8 Tips for Handling Healthy Conflict

8 Tips for Handling Healthy Conflict

Conflict: A big word with big connotations. Studies show managers waste 6 to 8 weeks per year dealing with conflict. Many people hear the word conflict and picture a battle of some sort. I have learned through living that you can be soft and still be heard, you can be kind to get your point across and you do not have to be a bully to resolve a problem to your liking.

Handling Healthy Conflict in the Workplace

It is very important to understand that conflict can indeed be healthy in terms of relationships and team building. Healthy conflict is the constructive debate of ideas. In the workplace, an environment where team members can speak their truths in a responsible way and present their points of view without the fear of hostility or resentment encourages constructive conflict.


I would like to share the story of two partners in a company that debated financial considerations for over a year. Both had similar and different ideas about how the finances should look yet one of them had a final point that she needed clarity around. Because they had come so far in their negotiations and the other felt that a mutually satisfying agreement had been met, she was reluctant to bring up the final point and sat on it for several months. When she finally brought it to the table, they were able to engage in this conflict constructively and eventually reach agreement. In the process, trust continued to grow and the relationship expanded beyond what they thought possible simply because the conflict had been addressed in a constructive and kind manner. It turned out better than both imagined because they were courageous enough to continue to engage.

How can you move from fear to possibility when engaging in conflict? How can you be tough on the problem at hand while still giving grace to the person?

  • Tip 1: Don’t take it personally. Consider the personality style of the person you are talking with in that moment.
  • Tip 2: Collect all necessary data so you have the facts to back you up. This can help keep emotions out of the conversation.
  • Tip 3: Sit on it to defuse any upset.
  • Tip 4: Make sure your head is in a good place first.
  • Tip 5: Listen before responding.
  • Tip 6: Repeat back for clarity.
  • Tip 7: Understand the person you are talking with and consider their perspective.
  • Tip 8: Be courageous. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

In the Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team program, we learn that engaging in healthy conflict is essential to team growth and development. The foundation of vulnerability trust is needed before one can engage in the discussion and healthy debate around ideas. If viewed with the right perspective, conflict can be a source of both enlightenment and transformation.

Be courageous. Practice using the 8 tips for moving from fear to possibility. Engage in a vigorous debate of ideas. We look forward to hearing all the good things that come out of these conversations.


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