When Conflict Isn’t What It Seems
Conflict can play out in strange ways.
It is not always obvious to those embroiled in the struggle what is really going on. When in conflict, people have a nasty habit of saying one thing and meaning another. And they do this by focusing on the opposite of what is really bothering them.
Argumentative colleagues are sometimes just disagreeable, and sometimes they are expressing dissatisfaction with the relationship. Those team members who consistently disagree with the leader, expressing a different point of view on just about everything, do so because they are highly dissatisfied with the relationship they have with the leader. As a rule, people express conflict with the relationship as content.
Any time a leader observes a colleague continually arguing over small matters that don’t add to much, they should conclude that not everything is as it appears. People don’t like to come right out and say they feel disrespected, undervalued, or unheard in a relationship, so they express their dissatisfaction by attacking the ideas, positions, and choices of other parties.
To say this is highly confusing would be an understatement.
Because many leaders don’t understand this dynamic, they scratch their heads wondering why the colleague (or family member) takes issue with everything they say.
The best leaders learn to see what is really going on and put an end to, or dampen, the constant debate. They take the time to sit down with the colleague and explore the quality of the relationship, thereby producing a release valve whereby the real issues can be addressed.
The greatest leadership secrets are always right in front of us. They are just hard to see.