Conflict is all around us. Consider a recent conflict. On reflection, don’t you wish you had coped better and managed it in a different way?

The word conflict is used in so many ways and a common definition of it is that a conflict is a form of competitive behavior between two people who disagree with one another.  It often happens when two or more people compete over perceived or actual incompatible goals.


Ongoing conflict can have a negative effect on the behavior and attitudes of people in the workplace. On a positive note though, conflict can promote communication, provide better problem-solving skills, and create positive changes among all people concerned. How is this possible, you may ask?

If one strikes two pieces of coal, sparks fly and from there a flame can be ignited. The same idea holds for conflict. When there is disagreement, these places of friction can ignite the possibility of change.

We live in a conflict-averse world. I know I would rather run a hundred miles from a conflict, than stand and face it head-on. Yet, I have surprised myself when I have taken a step back from a conflict or disagreement and just noticed what was happening without judging. From this perspective, I am able to see all points of view, even if they don’t agree with my own. This often ignites a new way of thinking where everyone feels validated and understood.


One of the key elements we use in our training of Conflict management at VETTA Internationale is the idea of moving people to a win/win scenario. The idea was first conceived when Stephen Covey wrote “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”

The basic principles of a win/win approach are:

  • Considering what you want and what the other person wants
  • Acknowledging your own needs as well as the needs of the other person
  • Respecting relationships
  • A belief that both parties win
  • It focuses on solving problems, rather than fighting each other
  • It increases co-operation and productivity
  • Encourages creativity and optimism in people.

I truly believe conflict can be a powerful motivator if we are prepared to deeply listen to another person’s opinion without getting upset or jumping to conclusions. Perhaps their point of view might have some validity if we only take the time to be authentic in how we listen and respond. The trick here is to keep emotion out of the equation when we are triggered.

The next time your ‘buttons are pushed’, take a breath, step back and take time to adjust your approach.