Most people cringe when they think about conflict. The response is natural. Conflict imposes a danger and the human brain is wired to escape danger. You may have heard of the expression “fight-or-flight mode.” Our response can be ad hoc, defensive, or even inflated.
For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate. — Margaret Hefferman
We want harmonious relationships so we can collaborate and get things done, even in a competitive environment. What do you do when conflict arises in your team? What do you do when you are in the middle of it?
You can be the peacemaker, the problem-solver, the power-player, the diplomat, the ignorant, or pick a different role — even a hybrid version.
It is worth examining your habitual response while observing how others handle conflict. What is working well for you — and others?
The answer may differ by organization. Even teams have different preferences to handle conflict.
Why Conflict Skills Matter
As you rise in your career, managing conflict is a recurring topic. Managing conflict is a leadership skill that can make or break your career. Taking the time to gain awareness of your own communication style will help you to have a “meta-view” when you face conflict.
A meta-view is the ability to be in a situation while at the same time viewing it objectively, as an outside-observer. In that role, you are looking for the best response versus your habitual response, a.k.a. your ‘knee-jerk reaction’. Think of it as if you were able to clone yourself, with your clone observing the entire room and conversation from a distance.
This distanced view can help you to detach from the emotion of the moment. Now you can assess what’s at stake for each person involved and shift your thinking to what is causing the conflict, not who.
Create Conflict on Purpose to Boost Productivity
There is a time when purposefully creating conflict can be beneficial for your team. Did I make you curious? Then take a look at the course below “Managing Team Conflict” to see how to put it to use in brainstorming.
Conflict can also be used to build resilient teams with the ability to get through conflict in a productive manner! Before you can have productive conflict, you have to let go of any conflict-aversion or the idea and mindset that all conflict is bad.
Learn to understand why you want to avoid conflict. Understanding your reasons behind your urge to avoid conflict or to have a negative view on conflict will help you to deal with underlying beliefs and assumptions.
Resources to Build Conflict Management Skills
To grow your ability to manage conflict for yourself — or for members of your team — take a look at these resources:
- Improving Your Conflict Competence (All Levels) — 46 min. (Video)
- Conflict Resolution Foundations (Beginners) — 51 min. (Video)
- 10 Types of Difficult People (Audio) — 19 min.
- TED Talk: Dare to Disagree (Video) — 12 min.
- Managing Team Conflict (Intermediate) — 3 min. (Video)
- Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High (Book) — 272 pages
Here’s to making great choices!
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