Sweeping conflict underneath the proverbial rug is one of the most ineffective, counterproductive, and even dangerous habits a manager can develop.

As persons in leadership positions, we are expected to effectively manage conflict, especially disputes between people, on a routine basis. However, many of us would rather not; because dealing with conflict is not easy.

Engaging in a workplace conflict causes many of us to feel uncomfortable, threatened, and out of control. The habit of avoidance is sometimes formed as a result.

Remember, conflict is inevitable!

Regardless of how well employees interact and communicate, there will be times when conflict will surface, often unexpectedly.

When this happens, it is imperative to resolve the conflict as soon as possible and at the lowest level possible. If the conflict is ignored, avoided, or allowed to linger, compounding problems are certain to ensue. An effective manager understands that conflict is much like friction or fire.
As with fire, conflict should be respected. If conflict is not respected and treated with careful attention, destruction could occur as a result. Interestingly, as with fire, conflict in and of itself is not destructive. In actuality, it’s the effects or results of conflict, particularly out-of-control conflict, which can cause damage.

Like fire, conflict that is left unattended and unmanaged is dangerous to everyone and everything it touches in its path, and it can become totally consuming.

If managed properly, conflict can be used constructively, like when fire is used to warm our home, cook our food, and incandescently cause a light bulb to glow.

Proper management of conflict can illuminate problems that need to be identified and corrected. Avoiding, ignoring, or concealing conflict by sweeping it underneath the rug can cause a smoldering situation to ignite and set your organization perilously ablaze.

Ed: If you need guidance about EEO issues, contact the Garrison EEO office at (305)437-1826.

Page last updated Fri July 15th, 2011 at 15:41