Conflict Management – a.k.a Creating a High-Feedback Culture

Megara Kastner, Organizational Development and Learning

Conflict is inevitable.
Conflict can be destructive.
Conflict is necessary and helps a group develop its capacity for difference, creativity, and frequent feedback.Business Conflict

Learning to manage conflict so it can be used as an asset is the best thing a group can do. Groups that work in an open-feedback system can readily express differences to help build the capacity of the group. Without differences, a group is stagnant, everyone thinks the same, does the same work, and cannot create new perspectives.

Conflict is nothing more than undelivered feedback. In traditional western European/U.S. culture, most people avoid conflict. We tend to wait, hoping someone will “get it” (the subtle hints) and change on their own. By the time we deliver the feedback, our dissatisfaction may have built to the point that the feedback comes with an intention and tone that sounds like a demand for change or even a threat.

A high-feedback culture is based in expressing the impact behaviors have on others. Creating such a culture takes time, commitment, and practice by everyone. Yes, it is completely possible to create a culture that effectively manages conflict and inspires a high-feedback system.

Feedback is just data. It is not a demand for change. It may be followed with a request. It may also be an invitation to collaborate for change. Feedback is an offering of data to help improve the relationship to build the interconnections. These exchanges need to happen regularly as part of normal group behavior.

There are three general forms of feedback: 1) Positive Feedback, when one thanks another because the impact was so positive; 2) Asking for Feedback, when one asks the other about the impact of her/his behavior has had; 3) Making a Request Feedback, when one expresses a difference and asks to collaborate on a change.

We have several consultants in our Organization Development and Learning Department that can work with and coach your group toward a high-feedback culture. Call or email us for assistance.