Productive Conflict: Revisit Unresolved Issues

Beth is a sixty-two-year-old grandmother of four, who’s looking forward to retirement. She’s worked in the banking industry for forty years and knows the ins and outs of how the company functions. She’s an executive who focuses a lot of her time and energy on business strategy and investments.

Armando is new to the world of banking, but has fifteen years of experience in marketing for a major restaurant chain. He’s under forty, unmarried, and works eighty hours a week on a forty-hour per week salary, because he loves the work so much. He was hired as a first-time executive to re-brand the bank and take their marketing to a new level.

In their one year of working on the same team, Beth and Armando agree on virtually nothing. In fact, their conflicts go from productive to destructive in a matter of minutes. Both have been actively working on how to better communicate with the other, but with little to no success.

Until one day…

Something clicked for Armando. He realized that when he spoke to Beth, he always dismissed all of her ideas immediately, putting her on the defensive. So during their next meeting, Armando was more mindful of his words. He got some head bobs from Beth at first, then a smile, and finally…an agreement. They were on the same page!

After the meeting, they discussed their past unresolved issues and realized that they had both been hanging on to grudges. See, they’d let the miscommunications and destructive conflicts fester over time, until it had become the only way they knew how to treat each other.

Stockpiling conflicts that never go resolved only leads to more conflict down the road.

The best thing to do is to deal with the conflict when it happens, but if that’s not possible, make sure to revisit the conflict later so it doesn’t build resentment for you or the other party.

Revisiting unresolved conflict may be more natural for those with the i style or D style than for those with the S style or C style.

This is the 11th 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
Part 3: Listen to Differing Perspectives
Part 4: Bring in a Neutral Perspective
Part 5: Separate Emotion from Fact
Part 6: Own Your Contributions
Part 7: Offer Reassurance
Part 8: Find a Compromise
Part 9: Give Others Time and Space
Part 10: Acknowledge the Feelings of Others

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