We have all, I suppose, heard of “constructive conflict”. Do you think it exists? When was the last time you had some “constructive conflict”? Did you feel as though you were in conflict with others? It has been said that when you have more than one person in an organization, disagreements are inevitable. Therefore, the saying follows, conflict is inevitable, and since conflict is inevitable, you might as well make most of whatever conflict occurs as constructive as you can. Sounds familiar?
I don’t beg to differ here. I differ greatly. Disagreements may occur, but it does not follow that conflict is the inevitable result. How are they different? Simple. Conflicts occur when self-interest takes precedence. Where disagreements happen, but all parties involved are seeking a higher goal, there are no conflicts, there are discussions. There is deep and appreciative listening. There is openness to feedback, to points of view that show aspects of a situation we might not have perceived or not been aware of. There is patience in explaining our own points of view to others with the intention to elucidate and not simply assert.
As we enter 2014, you might like to just determine to keep this one thing always before your eyes. And don’t be fooled by nebulous terms like “constructive conflict”.