Learning with Lisa Tan
Until quite recently, academics who studied management assumed that workplace conflict was bad for productivity. But now, there’s an increasing recognition that conflict can have positive effects – and to avoid it is harmful.
In conflict-avoidant workplaces, people would say ‘ I noticed early on that colleagues weren’t being frank with one another…they smiled when they were seething, they nodded when deep down they couldn’t have disagreed more. They tended to accept differences for the sake of preserving their work relationships.’
Conversely, a confrontational culture can facilitate rapid decision-making because weak arguments gets quickly weeded out. But it encourages fierce personal competition – which distracts from the task at hand.
The sweet spot is a culture in which conflicts are played out in the open, but everyone is focused on the group being right rather than proving themselves right, a culture in which disagreement is a challenge to be met, rather than a threat to be repelled.
If you’re a leader, you can model positive disagreements with close senior colleagues, letting everyone know, implicitly and explicitly, that people at this workplace can vigorously disagree and still get along. You can convey to members of your team that if you disagree with them openly, it’s not because you don’t respect them, but because you do.
Book Source: Conflicted – Why Arguments are tearing us apart and how they can bring us together, written by Ian Leslie