees are often conflict averse. They avoid conflict, feel uncomfortable going against the grain, rocking the boat, or being perceived as troublemakers or not being a team player.

conflict aversion

Much of one’s resistance to conflict has to do with people who, growing up, were subjected to constant loud arguments, disagreements, and fighting between their parents, primary caregivers, relatives, or friends, and became fearful, frightened as a result. , threatened or unsafe around people who raised their voices in arguments, disagreements, disagreements and verbal abuse.

Now, as adults, many of these people resist conflict as, often unconsciously, the fear and terror of their childhood seeps into work situations where conflict arises. So, in the workplace and in other parts of life, they do what they can to avoid or deny conflict. They procrastinate, shut up, accommodate others, or constantly nod in agreement. They get along to get along and choose to remain silent when faced with real or perceived conflict. They view conflict as bad and threatening to their personal or professional sense of safety, security, and well-being.

So, two things have to be said:

That was before and this is now. When faced with conflict, it’s important to be aware of the dynamic that’s unfolding and to know that the fear around conflict at work is probably something old coming up. Working to deal with and overcome one’s fear and resistance with a qualified coach or counselor can lead one to “metabolize” their childhood fear, understand what it is, and choose to engage in conflict without fear of retaliation, being “bad” or ” mistaken”. “, or being physically or verbally hurt in some way or form.

·Constructive conflict is not only a requirement to optimize the decision-making process, but as leaders, managers and supervisors, you have a responsibility to encourage dissent in your organization, in your team or in your department.

There are those who are not in conflict because of the conflict. But how do you generate dissent or disagreement and generate compromise, when some people prefer to avoid conflict at all costs?

Engage people who are resilient

One strategy for engaging resistant people in constructive conflict is to compliment (and allow) them to be “contrary.” You can ask them, encourage them, and allow them to take an opposite point of view, play devil’s advocate, and talk about a subject from a different perspective.

You can ask people to play the role of your competition and present a contradictory view that your competitors might have.

You can ask others to explore what-if scenarios, no matter how outlandish they are.

The point of constructive conflict

It is important not only to include all the necessary stakeholders in the decision-making process, but also to make sure that all bases of decision-making are covered, even if some people may initially feel uncomfortable or experience discomfort in the process. It is important that people are not seen, or made to be seen, as bad or wrong, but as valuable contributors to the process. It is also critical to create a safe and trusting environment in which people can open up and speak their minds without fear of ostracism, reprisals, or unfair personal judgment or criticism.

One of the purposes of fostering constructive conflict is for everyone to put all their cards on the table, disagree, disagree, diverge, be ambiguous, be inconsistent with conventional wisdom, and openly express their views or perspectives, regardless of role. , position or place in the hierarchy. In an environment of constructive conflict, one’s ideas can be refuted, disagreed with, countered, etc., but they cannot be silenced, cut off, or shut down.

What is constructive conflict?

constructive conflict:

… it is constructive to be open, to allow, to accept and not to judge for “the good of the order”.

…focuses on ideas, not personalities.

… allow disagreement

…follow the basic rules to interact.

…is mutually respectful.

…encourages and encourages divergent and lateral thinking and varied perspectives.

…takes place in a living laboratory where people are learning how to engage in constructive conflict and learning about themselves in the process.

…intends to repair any damaged relationships that may arise or result from the process.

…is the fair where everyone is heard and all ideas are considered, even if not everyone is satisfied with the final decision.

…is open and transparent.

…holds people accountable for their role in the process.

…supports the process of building relationships and meaningful dialogue

The notion behind constructive conflict is to create a safe and trusting environment where everyone is heard to enhance the decision-making process and gain buy-in and commitment from participants to implement decisions.

Constructive conflict, when properly implemented, fosters engagement and collaboration. Leaders, managers, and supervisors would do well to view constructive conflict as a process for driving change where all parties are “drivers, not passengers.”

So some questions for self-reflection are:

How do you feel, personally and professionally, about the conflict? Good, bad, indifferent? Because?

·Do you encourage others to be “contrary”, to “discuss the “opposite side”, etc.? Are you open to divergent thinking? If not, why not?

What was your experience with conflict growing up?

Do you ever take the “other side” to move positively and thoughtfully forward in a discussion or decision-making process?

What is the culture in your organization, in your team or department around conflict or constructive conflict?

Are you always or usually an “I’m right” person at work (at home or at play)?

· Do you see the conflict as an opportunity?

Do you shun, avoid, or resist conflict at all costs?

Does your need to achieve at work encourage collaboration or conflict with others?

Are you good at listening?

Does your organization provide conflict resolution training? If not, why not?

What was the last conflict you were involved in that was resolved constructively? What was your role?

When you are involved in a conflict, can you separate the personalities from the issues?

(c) 2008, Peter G. Vajda, PhD and SpiritHeart. All rights in all media reserved.

You may reprint this article as long as it is printed in its entirety, including author information.

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