I once heard someone say, “Show me a relationship void of conflict and I’ll show you someone who is lying.” Though we want to believe true interaction and relationship can exist without conflict, it’s absolutely impossible – because we are human. Humans have conflict. It’s in our DNA. We even have conflict with our loyal pets… remember your brand new shoes, shredded in the living room?
Conflict is inevitable.
Your only choice is whether you want to have healthy or unhealthy conflict. So how do we have healthy conflict?
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Trust. Absence of Fear.
In my last blog, I mentioned the importance trust had on the inner workings of a team. Trust was the first building block in “The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team,” followed by conflict. Healthy conflict is built on trust, and healthy conflict is crucial for a functional team. Without conflict we will never find better solutions. We will never innovate. We will never grow.
Good things come out of hard conversations, when people stand up for decisions or plans that they believe in. It allows people to freely express their true thoughts because they know they will be heard, and their opinion will be understood rightly. You feel the freedom and safety to express your differences without fear of reproach.
Negative conflict is a double edged sword. Either it’s backstabbing conflict through destructive gossip behind someone’s back, or it’s the conflict that’s never brought up and therefore never resolved. It seems unspoken conflict is the most damaging, like a festering wound. Oftentimes such conflict comes out in passive-aggressive remarks, which is unfortunately commonplace in many corporate cultures.
Take a few minutes to watch this Ted Talk: “Dare to Disagree,” by Margaret Heffernan as she discusses the benefits of conflict in organizations and how it can allow for our very best thinking!
Ultimately, healthy conflict is crucial for a team to function! Without it, teams miss out on great ideas, innovations, and changes. Otherwise, your team will be surrounded by members who aren’t “all in” or have become apathetic. Many a great company would not have made it without healthy conflict. Don’t run from conflict, but create a safe trusting environment and watch the magic happen!