Join Craig Runde for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding the value of conflict competence, part of Improving Your Conflict Competence.
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- Improving your conflict competence takes work. It requires practice and discipline to acquire and enhance necessary skills. To make the commitment needed to succeed people need to believe that the payback is worth it. In this video, we're going to explore the personal cost of poorly managed conflict, investigate the organizational costs, and consider the rewards of conflict competence. First, let's look at the personal cost of poorly managed conflict.
Research has shown that conflict can cause stress which in turn can lead to both physical and psychological health problems. When you have difficulties with conflict do you feel stress? Most people do and this affects their lives at home and at work. Sometimes things can get so bad that people actually stay away from work or even leave their jobs. Think about some of the personal costs of conflict for you and make a note in the exercise file worksheet.
Let's explore how conflict creates organizational costs. When employees experience stress-related health concerns, it can increase medical insurance premiums for the employee and the employer. When people stay home to avoid a conflict it creates a drain on productivity. When employees leave a job, the cost of recruiting, training, and bringing a replacement up to speed can easily exceed the annual salary of the former employee.
How often have you seen problems like these that have been caused by poorly managed conflict? If you're like most people the answer is frequently. Poorly managed conflict decreases productivity. In addition to absenteeism, people spend time thinking and worrying about a conflict rather than focusing on their regular work. They talk or complain to others about the conflict which can add to the wasted time. Destructive conflict can also decrease creativity and the quality of decision making.
People tend to talk less to those with whom they are in conflict. And this lessens your chances of coming up with new solutions or vetting decision options. When people talk about less issues, creativity is impaired because fewer ideas are shared. You lose the benefit of one idea prompting a second. When people pull back from conflict, they also stop vetting decision options. This can lead to poorer quality decisions.
In extreme cases, workplace conflict can lead to more serious outcomes including lawsuits, vandalism or even violence. Fortunately, these problems are not as common. But when they do occur, they can be very costly and can create bad publicity. Take a moment to note down the organizational costs of poorly managed conflict that you have actually seen or experienced. Now, let's review some of the benefits of conflict competence.
When people are able to talk openly and honestly about their differences, they're often able to come up with better solutions to both personal and organizational problems. When communications are free flowing new ideas can be generated that benefit all parties involved. Decisions can be debated and vetted to ensure they're sound. If people are able to work through mutual problems, their relationships can also be improved. People can stay focused on the problem and less time worrying about the issue or complaining about the conflict to others.
Think back to a time when you experienced positive conflict outcomes and write down the benefits you experienced. Conflict competence doesn't eliminate all stress associated with conflicts. However, it does provide you with greater self-confidence in your ability to manage the uncertainties inherent in conflict. It does this by approving your ability to manage yourself. You can't control the reactions of other people. Yet, by improving your ability to manage your emotions and to respond with effective communications behaviors.
You can influence the direction of the conflict and increase the chances of a positive outcome.