If you’re anything like me, conflict is probably not your thing. If you’re anything like me, you actually avoid it at all cost – you hate it that much. The truth is though, because it’s a natural, and even an inevitable, part of professional and personal relationships, avoiding conflict often comes at a higher cost than most of us are prepared to pay.
Conflict in the workplace arises from the differences in opinions, ideas, and perceptions that are exchanged each and every day. But, like most challenges, it’s what you do with conflict once it occurs that makes all the difference.
The upside of conflict
In a business environment, you have to find ways to work together. When conflicts arise, determining solutions to resolve issues helps build and strengthen the skills that every great leader needs, like communication and problem solving. And, when handled correctly, it can also strengthen relationships and build trust between you and your team members.
On the flip side, avoiding conflict can cause resentment, misunderstanding, and distrust – emotions that when left alone, have a tendency to fester. Experts suggest that an environment of distrust strongly influences turnover, productivity and in turn, profitability. And, to top it off, the issues that cause conflicts rarely go away or solve themselves. They usually just get bigger, and bigger, and bigger.
Conflict doesn’t have to start from something big. In fact, most of the time, it starts from something small, even something petty at times. But even the smallest molehill of an issue can become a gigantic mountain that’s hard to get over. Soon, the little issue that could have easily been calmly discussed and resolved becomes a systemic problem that’s ingrained in company culture.
So, the next time you try to avoid a conflict, even for a little while, think about what it could truly cost you and your team. And instead look at it as an opportunity for growth. Find a way to resolve the issue in a way that reinforces respect, value, and security for every individual involved so instead of paying for it, you all learn from it and move forward.