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Conflict: Productive or Destructive?

Updated: Jan 7, 2023

When people disagree, we have conflict.

How we choose to respond to the disagreement, well that’s the difference maker!

Destructive conflict tears teams and people apart and shuts people down. This results in disengagement or loss of key people in your organization and destroyed trust.

Productive conflict promotes organizational and whole person health where employee engagement and production increases, and trust and respect are shared.

If this article caught your eye, it’s likely because you have found yourself in painful conflict at one time or another and you believe there’s a better way. Guess what? There is.


Emotional intelligence is finally finding its way to the forefront in business! If you’re self-aware, empathetic, have a good understanding of your own emotions, and an ability to communicate well with others, you’re on your way to a higher level of emotional intelligence.

When people are in conflict and it is emotionally counterproductive, it’s typically because someone is experiencing a threat to an idea, a deeply held belief, or to their identity. These types of emotions, whether real or perceived, may create a distraction from the topic at hand.


People are beautifully complicated.

Each of us has our own set of criteria that we live by.

Our DNA, upbringing, triumphs and failures, breakthroughs and traumas, all impact the way we see the world.


Good news. When you take the time to put your own thoughts and feelings aside and attempt to understand where another person is coming from, you will learn. Once you learn more about where they are coming from, then take a look at your own position. Often, when you can take yourself out of the equation for a moment, your own thoughts or feelings won’t cloud your judgment. Something else that may happen is you gain the respect from the other party.

SET the example

As a leader in your organization (it doesn’t matter what role you play), you have an opportunity to set the example for others to follow. Resistance will happen; expect it. Navigating conflict doesn’t have to be dreadful, it can be invigorating. Be sure you have the right intentions, not to influence others to believe what you believe, but to collaborate to get to the best possible outcome for the clients, company, team, vendors, and community!

Be open to others challenging your ideas.

Show me an organization that is glad to respectfully explore differing opinions/views and committed to working through it together – and I’ll show you a team with a healthy culture and an ability to continuously improve! The sky is the limit for these teams.

my real life example

One upon a time, I was a young lass, growing in my leadership in a growing organization. New leaders entered in, and I butted heads with one in particular. We both had ideas that we thought were right and had a challenging time connecting and working well together. We battled and made everyone around us uncomfortable. It got to the point where it was torture to be in the same room. Then, one day, a co-worker said, “Figure it out. You’re half the problem”.

Wow. Thank you, person from the past!!! Game changer. Once I accepted my half of the relationship, changed my perspective, and actually attempted to get to know this person. Things changed; they changed quickly! No, it wasn’t easy. Yes, it took a lot of energy and intentionality.

IT WAS WORTH EVERY PAINFUL MOMENT! Why? It made us both better leaders. We both learned so much. Today, we are like family. The lessons learned have stayed with me to this day. I never need to try and prove myself; I just need to be me and respectfully communicate with people if I have a thought or opinion. If they don’t agree with me, that’s ok! We can find out the best solution when we take the time to learn from each other.

plan for the future

Having gone through this personally, I realized it’s good to plan ahead for conflict before it occurs. It’s hard to think clearly when you’re in it, so best to plan for the future.

It’s unrealistic and unhealthy to think that conflict can be eliminated. Setting some ground rules, boundaries, or a plan for addressing conflict may be needed in some organizations. Talk with your team about what conflicts have come up recently and what could be done to better approach a situation like that in the future.

It may not look smooth and pretty at first. Don’t be discouraged or give up. Continue and keep moving toward a more productive type of conflict. It takes time to build relationships, trust, and open communication. It won’t happen overnight.

Not sure where to start? We are here to help!


Was there something in this article that resonated with you?

At Accompany Suite, our desire is to help people communicate better to have more meaningful and productive conversations.

If you’re not sure how or where to get started, we’re here to guide you along the way. We come alongside you and meet you right where you're at.

Click the button below to schedule a complimentary 30-minute call to get started!

Hope to connect with you soon!

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