Dealing with conflict and how to react

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By: Kelly Fliller

Last week, Heather and I had the opportunity to attend a workshop on navigating conflict while collaborating, facilitated by Lynn Fick-Cooper of the Center for Creative Leadership. This is a very important topic as we collaborate every day in both our professional and personal lives. We learned about ourselves, what our triggers are and some great tools to work through conflict.

We started the discussion with the meaning of the word conflict and learned that conflicting values are the source of most conflicts. This led to one of the activities which was categorizing our values. We had a deck of cards, each with a value printed on it, that we had to categorize from always valued all the way down to never valued. After we got those settled, we ranked our top five always valued cards. We each read our number one value out loud to the room. It was interesting to hear how different our number one values were and also easy to see how conflicts can arise if we don’t understand each other’s values. This was a great activity to learn about ourselves and our colleagues.

Then it was time to role play. I won’t lie – I was dreading this a bit, but it turned out to be my favorite part of the workshop. Seeing something in action is always a great way to fully understand a concept. We were able to visually see the active constructive responses to conflict and how to use them. It was fun to see everyone’s interpretations and we all learned a lot from each other.

It is so important to deal with conflict constructively. In the non-profit world, we all work together on various boards, committees and projects. Conflicts will certainly arise as everyone has different personalities, different values and different ways of tackling tasks and situations. These are people we will continuously work with so it is crucial to sit down, have open conversations and solve any disagreements in a constructive manner. It can lead to some wonderful discussions and open up new ideas we didn’t think were possible.

Understanding conflict and learning about yourself are crucial. Knowing what triggers you and how you react can help you better prepare and be proactive next time a difficult situation arises. We cannot control how someone else will behave, but we can control our own reactions and that is key in handling any conflict.

The Center for Creative Leadership has some great information on conflict and how you can prevent it. Check out this article on preventing conflict at work.

How do you handle conflict?

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