What would it be like to turn conflict into a positive engagement? Is it possible to turnconflict into an exercise in discovery or a vehicle to nourish our sense of curiosity? Could the presence of Conflict result in positive engagement in our organizations?
Often, it depends on the context andhow we choose to use it. We’ve all heard about the concept of fight or flight,in relation to dealing with conflict. I’ve often thought of Conflict as something to avoid whenever possible. We all know someone who loves to argue, pick fights or nurture conflict with others. Some even draw negative inspiration from living in perpetual conflict with others. Most of the types ofconflict we face on a day-to-day basis are pretty unhealthy and can certainly harm our relationships with others.
What would it be like to turn conflict into a positive engagement? Is it possible to turnconflict into an exercise in discovery or a vehicle to nourish our sense of curiosity? Could the presence of Conflict result in positive engagement in our organizations? Are there scenarios where conflict can be healthy and even help nurture positive relationships? I think it’s certainly possible – and worth exploring.
First though, howshould we define Conflict? A fight, battle or prolonged struggle or something else? For many Leaders in Organizations, conflict shows up for us by way of antagonism, opposition to our ideas and interests. Sometimes it’s driven by a clash of personalities resulting in ill feelings, contentious conversations or even open hostility.
Conflict is a sign of life – or at least it can be. It’s often a sign that people are thinking differently and are unafraid to share a different point of view. One of the ways we add value to organizations is by sharing our ideas, listening to others and actively leaning in on projects. Thoughtful people will always have differences, as Leaders we should learn to expect that, and encourage healthy dialogue.
So, how would you use Conflict as a tool for driving discovery, staying curious and generating new ideas? If we approach conflict in a constructive fashion, it can actually help identify gaps, improve synergies and create learning experiences. Diversity of viewpoints is important – helps break down “Group Think” fosters creativity, innovation and fresh thinking. This type of Conflict is healthy and can be good for an organization.
Often though, Conflict does not start out healthy, more often than not, it manifests as an unhealthy and potentially destructive force, producing negativity and strife within an organization. Great Leaders use conflict to make organizations better. As an aspiring leader, you’re probably learning how to evoke a mindset and culture within your organization which encourages constructive dialogue.
As Steven Covey says, “Nothing diffuses negative energy than to say – “clearly you see things differently, I need to listen and hear your perspective”. This doesn’t mean you always agree or change your perspective. However, by engaging others with an open mind and authenticity, we create an environment of trust and mutual respect. One which encourages individuals to bring diverse views and engage in Healthy Conflict.
So, next time you’re faced with Conflict – perhaps you could try to look beyond the concept of fight or flight. Think about how you can use conflict as a tool to engage, collaborate and foster healthy relationships.
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