Uncomfortable. Scary. Difficult. Challenging. Time-consuming. Fight. Adversarial. Loud. Exhausting.

That is a list of words I heard last week when I asked a team this question – What are two words that come to mind when you think of conflict?

Maybe you feel the same. Maybe you are wondering how you could ever enjoy conflict. Let me explain h ow.

Conflict doesn’t have to be ugly and terrible. It can be good. In fact it can be downright fantastic! It just depends on your mindset.

Which mindset do you have?

Mindset 1 causes combative interactions. It is a positional way of communicating and holds the belief that there is a winner and there is a loser. Some reasons why people have this mindset:

  • They don’t know how else to interact.
  • They don’t feel listened to.
  • They don’t feel validated.
  • They believe their way is the only way.
  • They feel like they are being pushed to give something up.
  • They don’t trust others in the interaction.
  • They are afraid decisions will impact them in a negative way.

Mindset 2 produces healthy interactions. It is a respectful way of communicating and holds the belief that we are better together. Some reasons people have this mindset:

  • They are comfortable being uncomfortable.
  • They recognize they don’t know everything.
  • They know there are multiple ways to get to a result.
  • They believe others have their best interest in mind.
  • They all want to find the best solution.
  • They trust the people they work with.
  • They know it isn’t all about themselves.
  • They recognize progress is impossible without change.

If you adopt Mindset B—the mindset of healthy conflict—you will discover that conflict is really diversity of thought. It is the catalyst for productive conversations and good problem-solving and decision-making.