Conflict is inevitable in even the best workplaces. When people see things differently, have competing agendas, or are not in total accord regard decisions, conflict occurs. While is conflict inevitable, it is not necessarily bad. Healthy conflict can create better outcomes, more productive business practices, and even stronger relationships.
The key term is “healthy.” When conflict is not handled appropriately, we can experience negative outcomes both organizationally and relationally. It is the fear of negative outcomes that can keep some professionals in conflict “avoidance” mode. They seek to placate or to create peace at any price. Or, they will avoid conflict all together or stay silent while others engage. While choosing your battles carefully is sound career advice, it can be a poor choice to rarely (or even never) engage in constructive or healthily conflict.
You might be stalling your career success if you rarely speak up or defend your point of view. Here are some of the possible consequences for choosing to rarely (on never) rock the boat or engage in conflict:
- You may be seen as lacking backbone and not ready to take on more responsibility.
- You may be viewed as someone who is not engaged or doesn’t really care.
- Your co-workers may resent that you don’t seem to care or are not committed.
- Your leader may assume you can’t see the big picture and are not ready to be promoted.
- Your reputation as someone who is weak or a pushover may may it harder to accomplish tasks.
- You may be viewed as someone who is not a team player.
- You might seethe with inner resentment that can come out passive-aggressivley and damage your career.
- Crucial issues, problems, or situations may be ignored and you may be held accountable.
These are just some of the negative consequences. Feel free to leave others in the comments.
Savvy professionals know that some things are worth engaging in conflict over. And, they hone their assertive conflict management skills to make engaging in healthy conflict easier and more productive. Remember, choose your battles wisely AND be willing to engage when it is worth it!