It is often difficult for a company to acknowledge that conflict exists in their organization

It is often difficult for a company to acknowledge that conflict exists in their organization. We may admit to issues or difficulties, concerns or even problems, but to use the word “conflict” seems intimidating.

It doesn’t have to be. Conflict is a difference, pure and simple. That difference can be of wants, needs, or expectations. It happens when you want to get on with the meeting and your colleagues want to chat about their weekend activities. It happens when you’ve got a full agenda for the day and your boss gives you a new assignment that needs your attention immediately. And it happens when you find out you didn’t get an anticipated promotion. Your assumptions or expectations don’t match the other person’s assumptions or expectations – and you’ve got conflict.

Of course, not all conflicts are equal in intensity. Some differences that we have with others simply aren’t very meaningful to us. At other times, our expectations clash with someone else’s expectations, and this clash impacts us in a significant way. But, rest assured, conflict, in some form or other, is a part of every relationship.

The question really isn’t whether or not conflict exists, the question is in what we do about it. Conflict can be destructive and debilitating. This is the way most of us think about conflict. But it doesn’t have to be.

Conflict really is dynamic. It contains the potential for destruction but it also contains the potential for creation. Consider the oyster. That tiny grain of sand that finds its way into the oyster’s shell is an irritant. But what does the oyster do with that irritant? It transforms that grain of sand into a pearl. Conflict is like that grain of sand. It can be an irritant. But the possibility of new ideas, innovative solutions, and stronger relationships is also there in every conflict. The key is responding to conflict appropriately and intentionally.

Organizations shouldn’t be afraid to acknowledge that they experience conflict. It’s a fact of life. And, if your company doesn’t have any conflict, you’re missing out on some amazing opportunities!

For ongoing information, tips and advice about dealing with conflict at work, check out Gayle and Nabil’s free newsletter at

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