When I check out the search terms that have landed people here, I see an increasing number of "conflict" and "conflict at work" searches.
I've met people who claim that they like conflict. I really don't think so.
They might like competition; they might like winning; but the idea of liking conflict in and of itself seems unhealthy at best and perhaps evil at worst. And since none of these
Well, we know it when we feel it, don't we?
Wikipedia has a lot of entires, info, and resources. They also offer here what I believe are good definitions and discernment of different types of conflict:
Definition: "When two or
more parties, with perceived incompatible goals, seek to undermine each
other's goal-seeking capability".
A clash of interests, values, actions or directions often sparks a conflict. Conflicts refer to the existence of that clash. Psychologically, a conflict exists when the reduction of one motivating stimulus involves an increase in another, so that a new adjustment is demanded. The word is applicable from the instant that the clash occurs. Even when we say that there is a potential conflict we are implying that there is already a conflict of direction even though a clash may not yet have occurred.
What Does This Mean In Real Life?
Let's look at it this way:
1. Competitive conflict. We are at odds about the "what" question. "What" we want to do will diminish the other person's chance of success if we succeed.
2. Cooperative conflict. Now there's an oxymoron. This one is about the "how" question. "How" you want to do something conflicts with how I want to do it, or think it should be done.
These are classic because they reflect the ongoing tension between goals (what) and process (how).
3. Values conflict. An action or direction violates "who" we are at our core.
What Can You Do?(The examples below assume that those involved are people of good will).
Competitive conflict calls for the possibility of re-defining each others' goals. This is the notion of "win-win." It requires honesty about why you are trying to achieve something. Until you understand each other's "why" the "what" will seem conflicting and self-serving. It calls for a willingness to have a conversation that exposes each person's vulnerabilities. Someone has to go first. If your conflict is about the "what," then why not go first? Heck, you're already in conflict anyway. What do you have to lose?
Cooperative conflict. This is where the control freak managers lurk in organizations.
Stay with me here.
I can't state this strongly enough. Job satisfaction and personal motivation are closely tied to one's ability to bring one's uniqueness to the task or team. When we sign on for a job, we implicitly are saying that we pretty much agree with the goals of the organization. What we want to do is "ply our craft." And that uniqueness comes in "how" we are allowed to perform the job to achieve the goals. A manager who has gotten commitment to the "what" and then wants to be involved in everyone's "how" is killing his people's spirit and undermining the talent that they offer. (Note: certain jobs focused on safety and security do not leave room for personal creativity. I have often hoped that the pilot flying my plane was not feeling in a very creative mood that day).
What to do? Gotta have another conversation. Explain that the over-management is doing two things:
a. It is taking time away from you actually doing the job.
b. It is getting in the way of your ability to stay committed to what your boss wants to accomplish.
Then ask about your results. If you have a wrong perception of how you are doing, this is the time to get it on the table. If your boss tells you your results are good, then your boss will hopefully have an Aha! moment regarding your contributions.
The worst that can happen? You'll find out sooner, rather than later, that this isn't a place you want to be over the long run.
3. Values conflict. When asked to do something that violates your beliefs, you're about to experience a personal growth moment. Do you know why you believe what you believe? If you aren't sure, this is a primo time to find out.
Did you find out that your value wasn't really a value at all, or not in the way that you thought? Then maybe you can re-consider the request.
Your value is rock-solid? Then "no" is the only answer of integrity.
Conflict and Forgiveness
You may not be able to resolve the conflict, whatever it is. But how you respond will determine your
Bitterness and self-justification will kill you from the inside out. You can't live well and help others if you are filled with bitterness. Life isn't fair. But