Throwback Thursday: Workplace conflict can be a good thing

Welcome to our Throwback Thursday blog posts—where we highlight one of our articles from the archives and add a new tip or insight.

This week we’re reflecting back on an article we wrote about the conflict at work, and how to have healthy and fair debates over decisions that need to be made in a meeting setting. We advise readers how to set some ground rules for your team, and the importance of making sure everyone has airtime.

What do you do when you have someone on your team who is introverted, or who is less engaged than others and tends not to participate in group discussions? You want to make sure that everyone contributes so that a range of ideas are heard, and so that everyone feels like they’re part of the team and have a stake in decisions.

Introverts tend to feel uncomfortable being put on the spot. They prefer to think through their ideas in solitude and prepare to present them, rather than talking through their ideas out loud, which tends to be the case for extroverts.

An effective way to address this is to send out an email with the meeting agenda a few days before. Include some key questions for your team to reflect on. What do they think about the situation? What are their best ideas? What are the big upsides and what are the risks? Let them know you’re going to really challenge them during the meeting and would like to hear from everyone. Set the stage by telling them ahead of time that you’re looking for creative solutions and want everyone to think outside of the box. And that you’re also open to being challenged yourself as the leader.

By giving your team the heads up in advance and setting expectations clearly, you’re more likely to have an open and productive conversation. The introverts can prepare before the meeting and those who tend to be less engaged will know that there’s an expectation that they contribute to the discussion. Letting your team debate issues doesn’t have to be a painful process resulting in conflict if you take the time to set an open and constructive tone up front.

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