I recently had a discussion with one of the folks in my org regarding conflict and his perception was that conflict was negative. During our conversation it became very apparent that we did not classify conflict the same.
To me, conflict is a necessary evil for a healthy environment and that it is necessary for success. I believe that open and respectful communication about a point is good because this dialogue ensures that all of the various point of view are shared. Often this respectful airing of opinions stimulates new perspectives that are superior to the ones originally brought to the discussion.
Back to my discussion, it turns out that he in fact did not have an issue with conflict, rather he had an issue with not being treated in a respectful manner. In particular, he was perfectly happy with the decision as long as he felt that someone had listened to his opinion.
In his book Death by Meeting, Patrick Lencioni defined conflict as “Conflict is nothing more than an anxious situation that needs to be resolved”. He defined it far better than I every could have and therefore I have adopted that definition and added “in a respectful manner” to create my own definition.
“Conflict is nothing more than an anxious situation that needs to be resolved in a respectful manner”