Yes, the Inuit can identify 50 different kinds of snow. But in order to be effective at work, you just need to recognize two kinds of conflict: one that’s essential for success, and one that gets in the way of it.
TranscriptIn With The “Good” Conflict, Out With The Bad
Many people assume that conflict at work is a bad thing.
But they have it wrong.
Conflict, in fact, is essential for our success.
The key is to recognize the difference between two broad categories of conflict: “good” conflict and “bad” conflict.
“Good” conflict involves direct and passionate debate over ideas: the most effective strategy, the most promising hire, the most impactful design, the most efficient process, and so on. Good conflict makes us smarter, individually and collectively. We absolutely depend upon this kind of conflict to be our best.
“Bad” conflict focuses on people and personal characteristics rather than on ideas. It calls into question others’ motives or value or character. It leaves people defensive and less connected.
The best workplaces have lots of good conflict: people are engaged by the challenges they face, and they trust and respect one another enough to butt heads when necessary to arrive at the right solutions.
And at the worst workplaces, there’s lots of bad conflict: backbiting, rumors, blame. The result: little learning, reduced engagement and poor performance.
To be most effective at work, you need to encourage the good kind of conflict, and discourage the bad. And when the two overlap, as they sometimes do, you need to help people tease them apart.
More to come…