'Conflict' Doesn't Have To Be A Bad Word

There are plenty of unpleasant synonyms for the word 'conflict'.  Words like -  "argument"; “confrontation"; “clash”; “disruption”; “struggle”; “combat”; “fray”.  None of them really paint the picture of a good day.  But, consider this.

One of the most overlooked opportunities for positive change, is conflict.  Conflict can be leveraged so that it becomes a platform to strengthen relationships instead of erode them.

Conflict has the potential to facilitate much needed change and fundamental growth.  The very presence of conflict let’s us know that something is not as it should be.  More importantly, it let’s us know where changes need to be made.  Changes that are probably long overdue.    

Because of the immediate impact that conflict can bring to our day-to-day harmony and comfort zones, we have a tendency to focus our communication efforts towards putting out the fire, and less on preventing one from happening again.  

Extinguishing the fire is obviously critical, but resolving a problem won't keep another from occurring. 

Most of us don’t pay attention to underlying issues or problems until they make their way to the surface; until we’re forced to address them. 

When does conflict become a positive occurrence? 

When Risk Impacts Our Confidence

Have you ever experienced that long, regret-filled walk back to your desk after a meeting; the one where you kick yourself repeatedly because of all the things you didn't say during the meeting.  

You beat yourself up for the rest of the day; on your way home from work; while you're eating dinner. Giving yourself one last mental beat down while you brush your teeth before bed.

You replay the moment a hundred times in your mind. Each time creating a different, more courageous version of yourself, than the one that actually showed up at the meeting. A version where you're saying all of the things you could have potentially said then, but didn't.

If any of the above struck a nerve, don't worry. These moments are supposed to happen, because we're human. 

On the other hand, you might want to consider panicking if you see similarities between yourself and Milton Waddams; the guy from the movie "Office Space" with the Coke bottle glasses, who let Lumberg take his red stapler.

As for me..I tend to base my communication decisions; the opinions that I will or won't share, on SWOT analysis.  The more risk I perceive once I've assessed the moment, the less likely I am to share what I'm really thinking.

Do You Have Brand Capital?

When you’re standing in the pain reliever aisle of your local drugstore looking for something to get rid of the pounding headache you’ve had since before lunch, do you reach for the name brand stuff or the generic, significantly cheaper version of the name brand stuff? 

Generic drugs are required by the FDA to have the same effectiveness (dosage, active ingredients, strength, etc.) as their brand-name counterpart.   In other words, whether you purchase Tylenol or the CVS brand of acetaminophen, you should feel the same type of relief of your symptoms from either medicine. 

Why would anyone make the conscious decision to spend more of their hard-earned money to buy something they could have for much less, when they don’t have to?  

It's because our experiences with the brand and what we believe to be true about it, is what we consider above all else.

Some Four Letter Words Belong At Work

If you’re at all like me, there have been times when you’ve been at work...sitting at your desk...staring at your computer screen...and wondering what exactly it was that you were supposed to be doing.  What’s even better is the fact that just minutes before, you were sitting in an hour-long meeting that was scheduled specifically to outline how to do exactly what it is that you still don’t know how to do.

It’s perfectly okay not to understand something after it was initially explained to you.  It doesn’t make you less capable, promotable, or competent than your peers and co-workers.  It makes you human. There’s no error in that.  I do think however, that we error when we don’t ask for HELP.  As unoriginal and intuitive as the idea seems, many of us are terrified at the very thought.  Some of us would probably choose public speaking over telling our peers or manager that we don't know what we're doing.

Not asking for help or further explanation is not communicating at a time when it’s critical to do so...and more importantly, not communicating proactively.

There’s a stigma when it comes to asking for help within the context of the work place.  We're afraid of being looked down upon by our boss or co-workers, and would rather save face than admit that we don’t understand something.  Why?  We're afraid of losing credibility.  We're afraid of losing our sense of autonomy.  Some of us worry that asking for help will negatively impact the perception our managers and peers have of us, simply because we may need a few extra minutes of their time.

Everyone Deserves A Chance, Even Your Boss

Have you ever left a company, transferred, or just flat out quit a job because of a not-so-great relationship with your manager? Do you call your best friend, significant other, or anybody willing to listen to you vent about your boss day after day; the moment you get off of work?  Do you find yourself re-routing the walk to your desk the moment you spot your boss; hoping to miss out on an interaction with them?

It's been said that employees don't leave companies, they leave managers.  So...if any of my questions struck a chord or two, it's alright.  You're not alone.  But, I want to ask you just one more question.  

Have you ever had at least one honest conversation with your boss to discuss how you feel?  I realize it's a pretty radical idea, and such an action could have catastrophic results.  But, just stay with me for a few more paragraphs.

Everyone vents or complains to co-workers, family members, and friends about their bosses.   Nothing wrong with that.  Getting things off of your chest is always better than allowing them to sit and fester. Not to mention seeking feedback from a third-party; someone that can be provide objective input, is a great way to ensure that you’re evaluating the situation from all angles...not just your own.