Creating Healthy Conflict in Your Organization

Do you shrink from conflict or run to it?


Patrick Lencioni, founder and president of The Table Group, states that when there is a trust, conflict is nothing but the pursuit of truth or the best possible answer. Without trust, conflict is politics. Trust lays the foundation for healthy conflict within a team or organization.

Watch the video to learn more about how trust breeds healthy conflict in your organization.

Conflict is a good thing, folks, on a team. Conflict, when there is trust – it’s got to be based on trust - when there is trust, conflict is nothing but a pursuit of truth or the best possible answer. Without trust, conflict is politics. So you have got to build trust first, don't jump right into the conflict. We have an online team assessment. If you get green on trust and red on all the others, we say still focus on trust first.

Every family, every culture, is going to have slightly different interpretations of conflict. Anybody here have done work in Japan? Show me! Somebody raise a hand. Thank you! That is better, because it is dark. I could hear that.

So, if you go to Japan and you're working with a group of culturally Japanese executives, culturally Japanese executives, and one of them says, "Hey, I have an idea," and they say their idea and everyone says on the team doesn't like it. How do they respond? They go like this: "Hi, yes, hi, hi, yes," that means "I don't really like the idea." But if they hate the idea, if they really hate the idea, you know what they do? They go like this: "Hi, yes. Hi." They suck through their teeth. When you see a Japanese guy at a meeting sucking through his teeth, I want you to picture an Italian going like this, because it is the same thing. And if you don't know that, you are going to be in big trouble, folks.

Even here in the U.S. we have, we are a very transient nation. You know Atlanta is full of people, and you all come from all over the country, and North America, and the world. But even here in the U.S. we have these interesting dynamics. I saw a cartoon years ago that depicted it, that showed a guy in Los Angeles in the first frame, but West Coast conflict. And he said this something "Good morning, "but the bubble showed what he was really thinking, and in effect it said, "Screw you." And then it showed the guy in New York City on the next one and he said something like, "Screw you," and the bubble said, "Good morning."

But here is the thing, it doesn't matter if conflict is Italian like me, or more demure like others, what matters is that you have to know the people on your team are not holding back their opinions, folks. People cannot be choosing their battles, calculating the cost. When people disagree, they have to put it out there. So it doesn't matter how it looks like on the outside, you want to have a culture concept, but the main thing is that people have to be willing to disagree.

Patrick Lencioni

Patrick Lencioni is founder and president of The Table Group, a firm dedicated to providing organizations with ideas, products and services that improve teamwork, clarity and employee engagement.

Patrick’s passion for organiz...

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