Remember that “Seinfeld” episode where George Costanza’s father said “serenity now” to deal with anger-provoking moments? Unfortunately, his method, as we learned later in the episode, caused him to bottle up frustration, which led to “insanity later.” That’s what came to mind when I came across a recent article from WSJ.com about fostering good conflict.!@!
In an organizational setting, the explosion from bottled-up emotions can create “organizational poisons.” It may seem easier to put on a happy face and keep your qualms to yourself rather than risk an unpleasant interpersonal situation at work. But if you’re seething inside, the fire can spread and manifest in an emotional outburst later.
Attempting to avoid conflict can also result in poor decision-making. Can you think of a time when you or a colleague made a decision based largely on the desire to avoid conflict? What did you observe as a result?
The Wall Street Journal article suggests teaching your team to engage in productive conflict. The article offers tips to embrace conflict, such as assessing team members’ “conflict profiles” through the use of a personality profiling tool and “mining” for conflict by encouraging its presence at meetings. Can you think of other ways to facilitate positive conflict throughout your enterprise and avoid “insanity later?”