Real conflict in the workplace is intense.  For example -“Hey, you screwed me over by making that decision!“ Or how about, “I doubt this company truly wants to grow based on that decision.”

I recently have been employed by a really large company.  Have had the pleasure of coaching this business through TEAM Building workshops for the past 18 months.  It has been a profound experience for the most part in the fact that they were vulnerable with one another and really optimistic with the idea that they could be open and honest with one another moving forward.

We’ve done lots of different exercises, including circling up and giving “live” 360 feedbacks with one another.  Each person has an opportunity to sit in front of the rest of the TEAM in a circle.  Their associates took turns giving the person in front feedback like”¦ “Suzy what I want to see more of is insert really positive feedback here.  And what I would like to see less of insert something they need to work on here.“  For which the recipient would just say”¦Thank you. This exercise demonstrated incredible vulnerability.  And tightened the TEAM instantly.

So you can imagine the feelings being hurt when one of the TEAM Members felt betrayed, or stepped on.  The WHOLE program became a farce.  They called B.S. on their sincerity and allegiance to the first team. Where I go with them in this instance is asking the following question “What is here now?” By asking that I am basically asking them to “check in” with what feelings are present. Mad, sad, glad, fear or shame?

Why which feeling?  Because it will bring their drama to a standstill momentarily.  Give them an opportunity to see where they are, instead of projecting all over the other person. Usually they can initially get to just one of the feelings, like anger, or maybe fear. 

“I am feeling angry because you said we were going to do this project and I had to find out from someone else that you changed your mind and vetoed it.”  When I press them I can get them to see more”¦ “And I am feeling fear because I really worry about the growth of this company and where we are going.”  If time allows I can help them see even more.  For example, “I guess I am feeling sadness because we are in the middle of building a really strong team and now I am not sure I can trust you anymore.”

In the case of this particular example I was fortunate enough to get the colleague to see that there was also joy present because we were able to have this open and transparent conversation”¦for which “up until now” did not exist.

Conflict”¦good healthy conflict is the cement to all good relationships.  It squashes the artificial harmony that exists with teams that do not trust each other.

Mine for it and your team will prosper.