Since conflict is unavoidable, it is important to develop strategies for understanding and managing conflict in your life. I like to think of conflict as a signal that something is trying to happen. For instance, you will notice conflict any time you are in a situation where there are different opinions and ideas.
Conflict tends to be feared. Although it is on the rise because of increased levels of pressure and stress, all conflict is not bad. It can be a good thing when it:
- Raises feelings that need to be considered.
- Addresses problems.
- Helps people be real.
- Facilitates recognizing and benefiting from differences.
Furthermore, it is important to understand that conflict is:
- A sub-skill of communication referred to as interpersonal skills.
- Normal in relationships and organizations.
- Needed to get diversity of opinions and increase creativity.
You may wonder if conflict can be good, why it causes so much discomfort. It is when conflict is poorly managed that it:
- Becomes stressful.
- Lowers morale.
- Hampers finding solutions and productivity.
- Causes more and continued conflicts.
- Increases inappropriate behaviors.
Several conditions make your work area a fertile ground for conflict:
- A rigid hierarchical structure with an authoritarian leadership culture tends to contribute to frequent arguments and an active rumor mill. Usually, open communication is discouraged.
- A poorly instituted reward/promotional system can lead to unfair favoritism.
- When managers are forced to compete for limited resources, they are less likely to get along with others because they are more concerned with their personal or departmental gains. The ensuing power struggle causes them to forget about the organization’s overall well-being.
- Change itself can destabilize relationships because people struggle when they are forced out of their comfort zones. For example, companies involved in mergers and/or acquisitions experience more conflict. Rapidly changing environments (including growth) create a ripe atmosphere for higher levels of stress, anxiety and conflict.
When conflict surfaces, think of it as a signal to discover what is really trying to happen. Reduce your level of stress so that you can be part of the solution to eliminate the ingredients for conflict. In my next post, I will give suggestions for coping with conflict.
Comment below about what you have learned from conflicts in your life.
To your success,