Many leaders spend their workdays putting out fires and reacting to whatever conflict comes their way rather than trying to prevent it. They also tend to focus on superficial issues rather than addressing the underlying situation. Think about the last time you had a disagreement with someone at work. What was it about? Did you fix it? Did it go away permanently? Ask yourself the following questions as you discover what you can learn from conflict in the workplace.
- What is this conflict really about?
- What am I feeling inside and where does that come from?
- Do I really care about the superficial issue or is it really about something else?
- What is it about me that compels me to fight about this?
- What do I need to do to fix this situation with the other person?
When you ask yourself questions like these you begin the process of understanding yourself. It is this self-awareness that helps you figure out who you are at a deeper level and practice positive behaviors that help you and others succeed. The idea is to make sure that your own stuff isn't creating or adding to the conflict.
We spend so much time fighting about things that are only the tip of the real problem that lies below. Think about it next time you get angry or upset and ask yourself, "Am I really mad about an employee doing something incorrectly or is it really because of something going on inside me?"
Once you figure out what's really going on you can begin doing the important work to actually improve your workplace interactions and reduce conflict permanently. More importantly, you'll be practicing how to not become part of the problem. How will you learn from workplace conflict?