Conflict Resolution Cartoon
Few people naturally talk about conflict in positive terms, seeing it as a generally undesirable, negative and even destructive force to be avoided or minimized as much as possible, when it arises. However, a workplace without any conflict may not be ideal either, with individuals perhaps not being willing to challenge the status quo or to express an alternative opinion to that accepted by the majority. We therefore need to strike a balance between too much and too little conflict. Once we have done this, we need to ensure conflict is quickly and positively dealt with whenever it arises. In this way, conflict between individuals or between teams can act as an early warning signal that something is wrong or less than ideal; and new ideas, methods or approaches can be discovered which help to not only restore the relationship equilibrium, but help to make the whole organization a better place to work.
Striking the “right balance” is no easy task of course, and will vary from one organization to the next. However, it is likely that it can be achieved in most cases by having and carefully implementing clear “code of conduct” policies which, among other things, allow for open debate and the sharing of ideas across departments and levels of the enterprise but in a positive and respectful way at all times.