In situations involving more than one person, some conflict is inevitable, whether expressed or not. In families, friendship groups, personal or professional partnerships, teams, and more complex organizations there are conflicting needs, vested interests, goals, and preferences. In some venues these conflicts are feared, suppressed, and avoided. In others, they are welcomed and can lead to innovation and positive change. As a leader, your attitude toward conflict will guide those who follow you to treat it as an opportunity to be explored or a disturbance to be ignored, if possible.

There are many approaches to dealing with conflict[1]. By culture, training, and experience, there are usually some that we prefer over others. Not all approaches are equally effective. Below is a list of some common options for dealing with conflict and their descriptions…

By B. Kim Barnes

Most of our important business, professional, and personal relationships are ongoing. Relationships in which we communicate and influence one another develop a history. Any specific influence opportunity or event is affected by the past and helps shape the future of the influence relationship. In other words, every time you influence someone you are making it either easier or harder to influence him or her the next time.

I have often run an exercise in workshops in which the participants create an emblem that represents what they stand for – what they want the world to know about them. They then meet in small groups and without saying anything about it, show that emblem to the others, in turn. Each person, when they are the focus of the group, shows the emblem but offer no other information at first. The others are to learn as much as possible about the focus person, using the information on the emblem, but may not agree, disagree, or offer feedback. They are specifically asked not to offer either negative or positive evaluation, but they may ask questions and the focus person may answer them.

A few years ago, author Connie Cass cited an Associated Press poll showing that nearly two-thirds of the Americans in their sample had low trust in others – compared to only one-third in a similar poll forty years earlier. It’s easy to blame this on increasing urbanization, on the media’s “if it bleeds, it leads” approach to informing us about the world, on greater use of the internet with fewer face-to-face social interactions, or perhaps the increasing rancor of our politics has “tribalized” our society and set us against one another.

…So what are the images of the so-called “new leadership”? According to the article, “…And now, with remote and knowledge work limiting the usefulness of other sources of power, informational influence is becoming an increasingly important power.” The new leadership is founded on informational influence!