As a neuroscience undergraduate, I had a mentor who would ruthlessly question every idea that came out of my mouth. It humbled and infuriated me to converse with him – until I learned to a) compose my speech more consciously and b) not take criticism so personally. Now, I love a heated debate and welcome disagreement: it usually makes me smarter. Conflict is healthy when managed intelligently, producing insight, confidence and innovation. But most “nice” people avoid it. Harvard Business Review’s Liane Davey shares some easy ways to communicate effectively during professional disagreements.
In Conflict Strategies for Nice People she begins:
“Do you value friendly relations with your colleagues? Are you proud of being a nice person who would never pick a fight? Unfortunately, you might be just as responsible for group dysfunction as your more combative team members. That’s because it’s a problem when you shy away from open, healthy conflict about the issues. If you think you’re “taking one for the team” by not rocking the boat, you’re deluding yourself.
Teams need conflict to function effectively. Conflict allows the team to come to terms with difficult situations, to synthesize diverse perspectives, and to make sure solutions are well thought-out. Conflict is uncomfortable, but it is the source of true innovation and also a critical process in identifying and mitigating risks.”