How to deal with a Healthy Conflict at work

I believe that Healthy Conflict can produce creative solutions and positive outcomes. There is nothing wrong with having a conflict while respecting others and aiming to achieve a positive result. Researchers demonstrated that when healthy, conflict strengthens relationships, enhances teams’ collaboration, and can become a catalyst for innovation and growth.

By Emile Fakhoury
I have noticed that some individuals trained, and developed skills can foster healthy conflicts. Others may have learned through experiences to avoid confrontation at all costs. In either case, we miss growth opportunities in our lives, careers, and businesses.

I believe being impartial or timid to confront by avoiding conflict until it explodes is not a healthy approach. Instead, we must develop our emotional intelligence to constructively control our minds and reactions.

This is about learning to communicate assertively, and it starts with emotional awareness, being aware of emotional triggers that can set us off.

We usually adopt three types of communication in this circumstance:

-Aggressive: You are not listening!

-Passive: It is ok or acceptable.

-Assertive: Would you prefer to talk at a different time?  Let us reflect on and review it tomorrow.

The majority would go with aggressive communication; in this case, you are forcing your emotions on the other person and imposing your ideas that may not be perfect despite your strong confidence and belief. That's not practical and will build resentment; most importantly, it won’t reach a satisfactory, fair resolution.

Instead, we have taken communication to a mature level by applying an assertive approach.

We cannot change people but can influence their behaviors to suit a fair resolution plan:

  • Start to engage in healthy conflict at an early stage by listening and assessing the emotions.
  • You would need to communicate your expectations clearly and firmly clearly.
  • Assess the current situation objectively and then use the rest of the conversation to work toward a mutually beneficial solution.
  • Take pauses, listen to reactions and emotions, and assess continuously as we have different styles and views. Awareness of the types and flexibility in modifying your approach will significantly reduce conflict.
  • Focus on the problem, not the person. Keeping the conversation about the issue to reduce defensiveness.
  • Practice active listening to understand the other side, not necessarily agreeing, but understanding is needed.

Healthy conflict has a tremendous impact on the workplace and your life:

  • Strong foundation of trust and commitment results when individuals on the team feel secure enough to express different opinions.
  • New ideas and risks could help organizations manage and mitigate rather than wait for surprises to happen.
  • Effectiveness is enhanced when individuals or teams discuss their ideas and make quick decisions that help the organization.

Healthy conflict requires openness and listening, and accepting others’ ideas.

Sticking to your ideas and imposing your authority may give you a quick win, but you would be alone in the long run. To be healthy, you must set your head aside and avoid becoming defensive in conflict.

Creating a team atmosphere that embraces healthy conflict is numerous and profound.

Emile Fakhoury

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