August 17, 2021

166: Engage in Healthy, Productive Conflict

Every team experiences conflict at some point. Therefore, the question is not if or when, but how the conflict will unfold. Managers play an essential role in guiding the team’s ability to engage in healthy, productive conflict so that the team gets stronger and the work is better.

Today’s episode is the second in a two part series about conflict. In this episode, I’ll get into the difference between productive and unproductive conflict, how to deal with conflict in healthy ways, and tips for how to get your team to confront conflict head on. In episode 162, I explained the five conflict styles and how they can be beneficial or not.

The full episode guide includes sample norms for dealing with conflict as well as additional guidance for helping your team engage in healthy, productive conflict. Get it when you join the Modern Manager community or purchase the full guide at

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Read the related blog article: How To Effectively Manage Conflict At Work

Key Takeaways:

  • Teams that prioritize productive conflict and use a healthy approach become better and closer. Unhealthy, unproductive conflict slows down teams and worsens relationships.
  • Productive conflict makes the work better. Unproductive conflict is a distraction.
  • A healthy approach to conflict is grounded in trust and respect, and addresses the conflict head on. An unhealthy approach ignores the conflict or addresses it with ill will.
  • Trust and respect are necessary for teams to feel safe sharing diverse perspectives and coming up with collaborative solutions.
  • Teams need to learn which problems to focus on and which to let go of.
  • Don’t try to “win” the argument. Go in with a curiosity mindset to learn about others’ perspectives and to explain your own.
  • If conflict is too heated, people won’t listen to each other and will become defensive or silent. Reflect on your own emotions and take a break to calm down if needed.
  • Have a team discussion on Ground Rules For Conflict by identifying 3-5 behaviors for what a healthy approach to conflict looks like. Post the Ground Rules behaviors somewhere visible in the office and refer to them when conflicts arise.
  • Decide whether to address conflict at meetings or individually, educate your team to recognize unhealthy conflict, and identify what skills your team needs more of.

Additional Resources:

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