Turning Conflict into a Learning Curve


You may have heard of this quote before:


Failure is not failure if you learn from it.


Often, conflict in the workplace is perceived as a negative element that can hinder team harmony and productivity, and can lead to the breakdown of goals, projects and in worst case scenarios, the overall business. It can be seen as professional failure.


However, as we’ve just been reminded of – failure isn’t failure if you learn from it.


While unresolved communication, role identity or workplace inequality conflicts may be harmful to a business, other forms of conflict can act as a catalyst for innovation and team growth. Further, regardless of the conflict form (described below), observation, reflection and both behavioural and attitude change can turn the conflict into a productive professional and personal lesson.


The three forms of conflict that may become apparent in a working environment, and are often inevitable, regardless of the size and scope of the business are:


Task conflicts: disagreements over what the team is supposed to accomplish.


Relationship conflicts: disagreements between members that have become personal.


Process conflicts: disagreements over how the team should go about its work.


So, how can you turn a conflict within one of these elements into a lesson?