Conflict is a double-edged sword

You must have faced conflict in various forms, through your relationships: personal, work, academic, team, and casual acquaintances. In simple terms, conflict arises when you have a difference of opinion with another person. So all of us experience similar kinds of conflict in our relationships and work-life. What differentiates people from each other is – the way they deal with the conflict in their lives.

Conflict is Growth

Conflict is an essential element for all creativity and growth. An optimal amount of conflict pushes us out of our comfort zones and generates new opportunities for innovation and progress. A healthy amount of conflict in your organization, team or family is an awesome sign of growth.

You may want to work with us as we re-evaluate our concepts for the ways of dealing with conflict. Our attitude towards conflict makes a huge difference in our internal team-work & external client engagements.

1. Is it ok to push the other person down, so that you can win?

Competition means prioritising your personal good over the other or the team. Competition can enter team dynamics, as a coping mechanism in times of conflict. Unhealthy competition thrives on separating people into silos. Satisfaction is not related to a collective, positive goal.

Essentially, the team lacks a meaningful and shared purpose. Conflict triggers a fear of failure, which is counter-productive to creativity and growth. Given a choice, competition is not a winning strategy of conflict resolution for your team.

But in specific situations, where you need a one-time, quick-fix solution or to deal with your opponent’s competitive attitude, competition might be useful. Use it sparingly and consciously, only as a temporary measure if better options have failed.

2. What is the point of giving-up?

Accommodation or Avoidance are manifestations of giving up on your personal gaols. These are low consciousness level options, where you are so demotivated that you would rather give-up on your goals than deal with the conflict. There can be several underlying reasons: the conflict is too overwhelming, you lack a sense of direction or you have exhausted your resources. In accommodation, you throw in the towel, and allow the other person to win. Whereas, in avoidance you neglect the existence of the conflict completely. Due to social expectations, personality issues, or circumstantial factors, people may find themselves trapped in one of these scenarios. These situations are obvious because they lead to severe outcomes of frustration and negativity.

You and your team may need to acquire new skills, resources or redefine your strategy.

In rare situations, accommodation or avoidance might be useful: when your new strategy makes facing the conflict irrelevant or when it is a temporary choice for a bigger long-term gain.

3. Collaboration is the key to Success!

When faced with conflict, some people apply concepts like ‘mutual support’ and ‘shared growth’. This is the best way to deal with conflict. Collaboration is a simultaneous choice of growth, for you, for the other, and for the team. Collaboration is a natural process of simultaneously facilitating the uniqueness within you and your team members. The collaborative attitude is the basis of all progressive and collective growth.

Collaboration naturally grows in a team that feels emotionally secure and is united by a shared and meaningful purpose. The team members have a strong sense of connectedness and easy togetherness. An artificially enforced and structured team rarely manages a collaborative work flow.

A strong and collaborative team grows organically around a shared purpose.

Once the energy field of collaboration starts growing, it spreads and stimulates creativity and well-being at a collective level. On the other hand, if the energy field of collaboration does not manage to take roots, the same group becomes vulnerable to lower consciousness level states of dealing with conflict.

4. Compromise: The Middle Way

It is one thing to discuss intellectually about ways of dealing with conflict; it is a completely different ball game to practise this in real life. When faced with practical realities, we often see ourselves falling to the temptation of non-collaborative styles. Real life can be messy and confusing. Through the confusion, it is not always easy to find positive and progressive ways of collaborating.

In such cases, Compromise is a middle-way option to hold your ground. You can use your time to allow the confusion to settle down. When the air clears a bit, innovate ways to rebuild the Collaborative path for your team.

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Reference: Thomas, K.W. and Kilmann, R.H. (1974). Conflict Mode Instrument, Sterling Forest, New York.