Conflict is generally most beneficial when the emphasis is on issues and problem-solving, and most detrimental when focused on personalities and competition.
If fair rules of conflict are followed in combination with flexibility, a concern for others and an emphasis on finding solutions, conflict can be beneficial. The goal of conflict management is to minimize the occurrence and escalation of harmful conflict while allowing the useful forms of conflict to unfold.
How can this goal be achieved? Some behavioral responses to conflict, whether occurring at the earliest stages or after the conflict develops, can be thought of as constructive. These constructive responses have the effect of not escalating the conflict further. They tend to reduce the tension and keep the conflict focused on ideas rather than personalities. Destructive responses, on the other hand, tend to make things worse; they do little to reduce the conflict and allow it to focus on personalities. If conflict can be thought of as a fire, then constructive responses help put the fire out, while destructive responses fan the flames. Obviously, it is better to respond to conflict with constructive rather than destructive responses.
It is also useful to view responses to conflict not simply as constructive or destructive, but as differing in terms of how active or passive they are. Active responses are those in which the individual takes some overt action in response to the conflict or provocation. Such responses can be either constructive or destructive; what makes them active is that they require some overt effort on the part of the individual.
Whether it's conflict between individuals, team dysfunction, or community miscommunication, we can work together to get beyond the emotions and into the real causes of the issue so that any conflict can become a learning and growth opportunity for your business.