Should We Embrace Conflict or Run Away From It?

I haven’t met a person that actually enjoys conflict (although I have met people that attract conflict all the time). Fundamentally, it is simply uncomfortable. Thus, people avoid it. We’d often rather forgo the discomfort and end up with something we don’t like than create conflict and fight for something we believe in.

The problem, though, is that when conflict is not resolved, resentments starts to set in. And resentment leads to anger. And anger, well, anger leads to all kinds of bad things, one of which is not productivity.

It is one thing for the staff to be angry at each other. When the leadership is angry and resentful, trust diminishes. And all those feeling trickle down throughout the organization. In other words, unresolved conflict can be deadly to your medical practice.

What happens is that the rest of the organization absorbs those feelings, and they set in like red wine on your beige colored carpet and to remove it will require extraordinary effort by the leadership team.

What if, as a leader, you encouraged conflict?

Of course, we don’t want mean, nasty and hurtful conflict where people start attacking personality, character or appearance. I’m talking about the healthy type of conflict—where the goal is to find the best possible answer to a problem.

I’m talking about conflict that actually challenges individuals to defend their proposition.

Healthy conflict is actually a good thing. Why? Because when people challenge one another, the best ideas win, things get sorted out and resentment goes away.

On the other hand, if we all agree, without some sort of debate, then we will most likely end up with a mediocre decision.

If we invite healthy conflict, where each team members express their feelings, bring up their thoughts without holding back, the likelihood of reaching a clear concise process increases. At the very least, you know where everybody stands.

Give it a try. Next time you are in a meeting or discussion in your practice, fish for conflict. Look beneath the surface to see if there are any unresolved issues.

In the meantime, take a look at this video where Steve Jobs describes how the best ideas rise to the top at Apple. By the way, the part I’m referring to is around the 1:42 mark. Although he does give a lot of great insight throughout. So try not to skip ahead.