Confident Leader

3 simple tips to make conflict constructive

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I love to avoid conflict on any level, personal or in the work place; it makes me uncomfortable and for the most part agreeing is an easier and safer option in the immediate moment. But if I’m honest, I’ve also learned that faking a like-minded approach for the sake of ‘harmony’ or seeking out and surrounding myself with the real deal, also doesn’t grow my knowledge or challenge my thoughts, processes and approach to things in either area of my life.

We stand to gain more from our interactions when we are prepared to back ourselves and our ideas, put them forward, dare to disagree and create endless possibilities and discussion as a result of challenging those around us. With a constructive approach of course. I think we can all agree that conflict for the sake of disagreement when it is not underpinned with a true curious intention to grow and learn won’t lead anywhere positive for the parties involved.

But in reflection on my journey to date, not being comfortable and daring enough to disagree sooner has held me back and below are my key takeaways to help ensure you create constructive and beneficial conflict:

1. Look for different views

Seek reflection, feedback and collaboration from those that are different to you. If you look to people who will be an echo chamber and only provide you what you want to hear you aren’t creating opportunity for growth. Embracing the perspectives of those with different backgrounds, disciplines, ways of thinking and experiences can widen your own.

2. Keep perspective

  • Remember to maintain perspective and context. Disagreement, while healthy and constructive can quickly become about being right or wrong when you allow it to become personal or viewed through a micro lens. It is then that your contribution to the discussion is in danger of becoming argumentative and derailing, rather than value adding.

3. Weigh the situation

  • Work on your approach and consider if the situation is appropriate for constructive conflict. There is a time and a place, and sometimes that place may still be that you will agree to disagree — if it allows for you to present a challenge it’s important to do so with the right approach. You want your conflict to create a mutually beneficial discussion.

About Carly Green

A senior HR business partner, young mother and wife with an incomparable zest for life, Carly Green is an advocate for women in the workplace. Carly is a leader passionate about integrating motherhood and career and shares this with a broad network of professional females. Her personal mission: to show that you can successfully have both, if you want to.

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1 Comment

  1. anne@streamlinehr.com.au'

    Anne Herbert

    January 29, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    I fondly remember our conversations that involved a little conflict Carly. They always made me question my thoughts and challenged what I thought was right and wrong. They were valuable for my growth and for our clients. Great article!

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