Can conflict be positive? Does one person have to win?

That’s a mix of people strategy right there isn’t it?

I’ve had some fascinating conversations and read articles in the last week that have made me focus on these themes and their inter-relationship within the workplace. I’d like to share some of my thoughts with you. They may not all be fully formed thoughts……….. but I’d encourage your input into the conversation.

The article from the Human Resources world-renowned guru Dave Ulrich:

followed a conversation I had with a local development specialist with not only a fascinating life story but a real grasp of positive conflict

Whilst talking to Sven, he encouraged me to look at conflict positively. He talks about energy, negotiating and not letting go of your fundamental core values. This is what chimed so well with Dave Ulrich’s article helping us recognise what we really believe in and identify what we really want in the long term. When you focus on what truly makes you tick, your connection with others becomes very powerful, if you can help them identify what truly matters to them too.

Each of these topics could take days of writing in their own right. Throw in a little Brene Browne:

Dare To Lead

and you have some powerful messages to focus upon. All leading back to true values and understanding what matters to you.

So where do Quality Conversations fit in?

Those who work with me regularly will know that I have a strong view on the term “Difficult Conversations”. My personal view point is that if we expect a conversation to be difficult, it will, naturally live up to that expectation and become “difficult”. Therefore our behaviour and demeanour will reflect our expectation, we will potentially over plan, or at the very least become either defensive or adversarial in our approach, probably unconsciously.

I prefer to call these conversations “Quality Conversations”, because we only have them due to their importance. So, let’s frame them positively, plan for them appropriately and ensure our focus and theirs is to make the meeting count. That does require us to identify the positive outcomes we are aiming for as a result.

However, how do we ensure we have genuine quality conversations if we don’t understand our fears, virtues and values, or those of the other person? They become superficial conversations concentrating on how people act rather than concentrating on what they believe. I have been known to refer to myself as a “sensible rebel”. Why do I rebel? Do I rebel or do I question?

Questioning is a positive trait. Being inquisitive or “staying curious” are popular traits when asking about individual values (or virtues) now. We try and teach children to question so that they learn. We know this can be a source of irritation, but we understand it is part of learning. Sometimes we don’t give people enough space to question, and so they act in a way we interpret as “rebellious” or not playing by the rules. By asking questions ourselves, about why people act in certain ways and what really matters to them, we may well find a deeper connection and meaning that enables us to work more effectively together by creating a way in which our values can mesh together to deliver work effectively without compromising the fundamental values of either person. This requires an open mind from both individuals, but if discussions are framed to meet a positive outcome, why wouldn’t we want everyone to feel valued at work?

I hope you find the references above interesting, even if they lead you to question further. This is my interpretation of conversations. Yours may be different, but wouldn’t that lead to an interesting quality conversation of its own?

Next time we will look at virtues v values………..