Understanding Conflict as a Positive Opportunity

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Understanding Conflict as a Positive OpportunityThe frequency of conflict among individuals and groups is increasing. This not only is true for businesses it is also true for volunteer groups, charity groups, and church organizations.  In fact, Christian congregations that have been known in the past to be a place where people could get along are seeing increased episodes of conflict and many managers and team leaders are spending more time than they desire in dealing with conflict and its consequences. 

Conflict has been an issue discussed for some time.  Anyone who expects change to be comfortable and conflict-free has not studied history.  U.S. President Ronald Reagan once said, “Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”  Robert Laughlin, an American physicist, said, “…conflict through debate is a powerful means of revealing truth.”  Conflict is not necessarily a negative.  In fact, conflict if handled properly can be a creative tool.

When conflict becomes unhealthy and dysfunctional it usually involves some combination of intentions, goals, aims, objectives, purpose, desires, wishes, designs, targets, ambitions that are fueled by personal egos and agendas.  These types of actions are often masked in a “hidden plan or scheme.”  This takes place when personal agendas take precedence over the good of the team, company, church or organization.

Good and Bad Conflict

Conflict is not always bad.  Conflict is a like cholesterol.  There is the good kind and the bad kind! When it comes to conflict within our organizations, businesses or churches, we often assume it to be the bad type. Here is a fact, organizations need the good  kind of conflict to grow and prosper. All conflict is not bad.  Sounds strange, doesn’t it?

Even though conflict is not always bad it must be watched carefully.  If unresolved, tensions can increase and egos can become uncontrolled.   When this takes place alliances are formed, expanding issues evolve and other people are drawn into the issues at hand.  This is when the lines are drawn, the wagons circle, and heels dig deep into the ground to win the battle.

If a conflict is left unresolved it can turn into an acute chronic condition.  This type of condition can become destructive.  Ignoring conflict, hoping it will “go away” or that “it will work itself out,” is a classic trap.  Left unresolved, the dynamics of conflict can harden into an unhealthy condition. It may become invisible and go underground.  Backbiting, and decreased communications are symptoms of this chronic condition.

Conflict decreases productivity for any team. As conflict festers, teamwork breaks down, and morale deprecates. One of the greatest challenges for any team leader is see conflict in its birthing stage, take hold of the situation with patience, and understand that it need not evolve into an explosive, negative situation.

How do you handle conflict in your organization?

Do you have a strategy in dealing with conflict when it comes around?

What resources do you use in handling conflict?

Dale Roach?

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