Conflict is a natural part of working with others. It is how this conflict is dealt with that will determine whether it will impact the relationship or workplace in a helpful or damaging way.

Conflicts usually involve one or more of the following:
·         Differences in, ideas, opinions, goals, actions, beliefs or actions
·         Power imbalance
·         Need(s) of party(s) are not being met

The goal is to resolve these differences in positive ways that:
·         Respect all parties
·         Consider multiple perspectives and possibilities
·         Value the legitimate needs of everyone involved

Such a process can result in solutions or decisions that are creative and innovative. Decision-making and problem-solving is enhanced when differences are used to generate and expand the possible avenues for action.

“Conflict is a normal, inevitable feature of organizations.  Conflict is neither good nor bad.  How people deal with conflict determines whether conflict helps or hinders the organization.”
 -- G. Walker, Advanced Leadership Corvallis Training, March 1997

Conflict management is the process of limiting the negative aspects of conflict while increasing the positive aspects of conflict. Conflict that is well managed can produce positive effects in working relationships and eliminate the negative effects of escalated conflict.

When conflict is left unmanaged, it can, on occasion, also take on a life of its own, drawing in other people or departments. If the conflict grows - people, departments and the institution - all pay the price of deteriorating mental health and wellness as well as work performance. In very extreme circumstances it can lead to workplace violence.

Managed Conflict

Out-of-Control Conflict

Strengthens relationships and builds teamwork

Damages relationships and discourages cooperation

Encourages open communication and cooperative problem-solving

Results in defensiveness and hidden agendas

Resolves disagreements quickly and increases productivity

Wastes time, money and human resources

Deals with real issues and concentrates on win-win resolution

Focuses on fault-finding and blaming

Makes allies and diffuses anger

Creates enemies and hard feelings

Airs all sides of an issue in a positive, supportive environment

Is frustrating, stress producing and energy draining

Calms and focuses toward results

Is often loud, hostile and chaotic