Productive Conflict: Listen to Differing Perspectives

People who exchange perspectives tend to encourage dialogue around new ideas and information.

In a dysfunctional situation, a leader may do the opposite; present information without room for discussion.

I was part of a team once that had to select chaperones for an international youth trip. The chairman explained exactly how the selection had been made four years earlier. He didn’t ask questions or seek input. He just said—with good motives—“Let’s not reinvent the wheel here.”

What the chairman didn’t know was that there were three people in that group who had previous experience chaperoning a very similar trip more recently. TSA had changed procedures, the airline had changed their group ticketing policy, and some other bits of destination info had evolved for security reasons.

Therefore, the group was caught off guard when they embarked on the trip, leading to tension, inefficiency, and hurt feelings.

Leaders who shut down discussions without exchanging perspectives can really cause harm.

It can also lead to conflict that isn’t out in the open. And if conflict isn’t out in the open, there’s no way it can become productive.

But when we are open to listening to the perspectives of others, information can be gained by all and there are no secrets going behind anyone’s back.

Listening to the perspectives of others may come more naturally to those who have C styles and S styles, than for those with D styles and i styles.

This is the 3rd post in an 18-part series discussing positive conflict behaviors. Effective leaders encourage productive conflict and discourage unproductive conflict. Follow along as we explore the positive impact of these behaviors.

Part 1: Finding the Root of the Problem
Part 2: Apologize

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