A business owner made a funny comment the other day when asked about dealing with conflicts in their business. They said they never have any conflict because it is just a distraction they can’t afford to deal with. It was a bit off the cuff that they made the remark, but it triggered a series of thoughts about how we as business leaders deal or do not deal with the conflicts that take place in our organizations.
Conflicts can come in a variety of ways into a business but can generally be summed up in the following four categories – Relationship Conflict, Task Conflict, Process Conflict, or Status Conflict. Once conflict arrives and it will, it cannot be tossed aside and not dealt with because it only gets more complicated and costly. Unfortunately, we cannot avoid conflict, so we need to be trained and educated in how to best work through a situation where conflict is present. We must start by pausing, taking a deep breath and bring our full attention to the emotional intelligence of the matter.
Most conflicts cause a burst of emotions to be triggered. We vs them, this vs that, my world or opinion vs your world or opinion, I’m better than this or that etc. The list is endless and widely varying. At the beginning it might appear to be harmless banter by two or more parties. Over time when not dealt with productively it grows into a very established view and thoughts which if not addressed become the foundations of building walls between people, situations, departments etc.
Not all conflict is negative. In fact, constructive conflict can be a hidden superpower of an organization or person when used judiciously to cultivate innovation, creativity, and change. What starts as a difference of views, opinions, ways of doing something or whatever the misalignment or misunderstanding is, it can either be engaged productively to make something better from it or it can be ignored hoping it will handle itself. The reality is that very often, disregard for the conflict only stokes the intensity downstream.
Emotions have a way of getting pretty intense if not dealt with in a constructive way. As part of our role as leaders we must lead by example. If we get intense in a conflict, then this behavior is endorsed, and it becomes the means by which everyone else in the organization can deal with conflict and those involved in the conflict. If on the other hand we as leaders find the opportunity in the conflict to be creative and innovative to build a better outcome from the conflict then we are mentoring a set of expectations in the culture on how to deal with conflict in a positive, constructive way.
We started our read today indicating it was a funny comment. The reality is that it is anything but funny. Conflict damages relationships, breaks processes, builds waste into accomplishing tasks and in the end makes or widens gaps between people in general. It is disappointing to say, but if you want to see how not to deal with conflict all you need to do is watch the news or click into social media. You see how our government and social leaders avoid constructive, productive conversations to deal with differences. These ultimately trickle down into our communities’ building walls between not just political factions but between neighbors and even families.
This week, take a positive look at conflict as a superpower to innovation, creativity and better results for you and your organization. Don’t fall victim to the negitive aspects of conflict. Pause, take a breath and be patient with the emotions of the event. It is real and needs to be dealt with in a productive and constructive way.
Looking to build a culture where conflict is an ingredient to your future success? Give JKL Associates a call and speak with a Promise Guide at FL (407) 984-7246 or MI (313) 527-7945
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