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Is Conflict Destructive?

Is Conflict Destructive?

When professional peers work as independent contributors or together as teams in an organization, conflicts are bound to occur. This is especially true in today’s flatter organizations, where managers depend on peer relationships to get their work done. When people have compatible goals, a predictable structure, and harmonious relationships, conflicts are fewer. In the traditional military, for example, a deliberate intention to reduce conflict among soldiers and their leaders is made by using structured hierarchies and communication channels designed to settle conflicts before they occur. The looser the organizational structure is, the more harmonious the relationships have to be to avoid conflicts. In a group of social peers, for example, there might be fewer conflicts simply because the people like each other so much. In a long-standing work team, conflicts may be fewer because the team members have gotten to know each other over a period of time.

Inevitably, though, no matter how harmonious the group or how structured the organization, conflicts are bound to occur. Some conflicts may feel unproductive, even destructive. Peer conflicts can have high stakes because often your peers have the ear of your boss, and in a future management shuffle may in fact become your boss. Effective managers know that conflicts with their peers can’t really be avoided and learn to understand and resolve them.


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