July 28, 2016
About the author : Ben Martin is a research and business development associate at Thera Rising Intenational. He also delivers seminars and oversees digital development.
In ten-plus years of working at Thera Rising, I’ve heard about two responses to telling someone I work in workplace conflict resolution. One is, “Wow, we could use you where I work!” The other is, “But isn’t conflict good?”
The short answer to that question is, “Well, yes. Kind of. But a lot of the time, not really.” I know, that’s a horrible answer. The better answer is longer, but it’s deeply important for anyone who’s ever had a job. Or really, any human relationship.
Some conflict, like honest difference of opinion, is a normal, healthy part of daily life. It might be painful at times, but it leads to growth, understanding, and reconciliation. This is usually what people are talking about when they say conflict is good.
However, sometimes conflict can turn corrosive. This usually happens when people lack the skills or information they need to handle conflict constructively, or when longstanding resentments or deep-seated insecurities are at play. As these conflicts escalate, bystanders find themselves pulled (often unwittingly) into factions: tight-knit groups dedicated to self-preservation though undermining outsiders and other factions. These competing factions perpetuate and escalate the problem, dividing loyalties and tearing teams apart.
Those of us who have been in this kind of situation can probably attest that no, this kind of conflict isn’t good. Not for employees, not for supervisors, not for clients, and not for profits.
OK, that’s a little depressing. Luckily, that’s not the takeaway. The real upshot is that we as individuals have the final say how conflicts unfold around us. To paraphrase Einstein, it just takes “a touch of genius and a lot of courage.”
Before she founded Thera Rising, Anna Maravelas worked at a hospital as an internal organizational development professional. While there, she became the “go-to” person when conflict affected productivity and relationships.
After years of rushing from hotspot to hotspot, Anna realized something. These conflicts became destructive when well-meaning people made simple missteps. Not only that, the mistakes were predictable and they were avoidable.
That insight became the center of Anna’s practice when she founded Thera Rising. Our goal isn’t to eliminate conflict. Instead, our methods build conflict competence within teams and organizations.
This doesn’t mean forcing consensus or feel-good thinking. It means equipping individuals to spot and avoid the behaviors that cause conflict to become destructive. The honest disagreement stays an honest disagreement. It never threatens cohesiveness or productivity, and that saves everyone a lot of time and a lot of heartache.
That’s our purpose at Thera Rising. And that’s the purpose of this blog: helping people become conflict-savvy by building conflict competence. Whether you find yourself in high-functioning environments or those racked with drama and mistrust, these skills will help you survive and thrive at work and in your personal relationships.
Our Conflict IQ articles will bring you short, sweet insights and strategies you can immediately put to use at work and at home. The Science explores the cutting-edge research behind these methods. Case Studies and White Papers will give in-depth looks at these principles in action. And don’t forget to check out the Conflict Competence Glossary to brush up on key concepts and sharpen your conflict competence skills!
Make sure to follow our blog for tips and strategies you can put to use at work and at home. You can learn more about developing and leveraging conflict competence at our website or at one of our seminars.
Thank you for joining us. See you soon!
LinkedIn: Ben Martin