Blog Post By: Amber Brownlow, Baer Performance Marketing Intern
Why is it that so many people feel uncomfortable when faced with conflict? It’s because they hate the tension, uncertainty, and negativity. There is a negative connotation associated with it that makes them feel as though they need to avoid it at all costs. For some time, I felt the same way about conflict. It wasn’t until I had enough communication classes that I realized the true power of argument and conflicting ideas. Arguments and ideas that challenge the norm within a professional setting are not something to be avoided, but embraced. They lead to deeper thinking, changes in perspective, and positive change. They can help breed creativity and productivity.
So, what is the take away? When someone argues with you, listen. Don’t close your mind or avoid the argument. Embrace it! Create a meaningful dialogue with others that will help you make decisions. You can have your own thoughts and ideas, but listen and be open to changing your mind. How can you make a strong decision without considering all of the options first?
Within my capstone communication course, my group continuously argues, and it has made us the strongest group in the class. This is because we argue knowing that it isn’t personal, it’s business. I continuously play devil’s advocate, and my group listens. It helps us to see things from a new perspective and think critically before making decisions. Instead of taking criticisms and challenges as personal attacks, we look at them strictly as points of thought, and options. It’s the most powerful decision-making process I have encountered, as it helps us look at ideas from every angle before accepting them. Constructive conflict can help you in more ways than you know.
Do not accept mediocracy within your business. Do not avoid conflict because you have the predisposition that arguments are bad and create a negative environment. Instead, understand how arguments can stimulate a more productive and innovative environment. Do not allow sensitivity (yours or theirs) to trump creativity and productivity. Allow ideas to challenge the way you currently do things. Believing you are right, simply because you refuse to change or open your mind to other options, does not lead to success. It leads to you being left behind while your competitors innovate and move forward.
Once again, it’s not personal. One of the most important lessons I have learned in my classes is to focus on the problem, not the person. Do not allow your ego or your feelings about someone to get in the way of how you perceive their ideas. They may be significantly younger than you, have 15 years less experience under their belt, and an attitude you don’t prefer, but don’t be stubborn. Hear them out. Allow for meaningful dialogue and debate to steer you onto the path of sound decisions and innovation.
When you foster an environment where a conflict of ideas is not necessarily a negative affair, you will benefit greatly. You will find that you can start to see things from others’ perspectives and that creativity will increase. Ideas are challenged, better ones are introduced, and innovation grows within the company. The key to harnessing conflict and making it work for you is having the right mindset when approaching it. Do not be afraid, do not avoid it, embrace it, and find all of the potential it brings to the table.