As a coach and in my private life I have had a great deal of experience managing conflict. To me conflict is not a bad word, yet I see organizations and individuals tiptoe around it as if it were a landmine. It’s not. It’s a natural expression of healthy engagement and collaboration. Recently I came across an excellent article written by colleagues of mine at the Center of Conflict Dynamics, which I thought would help us to see conflict in a more positive light, and trust that we can, and do, manage conflict to our benefit:
I have never found a high performing team that did not have moments when team members disagreed, debated, or argued. These teams all had a healthy respect for the value of not only having differences of opinions or perspectives, but for having learned how to manage themselves as they worked through the discord or tensions precipitated by their disputes. High performing teams have a high degree of emotional intelligence and recognize that they must go through a process of learning how to first listen to and understand diverging points of view before they can evaluate them and arrive at a converging consensus.
The great news is that emotional intelligence can be learned to a large degree and a small shift in energy and awareness can make a huge difference in how conflict plays out. Learning how to listen without judgment is a key skill in mastering the art of conflict. Try spending just 10 minutes a day listening without judgment to see what a difference that can make in building trust and healthy collaboration.