Sometimes conflict cannot be avoided and that is not a bad thing. When you and your team or you and a colleague resolve a conflict together, you build a better working relationship. When I say to you, Dont give in without a fight; I dont mean go have an ugly nasty altercation. I mean dont just back down when you have a disagreement, dont avoid a healthy debate and dont give in because it feels easier or you think it is the peaceful thing to do. It isnt the peaceful thing to do, because YOU wont feel peace and neither will your team. You will feel resigned, annoyed, tired, frustrated, put upon, angry; do any of these sound peaceful to you?
How do you choose your battles? When do you engage in conflict vs. just letting it go? Consider the following:
- The issue at stake is NOT trivial. Do not let important issues or conflicts remain unresolved or get resolved without your input. Especially if you have expertise or information that needs to be considered before a resolution is reached.
- The right people to come up with a solution are in the room together right now and you know that once everyone walks away the issue will not be resolved.
- The health and well being of an individual or group of individuals is at stake. This could mean actual physical well being or the business interests of a specific group or key customer.
- Someone is trying to bully the group into accepting an approach that is unreasonable and potentially detrimental.
- You are the right person to facilitate a resolution. You are the leader or you possess the skills to steer the team through the conflict. If so, step up and step in!
There are absolutely times when turning your back on a conflict is the wrong move and is worse than being perceived as confrontational. There are times when it is your responsibility to engage in conflict. In these situations to avoid the conflict is to shirk your responsibility. You are not going to do THAT, right?
Be prepared to identify the conflicts that require you to step in and proactively participate. You can make this easier on yourself by preparing yourself ahead of time. One way to prepare is to know how you want to behave when you are in the middle of conflict, in other words, how to have a fair fight.