Some team members hate conflict. Instead of openly airing the issues, conflict-averse people often go to their best friend on the team and complain about other team members. They say things like, “I don’t want to make trouble” or “It won’t help anyway.” Having aired their grievances, they feel a bit better, and they go on with their work as if conflict has nothing to do with them.

People who hate conflict still HAVE conflict. Not directly addressing it doesn’t make conflict disappear. In fact, when avoiders talk to others instead of the person that’s bugging them, conflict often festers in the “injured party” and affects the receiver of the information as well. The uninvolved person is now a part of the conflict, since it’s been plopped into their lap.

If your team doesn’t address contention regularly and in a timely manner (e.g. within 24 hours), it’s time to have a conversation. Set up team rules and expectations around conflict and communication. Instead of working around a sticky issue, address it forthrightly and as immediately as possible.

Whenever people work together, expect some conflict. You may even want to encourage spirited debate, if it means that you’re having more direct, honest and respectful communication around what really matters.

How do you deal with underground conflict? Tell us about it below or contact us here.


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