Patrick Lencioni’s conflict continuum extends from artificial harmony through to mean spirited conflict. Constructive conflict leads to a range of business benefits including: innovative outcomes; better decision making; greater engagement.
How can you foster the constructive conflict “sweet spot” along this continuum?
Start with mindset THEN skills.
- Recognise that conflict is normal (know your default approach) – get comfortably uncomfortable (reframe it – call it something different e.g. test and challenge conversation)
- Feed your growth mindset (e.g. embrace failure; acknowledge others ideas)
- Change the semantics (ie. See the person you are disagreeing with not as an opponent but someone with a different idea)
- Don’t take things personally (it is not ALL about YOU)
- Let go of needing to be liked
- Don’t equate disagreement with unkindness.
- Create “space” between the stimuli and your response (to do this well you need to know your triggers)
- Breathe – 4 + 4 + 4
- Mindfully listen
- Call for an opposing view
- Ask quality questions
- Ask specific people for their input
- Watch your “buts” e.g. I agree with you but (the other person hears “but here is why you are wrong”
- Set rules [time; approach (e.g. respectful communications)
- Seek feedback
- Take on the role of devil’s advocate (but tell people first)
- Adapt your communication style
- Notice your body language
- Focus on one issue at a time
- Withhold judgement
- Rely on data (takes the emotion out of it)
- Use detailed specific language vs generalizations
- Seek understanding not absolute agreement
- Be Humble – admit when you are wrong/if someone has a better idea than you
- Set ground rules around dissension
- Assign different roles in team e.g. someone looks at the scenario from the customers sided or GM or Constituent Councils or employees
- Use agreement techniques (use a hand as a likert scale) or scoring techniques (e.g. thumbs up/down)