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The Surprising Benefits of Conflict

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Executive Coach and Leadership Advisor Lori Mazan discuss the benefits of conflict with Previous CSO Christian Rommel of startup biotech Intellikine.

Executive Coach and Leadership Advisor Lori Mazan discuss the benefits of conflict with Previous CSO Christian Rommel of startup biotech Intellikine.

Many people dread conflict and actively avoid situations that might be conflict prone. Unfortunately, this is nearly impossible if you want to be successful at work. Fortunately, there are some surprising benefits of conflict.

Think of a time you got into an argument with a romantic partner. Remember how the conflict was horrible while you were in the middle of it. But once you resolved the conflict, a surprising thing happened. You felt even closer and more intimate than before the conflict. Hence the loveliness that is “make-up” sex.

The same is true for the workplace (without the sex). When you successfully work through conflict with your co-workers or boss, you end up deepening your relationship. This can lead to better understanding, greater commitment, a higher level of trust. This is the counter-intuitive part – that conflict successfully resolved increases trust.

This is part of the magic of startups. Founders regularly bump up against each other. Working through the bumps, strengthens the relationship so that co-founders end up doing miraculous things together.

Sometimes, though, it blows up (as with your previous girl/boyfriend). As long as both parties have skillfully tried to manage the conflict and been unsuccessful, this is probably for the best. It indicates a fundamental disagreement in values, vision or style that can’t be overcome. Better to know that and move along then ignore the problem and slowly, painfully, agonizingly discover this breach over time.

Either way, if you engage the conflict instead of avoiding it, you will save a ton of time, energy, stress and emotional upset not to mention a huge amount of lost productivity. Avoiding conflict doesn’t resolve it. It just let’s the conflict fester until it really blows up in an unmanageable way. Addressing the conflict when it shows itself gives you an opportunity to garner the incredible benefits of conflict.

About the Author

Lori MazanLori Mazan is the founder of Leading From Center, originally started as Seventh Wave coaching in 1996. A seasoned advisor and executive coach herself, Lori also provides high caliber, hand picked and personally supervised affiliate coaches. One of the first 300 certified coaches in the US, Lori has been working for almost two decades with Fortune 100 executives in companies including Chevron, Sprint, and Roche/Genentech, as well as funded growth companies like Coverity, Intellikine, and Tapjoy. Her background includes training thousands of people in leadership skills ranging from deep listening to complex arenas of conflict resolution, motivation, and organizational and political savvy. Blending experience with theory, Lori taught 10 years of college level social psychology and group dynamics courses. Lori lives in Southern California with her son, two cats and a dozen goldfish. She has a 20+ year practice in the art of Tai Chi Chuan.View all posts by Lori Mazan →

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