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The Gift of Workplace Conflict

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    The gift of grace? Definitely! The gift of gab? Sure. But conflict at work? A “gift?” With the right approach, the most common source of workplace conflict can lead to unexpected and powerful benefits.

    Transcript

    The Gift of Workplace Conflict

    I’m not a big fan of presents.

    Call me crazy, but I honestly don’t want for very much. And when I get a gift, I have to pretend to like it so as to not hurt the other person’s feelings…

    I think that’s the way most of us feel when life hands us a conflict: You know, thanks, but no thanks.

    But here’s the thing.

    Work without conflict is not an option.

    Sure, some conflicts are nasty and without value. But most, though challenging to navigate, can truly be a force for good: for change, for learning, and for growth.

    I see it happen all the time.

    Just last week, I saw a talented executive, whose organization was in crisis, courageously ask his staff for feedback. Not only did he learn to be a better leader, he ended up with a more engaged workforce and I’m certain a more profitable business unit.

    I also worked with an independent contractor who, after some ill-advised remarks, was forced to have a dreaded difficult conversation with her employer. During the conversation, the two not only improved their relationship, but the employer asked the contractor to do additional work!

    Now I don’t expect any of you to jump out of bed tomorrow and think: “Boy, I hope I have a big conflict today!”

    But when life gives you one, see if you can approach it as a gift. An unusual gift certainly, but a gift nonetheless.

    With the right attitude, you’ll likely find something you truly value.

10 responses to The Gift of Workplace Conflict

  1. Gail says:

    This is such wise advice, Richard. How to use whatever comes your way. We will have conflicts at work (and home!) in any case – so best to learn to use them productively and create better relationships and outcomes. This really resonates with the work I do in NVC. Your clients are lucky to have you!

  2. Chupacabra says:

    Positive interactions—-conflicts included!–are critical to successful workplaces. This post gives me the confidence I need to communicate effectively, as well as a clear understanding of my individual responsibility, no matter my title or role. It also gives the organization a plan for what it can do to foster a tension-free workplace. What happens when disruptive behavior gets out of control though?

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      You are right. Too often conflicts are a destructive force within an organization, particularly if they are unaddressed and left to poison the climate and culture. Thanks for writing.

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