Skip to main content

When it comes to dealing with the uncomfortable things in life—fears, threats, stressors—our “fight-or-flight response” is often triggered. We hear this phrase a lot, but it is indeed a real physiological phenomenon; something deep in our nervous system that urges us to either prepare for battle (fight) or run as fast as our legs can carry us from a sticky situation (flight).

Conflict, in any relationship we engage in, but particularly in the workplace, is certainly one of those uncomfortable parts of life. However, it seems that most people choose to simply avoid or delay, in the workplace/ So, we are talking about a “no-fight-only-flight response” here.

To most of us, catching a cold or losing your phone sounds preferable to addressing conflict with a colleague, but why?

Because conflict stirs up emotions that we would much rather not feel in the workplace; it makes us feel anxious, it makes us feel angry, and it makes us feel vulnerable. Finding a productive way through these emotions at work is not only a challenge, but it can also be quite painful. So it is no wonder that so many of us avoid these interactions at all costs.

But the consequences of conflict avoidance in the workplace are very real. Conflict isn’t bad for organisations of all sizes: it’s fundamental to them, and daily avoidance can add up to dangerously high levels of resentment and either ‘false harmony’ ……smiling whilst internally combusting, or ‘destructive conflict’…….out of control, venomous communication

Put simply, unacknowledged conflict presents a huge barrier to organisational success.

So, how do we arm people and organisations with the tools to effectively engage in conflict rather than avoid it at all costs?

How can we combat our knee-jerk, instinctive inclination to avoid?

To answer this question, we should first acknowledge a commonly accepted fact: Human behaviour is incredibly complex, and when it comes to conflict, each one of us experiences it in a different way.

Some people feel that conflict, even in the workplace, is always a direct personal attack, resulting in long-lasting hurt feelings. Others see conflict as their competence being called into question, so they immediately go on the defensive. Shifting our conflict approach from avoid to engage requires a thorough, personalised approach.

One way to jump start this shift within an organisation is by acknowledging the work style differences that needlessly put distance between people (“Why is she so blunt?” or “Why is he so sceptical?”) to make room for more productive conflict aimed at solving business problems.

We are proudly authorised partners of Everything DiSC, and our ‘Productive Conflict’ solution offers organisations a way to do just that.

It’s important to note that our ‘Productive Conflict’ solution is not a conflict resolution tool. Rather a personalised insights tool, that deepens self-understanding to turn destructive behaviours into productive ones, which ultimately improves workplace relationships and results.

Using the DiSC® model, all parties will get a sense of their behavioural priorities or tendencies during conflict. Here are some examples:

Learning about your own behaviours, along with those of other styles in conflict, is like gaining access to your own personalised conflict compass, helping you navigate all sorts of conflict situations.

The Everything DiSC tool, along with our unique set of skills, provides a framework for behavioural understanding, and serves as an easy point of access for opening the door to engaging in conflict rather than avoiding it.

We see your “fight-or-flight response” and raise you a “this-is-uncomfortable-but-important-so-let’s-work-through-it response”.

Okay, it might not roll off the tongue as nicely, but your organisation’s culture will benefit from the change. Because when you make conflict feel approachable and actionable, you improve the likelihood of transforming it into something productive.

This is how we begin to make the crucial shift from avoid to engage.

© IES 2020, All Rights Reserved
Registered Company Number : 12153683
Privacy Policy