Embracing Respectful Conflict

woman listening to coworker

When you use the phrase “embrace respectful conflict,” most times people won’t have a clue what you mean, but in fact, embracing respectful conflict is a key component in building trust within a team.

A fact of life is that almost no one agrees on everything. People have their own opinions, ideas and procedures. In a business setting, one may aggressively, even disrespectfully, argue their point thinking it makes them right, smart or good at their job. This obviously causes significant short and long-term problems. While other people may avoid conflict altogether Joel Peterson, Chairman of JetBlue and successful executive said: “You may have a very quiet organization that appears respectful, but it’s quiet like a hospital is quiet, there’s disease everywhere.” Avoiding conflict is not a good way to build trust within a company, but rather embrace conflict in a respectful manner.

How and why does this build trust? In his book The 10 Laws of Trust, Petersen says the following: “When parties disagree openly in a spirit of mutual respect and move towards—not away from—problems, trust grows rather than recedes.” There isn’t one way to solve any problem, everyone has their own ideas, many of which will probably conflict. Placing conflicting ideas out on the table for respectful discussion not only grows your own ideas and understandings, but also allows you to grow trust in your co-workers and strengthens the bond within a team.

Seek out potential conflict and obliterate it before it ever arises. Mike Mayatt, a writer of Forbes magazine says the following, “By actually seeking out areas of potential conflict and proactively intervening in a just and decisive fashion you will likely prevent certain conflicts from ever arising.” Why should you have to solve conflict when you can find it and take care of it before it ever arises? It’s better to avoid a conflict than to resolve one.  However, once a conflict raises its ugly head, swift, honest and polite discussions are in order and in everyone’s best interest.

In conclusion, avoiding discussing a conflict will only cause problems, seeking it out and take care of it before it arises will help productivity, build trust and avoid problems for you and your team.

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