Technicians are able to identify problem areas and are a great resource in improving products and services from watching their performance in real life.
Conflict gets a bad rap. In almost every example of conflict, big or small, it’s depicted poorly, and honestly, a lot of the time it deserves it. Because of its nature, conflict has a strong capacity to become destructive. This is when we see the bad side of conflict, and the negativity that follows.
However, following shortly after is typically a resolution. That’s where we start seeing the good stuff!
What do you think of when you hear the word conflict? Anger, war, fighting, resentment, arguments? These more negative terms are often what most people are thinking. While these are often closely related situationally to conflict, they ignore the aftermath, the solutions to the problems being fought over, argued about, causing the conflict in the first place.
One of the best things about conflict is how it can draw attention to an issue. Arguments and fights are extreme versions of this, but generally at the heart of every conflict is an issue that needs to be resolved, and this is true across lots of different situations. Conflict has the benefit of focusing attention on a problem that needs solving, which may have gone unnoticed or neglected as unimportant until this point. We see this kind of conflict resolution showing up in situations where a problem, or person experiencing a problem, has reached a tipping point; the last straw has been placed upon the camel’s back, and they can no longer take it. So there’s a conflict, or blow up, or sudden outburst from someone who usually is quiet about goings on in the business. By bringing attention to their problem, they are able to make sure someone is going to start solving it. However, maybe this wasn’t the best strategy for communicating the problem.
That leads us to our next benefit of conflict: improving communication! When a conflict arises around a problem, especially in the situation described previously, there’s been a bump in the communication road. Either this person didn’t feel comfortable enough or confident enough to communicate their concerns surrounding the problem at hand, and they had to be pushed to a breaking point in order for their problem to even begin to get solved. While effective in drawing attention, it would be much more effective to solve problems before they have this much impact on your employees. This moment of conflict highlights an important area to improve upon, the interpersonal communication between all levels of people involved in your organization.
Identify the areas you, your leadership, and your team members are lacking, and address them. Including soft skills training in your skill development schedules is a great way to get this done! By creating an environment in which people from all levels of the organization can feel free to communicate, conflicts can be avoided before they spiral into much more serious problems.
Conflict is also a great tool when used constructively. I’m not talking about big fights or anything here, rather the little conflicts experienced when minds are meeting to solve a problem. Conflict can encourage people to think in different ways than previously preferred, or stimulate creativity, even just the search for answers to solve this issue is conflict working in our favour. Discussing differences of opinion and ideas can push people into communicating their own perspective, listening to that of others, and can cause new conclusions to be created with new information that may not have surfaced had this conflict stayed dormant.
Conflict also has the capacity to build relationships through this new and more diverse communication. By working through disagreements, learning from different perspectives, and encouraging growth, more open and honest lines of communication are created, which can lead to some fantastic new insights within growing relationships.
Within these new relationships, we see conflict fostering the development of collaboration. Leaders can develop the culture of the workplace around collaboration and communication by fostering positive conflicts and problem solving within their team(s). A collaborative approach to problem solving has the power to open so many more solutions than a solo approach, particularly due to the diverse minds coming together in discussion. When working collaboratively, teams get many views on a problem, thanks to the unique points of view each individual brings. Sometimes this involves conceding that another idea is better than what traditionally works, sometimes it includes pieces of many approaches to create a brand new, Frankenstein-style problem-solving strategy that uses input from each team member in some way. By finding common ground during this collaboration, teams bridge the gap created by that little conflict, and improve both their communication skills and their capacity to accept help. Collaboration as conflict resolution encourages innovation and continuous improvement, ideal and necessary for a modern organization.
As Max Lucado said, “Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.” While it is impossible to go through life in general without conflict, let alone working in a fast-paced, action-packed business world, we can choose to create positive or negative outcomes.
Leaders, listen closely to disagreements, and learn from them! Encouraging positive conflict resolution creates a world of constructive opportunity.
Innovation, modernization, creativity, all come from a point of conflict
treated positively. Promoting a culture of communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution can help you improve your workplace environment for employees and clients alike!
Make developing strategies for mitigating conflict and interacting with it positively a priority in your next training sessions or meetings. Creating a plan of action for conflicts can help you recognize potential benefits, encourage collaboration in your team, and build your own communication skills in the process.