Can Conflict Be Good?

Can Conflict Be Good

{3.06 minutes to read}  

Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” – Karen Kaiser Clark

Many people, when in conflict, see it as something bad and unsettling, and indeed, it can be. Alternatively, conflict can often be good. How can this be so?

There are 2 sides to conflict – one is productive and the other is unproductive. As to which of these approaches will prevail, that very much depends upon the attitude and approach of the participants.

Rigidity vs Flexibility

Conflict, in which the parties remain rigid in their positions and won’t budge from them, is not productive. This is the win/lose scenario where the winner is delighted that he’s gotten what he wants, while the loser is less than happy about the outcome.

On the other hand, conflict where the parties are willing to listen to each other and be receptive to understanding each other’s interests and needs can be very productive. That’s the win/win scenario that I’ve referred to in some of my past blog articles. This more flexible approach enables both to feel satisfied with the outcome. It also lays a solid foundation for a constructive relationship going forward.

Change is a Constant

Let’s face it: we live in a world in which our lives are very much interrelated with others and in which change can occur at an incredibly rapid pace. Change is a constant in our lives, whether we want it to be or not. As disconcerting and disruptive as change may be, there’s also a huge opportunity within change for growth and learning. And it’s this same growth and learning that can broaden our perspective and make us more receptive to adopting a win/win approach toward conflict.

It Isn’t Easy

It’s not easy to shift our approach to conflict so that we work together in a more cooperative manner. However, it is well worth the effort.

While the parties can sometimes do this on their own, it can often be helpful to have a mediator facilitate this process. One of the most important roles of the mediator is to help the parties increase their awareness of their needs/interests. This translates into more productive conversations between the parties and agreements that ultimately reflect a win/win approach.

So the next time you are faced with a conflict, don’t automatically take a combative stance.  Conflict doesn’t have to be bad. Good conflict and a constructive outcome can result when awareness, flexibility and better communications are made part of the process.

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