Why are we often gripped by fear when it comes to managing conflict? For many, the answer could be summed up in this simple acronym for FEAR by business consultant, Terry Corbell, – “Frantic Effort to Avoid Responsibility”. We want to avoid owning up to our words and actions, shutting down self-examination that could uncover culpability. We often resist assuming responsibility for any role in the office brouhaha for risk that it will reflect badly on us. So instead, we make excuses, accusations and quick exits. What the primitive “fight or flight” lobe of our brains doesn’t realize is we generally capture the respect of people and gain their confidence when we acknowledge and own our mistakes. In fact, accountability not only can mitigate and defuse conflict, it is a key to increased trust and productivity in the workplace.
Is conflict the missing ingredient in your work meetings? According to Patrick Lencioni, author of, Death by Meeting, the answer is a resounding Yes! Lencioni writes, “Meetings are not inherently boring. By definition, they are dynamic interactions involving groups of people discussing topics that are relevant to their livelihoods. So why are they so often dull? Because we eliminate the one element that is required to make any human activity interesting: conflict”
So it appears that conflict in meetings is not only a good thing but a necessity if the boss wants to keep employees engaged and meetings “interactive and relevant”. This may seem counter-intuitive since a large and growing body of research supports the fact that conflict in the workplace costs businesses exorbitant amounts of money every year. Conflict in and of its self is not the problem but rather, it is management’s inaction or inability to properly deal with conflict. Just the other day I received a phone call from a bank manager who said, “All I do is deal with conflict so I figured I should learn how to do it”
It’s estimated that 30% of a manager’s time is spent dealing with conflict and yet a mere 57% of managers have actually received conflict management training. Lencioni says that if conflict were productively “mined” and “nurtured” during meetings, workers might actually enjoy going to a meeting more than going to the movies!
Empowering people and businesses to transform conflict into opportunities for profound growth!