Recently a colleague contacted me. We both belong to and contribute to a networking site (ITtoolbox to be exact or http://projectmanagement.ittoolbox.com/). He told me that he was not quite clear regarding my beliefs about conflict. This was wonderful news to me. Basically he was providing me an opportunity to discuss my perspectives about conflicts at work. It also felt like a compliment. It was nice to know that he was interested in my views AND that he took the time to reach out to me. He did me a big favor. By asking me for clarity he helped me to tighten up my own core beliefs about conflict.
I am not against conflict. Healthy teams have productive conflict; unhealthy teams have no conflict (this is so fake) or have damaging conflict (calling names, back stabbing etc.). In fact here are my 3 core beliefs about conflict. I invite you to share your beliefs about conflict with me too.
- Conflict is a necessary part of life – at work and elsewhere. Seeking to avoid all conflict is not the answer. Understanding that you will face conflict and coming to terms with how you will face conflict is critical to your success.
- Your self-awareness is what will teach you how you naturally act (or react) when faced with conflict. This is an important first step.
- When you know yourself and understand your approach to conflict, you can position yourself to handle conflict productively. This means you can assess situations and decide if your natural approach is a good fit for the situation. If it is not you can adapt another approach or call upon someone else to assist.
When I work with individuals, most of this work is about them understanding their natural approach and then helping them to understand others. This allows them to develop strategies for their own behavior based upon the understanding that the part of the equation that they can change the most is themselves. It is not about controlling others or making others act in a certain way. Conflict resolution comes from within.