Dealing With Conflict

By Scott Airitam, President of Leadership Systems


Take a moment and give some thought to all of the wasted time and energy that most organizations spend with the repercussions of non-productive conflict. How much time in your organization? In your team or workgroup? All of this wasted time and energy is very inefficient to the bottom line of the organization. It is difficult to calculate hard dollar figures to quantify the cost of the wasted time, resources, and energy; however, it is obvious that the organization pays for it.

The reason for all the waste is not the conflict itself. As a matter of fact, that can be healthy. The real issue lies in how people handle conflict. There are some basic assumptions that get people in trouble with regard to conflict.

  • Assumption #1-Conflict is bad.
     This assumption is especially dangerous because conflict, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad. The result of the conflict determines its value. Because people assign a negative connotation to conflict, people try to avoid it, people try to escape from it, or people throw up defense mechanisms that make the situation worse.
  • Assumption #2-Conflict can be avoided. In fact, conflict cannot be avoided. Everyone is going to find himself or herself in conflict at some point. Determining how to get the most out of conflict is the best way to deal with conflict.
  • Assumption #3-There is a best way to deal with conflict. In discussing dealing with disagreements, there can be no “best” way to deal with conflict. In fact, there can be good strategies, but how to deal with conflict is going to be affected by who is involved, the situation.

Ultimately, how we deal with conflict each time we encounter it is a small piece of success or failure. Paying attention to how conflict is handled is a key for a healthy organizational culture and productive employees. Taking a serious look at how it is handled in your environment will yield many dividends.


Scott Airitam is the president of Leadership Systems (, a company committed to providing organizations with new and inventive ways to maximize the "people systems" within them. Scott can be reached at or (214) 507-9700. 


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