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For someone looking to accomplish something or make a change, the answer is that conflict is always good. That is because conflict is an essential part of the change process.

Things are the way they are because they have come to rest there. They will continue to rest in that manner until some force drives they to a different state. The basic definition of conflict is the incompatibility of one idea or act with another. The resolution of that incompatibility or interference will result in a change.

That may sound crazy, but it is 100% true. The outcome of the conflict is a different story. Outcomes from poorly handled conflict can be devastating. On the other hand, outcomes from well managed conflict can hugely beneficial, profitable, and productive.

To understand why that makes sense, we'll first need to understand what conflict is. Then we can discuss some time-tested approaches to managing conflict. Then, we can understand how to OPTIMIZE OUTCOMES from conflicts encounter.

Academia teaches us there are five different approaches for dealing with conflict. The good ones also teach us that not all ways of dealing with conflict achieve the same type of results. Here is what I remember from my learnings.

Conflict Management Approaches:

  • Competition (us against them) has a winner and a loser
  • Collaboration (we work together for mutual benefit) and both of us reach our goals
  • Accommodation (we give them what they what) and we walk away empty handed
  • Avoidance (we avoid the situation) and so don't go where we are likely to face conflict.
  • Compromise (we give them something and they give us something) both of sides walk away with a partial win/partial loss.

Conflict Management Approach Outcomes:

  • Collaboration = both sides win
  • Compromise = both sides get something while giving something else up
  • Competition = one side gets 100% success to their benefit, the other gets nothing
  • Accommodation  = you meet the other side's needs and get nothing
  • Avoidance = The outcome is determined without your input and/or participation

Possessing a solid knowledge of the different approaches (as well as the outcomes those approaches achieve)  is a powerful thing. It allows you to do something my military mentors called "Preparing the Battlefield".

In preparing the battlefield, you choose where, when and how you will engage your opponents. This allows you to take advantage of your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses while exploit your opponents' weaknesses and avoiding conflict in his areas of strength.

If you were tracking that last paragraph well, you realized I provide one of the few times when avoidance is a useful conflict management approach. That time is any occasion when you don't mind not getting your goal and do ind losing what your stand to lose.

The Bottom Line: Proper Approach = Good Conflict Outcome

If you prepare your battlefields, you have the ability  to make all conflict good. It will at  least be good for you, your team, and/or your business). In this case, preparing the battle field is done by choosing a conflict management approaches properly that fits the situation you are preparing to face.

They match up as follows. Use them when:

  • Collaboration - when it is important that both sides succeed
  • Compromise - when both sides need some level of success but can accept some loss
  • Competition - when you must succeed & can't compromise or collaborate
  • Avoidance - when the cost of conflict is higher than the benefit or when delay helps
  • Accommodation - when potential loss is trivial & you stand to gain in the future

Words to the wise:  Be sure you know the true cost of conflict, the real value of your goals, and the probability of  impending change before you do what can not be undone.

I will likely not make a post tomorrow (Friday). So until next time...send me your thoughts on the topic and any other content you'd like me to produce.

Peace out!

- Seth J Haigh
seth@managetogrow.com
Originally posted at www.managetogrow.com/blog

 

 

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