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Harnessing the Power of Workplace Conflict

Harnessing the Power of Workplace Conflict

Challenge can go two ways: it can feed the fire of hostility, upset and anger or it can spark the creative juices and catapult innovation and new ways of thinking forward.

It’s a game changer either way but if you want to walk on the positive side, you must override the ‘hurt’ and use it to springboard your business forward, not backwards because the sidestep never did anything but leave you in the quagmire of treading water.

If you are ready to learn how to attune the benefits of challenging thinking then see how, here.

Adam Grant, organisational psychologist and author discusses how to achieve this nirvana. He says there are two types of conflict: · Relationship conflict · Task conflict

“When we think about conflict we often think about relationship conflict, personal emotional clashes that filled not just with friction but also with animosity however there is a different flavour of conflict it is called task conflict which is more clashes around ideas and opinions.”

Dispute or clashes over these types of matters should not be fuelled with personal upset. Bringing different opinions to the table is vital fuel for businesses who want to move their thinking, strategies, and products forward.

Without a diversity of thought, you cannot propel yourself into the future. If everyone around the table nods in affirmation to your ideas, what is the result? The answer is a status quo where you are stuck in the mud.

The data also supports this idea. With reference to Silicon Valley, Grant demonstrates that those who focus on task conflict as opposed to relationship conflict have higher performance.

“The danger of not wanting to have conflict debate and heated discussions, whether it’s because of a more agreeable nature, not wanting anyone to be mad at us or keep the peace can actually stop us from learning and growth that is vital for our own development, pushing forward projects and creating new ideas.“

We all remember the boss that challenged our thinking, that perhaps made us initially feel unworthy, embarrassed, or not good enough. Were they doing this?

Or were they encouraging us to think deeper, delve more, step outside of our comfort zone?

In all probability this was their aim and the result was that you learned something, you achieved higher results, you were stimulated, and you never forgot them.

Kim Scott, author of Radical Candour, suggests holding separate meetings when getting to a decision by holding separated debate meetings and decision meetings. When separated people turn up to debate meetings with an open mind and free from the politicking and feelings of fait accompli.

By becoming open to the benefits that an intellectual debate with our colleagues can provide, we can soon see better outcomes. It only takes one ‘real’ idea to spark the innovation that has been missing.

To create a culture where ‘task conflict’ becomes an innovator, a creator and a source of fine ideas ask yourself this:

  • What can I implement to build an environment in which ‘challenge’ is upholded as a source of good?

  • How can I ensure that differences of opinion don’t escalate to harmful hostility and anger?

  • Is it possible to bring the mindset of thinking together to establish a business in which varying views are considered, discussed, and utilised as opposed to feared and thrown out the door?

  • When can we move forward as a team to appreciate and value the differences of opinions between colleagues?

If you can open your mind to accepting challenge is healthy and beneficial then you can free yourself of the shackles of it as a source of mistrust and suspicion.

Start today and see how far it can push your teams, product and business forward.


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