American essayist, Hamilton Mabie once said “don’t be afraid of opposition. Remember, a kite rises against, not with, the wind.” Think of this quote as a way of setting the tone when dealing with conflict. Conflict, in it’s truest sense, is not a negative despite the connotation. Conflict is simply any situation in which two or more people appear to have opposing needs or wants of the outcome. Instead of letting the conflict in your organization get the best of you and your employees, here’s 3 ways to turn workplace conflict into results:
1. Establish a Conflict-Loving Culture
Once again, conflict is not inherently bad or negative. Conflict is an opportunity to grow. Take the power away from conflict by embracing it in your organization. Establish a culture that honors and encourages respectful disagreements in communication. It’s possible to avoid negative conflict when the conflict that does arise is already anticipated and viewed as a positive situation that helps the organization grow.
2. Establish a Clear Goal
Conflict arises because of opposition, and conflict turns negative when the opposing sides lose sight of the importance of the conflict. If a workplace conflict arises and there’s no clear goal, human nature can take over. When human nature takes over, next thing you know, the conflict on hand is forgotten about and the two or more parties involved are just arguing for the sake of arguing.
3. Establish a Deadline
When you a have a deadline for something to get done, results tend to come along more quickly. Before a conflict is fully delved into, establish a deadline. Conflict has every opportunity to become negative interactions when there is not end in sight. Start by establishing that the two or more parties involved in the conflict need to come to a conclusion by X day or time, otherwise table it or bring in an unbiased party to help guide the conversation.
Causes of Conflict
- Values, beliefs, attitudes, opinions
- Policies and procedures
- Expectations, goals, responsibilities
- Information needs
- Personality, social style, work style
Benefits of Positive Conflict
- Process improvement
- Higher energy levels
- Diversity & inclusion
- Improved/stronger relationships
- Individual growth & development
- Organizational growth & development