The 365 Commitment

Conflict is Good

A productive team embraces and resolves conflict.

Most my life I tried to avoid conflict. It was not until I got married did I realize that I was not going to be able to always avoid conflict. Like it or not, my wife was going to force me to reconcile the culture I had become accustomed to with hers. This is not a bad thing, although it felt that way at the time. This is at the core of why my relationship with my wife has been good, she was insistent that we work out issues. That spurred conflict which made me uncomfortable. I remember the exact moment when I realized that this conflict with my wife was not a bad thing. I always avoided it, or ran away from it, but I finally came the conclusion to face conflict.

I started to adopt that attitude in other areas. I had developed a passive agressive way of dealing with work problems. I still do that, but more in a joking matter than a normal course. I made a deliberate change and after quite sometime I was able to alter my behaviour. Now, when I sense conflict I drag it out and expose it. When I sense it. Often times I do not, but when I do, I am careful to call it out and shed light on the topic. I have noticed that there are many people that are like me when I grew up. Conflict avoidance is common.

The agreeable nature is the way people view “being nice.” To be pleasant, to pass superfical pleasentries rather then any thing brash. Calling out an issue would be too forcefull and I have seen work colleagues actually cringe. They react in an adverse way anytime a source of conflict sees the light. People raised in this tradition will refer to anyone that causes conflict in a negative way. They will try to quiet them done. Ignore them. Stop asking them to meetings and definitely will not promote them.

Interesting enough, my wife is not the only woman that I know that is open with identifying conflict. This seems to be a trait shared among mothers? Raising children, raising husbands, requires getting to the heart of the matter. There is not enough hours in the day to tip toe around someone’s hurt feelings. What is wrong? Lets get this out and get it resolved so we can move on. I have come to the conclusion that his is actually a good thing. The “agreeable” people got ahead by being super polite. They learned to repeat back instructions and to always be respectful. These are all awesome traits, but that does not mean conflict is bad.

Grappling with and resolving conflict is a trademark of successful, high performance teams. Agreeableness is good too, but for me, I had to accept that conflict was even better. Conflict moves people past issues, helps determine the cause behind points of view. Conflict resolution builds bonds between people, which is why I love my wife more than ever. We have grown together through conflict and not by avoiding it.

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