How Conflict In The Workplace Can Be Beneficial

Are you the type of person who loves conflict? If you are like most people, the answer is 'No!' In fact, most people run from conflict. If you are in a leadership position, you know the bliss of a 'conflict-free' work zone. However, as a leader you know that there is no such thing as a 'conflict-free' work zone. Every once in a while, conflict rises up. Throughout the year, there is some level of conflict brewing. As a leader you are faced with two options:

1. Run from or avoid conflict

2. Deal with conflict

The first option is very easy to do. You will find that your natural inclining is to avoid conflict. No one needs much convincing to avoid conflict. The second option on the other hand is a different story. If you are like me, you hate confrontation. Also there is the fear that in times of conflict you may say or do something that would cause irreparable damages. Well let me go ahead and say, that is just an excuse!

So why is conflict present at your workplace? The answer is that conflict is present in any environment where two or more individuals are working to solve a problem. There is conflict in interviews, business partnerships, etc. People have different moods and hang-ups. So in the workplace, we take a bunch of people and give them a problem to solve. Each with their own likes and dislikes, their own methods and problem-solving skills. This is the breathing ground for conflict.

A good example of conflict is any reality TV show where people need to win a challenge as a group. Shows like 'Survivor' or 'The Apprentice' are windows into this reality of how people will inevitably have conflict. People are not robots. They are created beings with intelligence, emotions and their own unique outlook on life. So it is expected that there will be differences of opinions.

Leaders must come to terms with this truth. So the main objective of a leader is not how do I avoid conflict, but how do I handle conflict.

So what is conflict's role?

If conflict is managed correctly, it can be beneficial. Think of conflict as a surgery. At first it will cut a wound into the body. This is where things are let out on the table. People are being blatantly honest, not holding anything back and letting it all out. This is where as a leader, you must be able create a new starting point. Take everyone's issues and find ways to deal with them. Enlist help of the people involved in the conflict. Encourage communication. You will find that after individuals have had the chance to speak their minds, they will be more willing to work with others to help solve problems. Obviously, not all underlying problems might be solved at first, and so it will take a few more tries to deal with issues.

The bottom line is that when conflict is managed correctly, just like surgery, it will open some wounds to deeper problems. The challenge is to address those defect issues and then close the wound. In this sense, the role of conflict is actually beneficial.

Source by Mark A. Singh