5 Steps to Producing Productive Conflict

Conflict is an inevitable part of life, especially one’s professional life, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. When a conflict arises or things become heated a person may tend to think, “Why can’t everyone just get along?” That is okay; that is a natural thought process, but it is not one that will move things forward or lead to progress. Conflict situations can be used to make things better, to improve processes, and to take teams to places they could not have fathomed going to before the conflict occurred.

In just five steps, conflict can turn from a perceived negative to an essential tool of successful production, leading you to wonder how you ever lived without it in your professional life. Note that last part: this is exclusively for your professional life. I take no responsibility if you try this in a personal relationship. Why? Because personal relationships require more emotion, a history among all parties involved, and dynamics that are nonexistent in professional situations.

The Basics

First, let us come to a consensus on some basic definitive statements regarding conflict.

Conflict stems from a difference in opinions and involves strong emotions.

There are both productive and destructive behaviors that become evident regardless of the conflict at hand.

As stated previously, conflict is inevitable.

There are times when the situation will be brief, explosive, subtle, long-term, or everything in-between.

Sometimes you will not even recognize a conflict exists until you are knee-deep in it. It improves results (no, really!).

Individuals or teams must move forward, beyond the negative, to make conflict positive -- to produce productive, collaborative, team-oriented, successful results.

The Steps

1. Identify Your Proclivity