We all engage in some conflict avoidance; it is uncomfortable, difficult to navigate, unpredictable, and time consuming. Adding complexity to this natural fear of conflict is having to interact more frequently in a virtual environment where conflict can be even more challenging because it’s harder to tell when people disagree, read non-verbal’s, and to jump in with ideas.

Why we fear conflict:

  • Emotions may arise in me that may be difficult to manage and if I don’t, I may damage my reputation or breach trust. 
  • Sharing my views may elicit hurt or anger in others. It may feel like a personal attack. 
  • Calling out my disagreement or a different viewpoint (or asking others to do it) might damage relationships. 

As coaches, a great majority of leaders we encounter have shared a desire to improve in both their ability to navigate conflict and seek tools and techniques for mining for productive conflict because they know: 

  • Passionate debate results in better ideas and solutions.  
  • Assumptions can be revealed and challenged resulting in better understanding and outcomes.
  • Important and difficult issues can be identified, clarified, and then resolved.  
  • Building trust requires that team members are able to embrace each other’s similarities and differences. Having opportunities to share different viewpoints opens us to new ways of thinking and knowing one another.

Navigating conflict requires respect and understanding of the real fears that exist while having the courage to engage in it because of the benefits. The key is to keep it productive make it a practice. We have a tool that will help you develop this skill for yourself and your team that is designed for both in-person teams and those who work in a virtual environment.

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