Disagreement - or conflict?

Sometimes people treat the words “disagreement” and “conflict” as interchangeable.

But they are really two different things.

Disagreement usually means a dispute which can often be easily resolved.

Sometimes disagreement can be a driver towards progress – think of a group proposing, considering and accepting/rejecting the options for a major new project.

Conflict arises when people have opposing opinions, values and beliefs.

These disputes can be so deep-seated that the origin is hard to pinpoint. But their effects are often obvious:

  • poor individual and group performance
  • decreasing motivation
  • increasing financial, personal and reputational drains on the business.

Although causes of conflict are often hidden, a workplace mediation can help the parties in a dispute recognise those causes – and, more importantly, identify the common interests which can be the basis for a new mutual understanding.

Do you kick your dog?

As a workplace mediator I often ask new contacts a particular question.

A common reaction is surprise then denial – as if I had asked: “Do you kick your dog?”

The actual question is: “How does your business deal with conflict?”

Pretty much everyone must manage disagreements , bickering, arguments and sometimes even hostility.

Many prefer to avoid conflict, but that prevents any solution.

Others try to accommodate the problem, or become over-assertive, which means one wins – but the other loses.  And that old favourite, compromise, often leaves both sides dissatisfied, feeling they could and should have got a better deal.

The answer is collaboration, which allows both sides to take away a positive result in a win-win solution.

Workplace mediators provide a confidential, impartial and voluntary process in which those in conflict work together to produce their own sustainable solutions.    

© Osborne Mediation 2019