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Positive Conflict in the Workplace: When Disputes Have Business Perks

Pollack Peacebuilding by Jeremy Pollack

Conflict is something we typically try to avoid, especially when we’re talking about business environments. Conflict in the workplace can decrease productivity, create a hostile environment, add frustration to an already stressful day, and significantly diminish the customer experience. But could there be such a thing as positive conflict in the workplace where something is gained in the face of dispute?

Positive Conflict in the Workplace

The concept of positive conflict in the workplace doesn’t necessarily mean the conflict itself is good, but rather that gains can be made from the disagreement between two employees. When stress and conflict in the workplace are managed properly, formerly frustrated coworkers can walk away with newfound strength, and so can the company. Here are some benefits to positive conflict in the workplace:

Sparks Innovation

Conflict isn’t necessarily your preferred route to innovation, but it can be the stimulus your team has been needing. Conflict often asks us to step outside of our normal thinking parameters and try on a new perspective. This alone can open up new possibilities and ideas that may have otherwise remained dormant. This is one reason it’s so important to effectively learn how to resolve misunderstandings in the workplace.

Inspires Internal Growth

Similarly to innovation, conflict can help management or the team itself take on new improvements, the need for which may never have been realized without conflict. Disputes inherently challenge the status quo, so if you can find the hidden message in the conflict at hand, there might be something worth learning about how to optimize your workplace culture. Examples of positive conflict in the workplace that can be helpful may include miscommunication highlighting an ineffective workflow or employees who feel excluded and call for more diversity.

Builds Stronger Bonds

Disagreeing at work doesn’t have to ruin a good relationship. It may seem counterproductive at first, but conflict can strengthen interpersonal connection. If managed correctly, parties involved in the conflict may begin to lower their defenses and start to empathize with each other. In proper conflict resolution management, employees can be supported in working together toward a solution that may help them discover they have more in common than they thought.

Improves Job Satisfaction

If disagreements are handled effectively rather than punitively or worse, ignored altogether, employees may start to recognize they have more of a voice than they originally thought. In other words, an employee who felt powerless may have been holding on to resentments and frustrations when all they needed to do was speak up and let their perspective be known. By effectively handling conflict that arises on your team, you can empower employees to utilize effective communication strategies and let them know you’re listening. Effective communication coaching can also include how to handle things when they don’t always go your way.

Managing conflict at work doesn’t have to be a scary task with an assumed negative outcome. When stress and conflict in the workplace are managed the right way, all kinds of unexpected growth can come about. So make sure you have the tools you need to effectively handle these situations and turn negative tension into positive conflict in the workplace. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to ensure your team has the right tools and support.


Vanessa Rose

Vanessa Rose is a psychotherapist and writer who enjoys wandering aimlessly around Los Angeles in her free time. With a background in business, she embraces how structure and goals can significantly support the journey into the wild west of psychological exploration. Always curious about self-improvement and emotional expansion, Vanessa also… MORE >

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