Proper conflict behavior for a better work climate: too much harmony brakes!

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Harmony is something great. At work as well as in private life. We do not want to argue! Why it would be wiser, however, to pronounce disagreements.Peter Brandl is looking for harmony

Here writes for you:


Peter Brandl Peter Brandl_DSC9487Peter Brandl is a professional pilot, management consultant and keynote speaker.


From the author:




A beautiful illusion

The other day I involuntarily witnessed a conversation in a restaurant: An elderly couple was sitting at the table with other older couples and I picked up the following snippets of sentences: "We have been married for 42 years and have never argued." At first glance a romantic and beautiful idea. What if you think about it more closely?

Do we really believe that it is possible to lead a life without conflict? Then also about 42 years? Certainly not. In every respect, professionally or privately, conflicts always arise. Frequently, however, these are not carried out. We do not want to argue!


I experience similar things in teams on a regular basis. At best, there is a pleasant, friendly and appreciative atmosphere. Harmony stop. Often, however, this harmony has long since been tipped into predisposition or resignation.

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What appears calm and harmonious at first glance turns out to be "out of the way", as inner dismissal and rolled eyes. For a long time now, people have only talked about the bare essentials and even a psychological layperson quickly realizes that you can cut the air here.

Conflicts are part of reality

It is in the nature of things that when people work together, there will always be differences of opinion. The more important the topic is, the more the differences of opinion are also emotionally charged.

It is also clear: If I really care about one thing, I will not listen and weigh up when I feel that someone else harms this thing or even endangers it. I will try to defend my cause and fight for it.

One day, it's right

But there are also these many smaller conflicts. The ones for which you do not draw with waving flags, which are perhaps not so important to yourself. And yet they are there. But do you really have to discuss everything or even argue? No of course not. On the other hand, it is these very everyday small, blown-away conflicts that slowly poison our lives.

We always eat things inside us. Unfortunately, with the tendency for larger portions. Because even that is clear: If I have never said anything, I can not suddenly start it. And so the conflicts and problems that are swept under the table, or that one is silent dead, get bigger and bigger. Until it crashes one day, but then right. This crash can then manifest as termination, rage or divorce.

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According to a Gallup study, 20% of employees are no longer emotional with theirs Company connected - through their inner termination. Normally, this is the result of unresolved and repressed conflicts.

Just pronounce things

Actually, as always, it would be easy: If there is something to say or clarify, one should simply address things. Actually.

But in real life, there is the fear of being too close to the other person, of hurting him or her, of crossing boundaries, and then perhaps not of being liked anymore. Whatever keeps us from addressing what is brewing in us - harmony seeking or even the fear of conflict - one of these barriers, makes communicative life difficult for us.

Ways out of the harmony trap

But how do you get out of this harmony trap? It's actually quite simple: The first step, as is so often the case, is to “make people aware”. Make yourself aware of your feelings and maybe this lump in your throat. Be aware of what you are afraid of or what inhibits you.

In the second step, you can ask yourself whether you really want it or whether you should change something. For example, it would simply be an idea to speak to what you are disturbing or what you want. If you are now afraid that the situation could only escalate, I recommend you two simple techniques.

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  1. Just shut up and let the other talk: No, I do not mean you should swallow your conflicts. On the contrary. Speak what is to be spoken. But also give your opposing team the opportunity to speak. It can be through out that he or she is actually hit and barks. And? Let your opponent talk out. You do not have to react to everything that is said, especially on provocations or attacks. Let him or her talk. But listen! Try to understand and ask if necessary.
  2. Send me messages: I messages are wrongly discredited. They are one of the most effective means of having constructive conversations and preventing conflicts from escalating. How does it go most of the time? At the latest when the first little emoticons are in play, the sentences begin with "you". “Because of you”, “because of you”, “you would have” and so on. The allegations are already flying back and forth. Perhaps you don't even mean all of this as a reproach, but it is sure to be so.

These you messages are not only counterproductive, they are also pointless. Why do you say something about yourself to your counterpart? If he did something, then he knows best himself! It is much better to say something about yourself. The best way to do this is to simply start the sentences with "I". "I wish", "bothered me", "arrives at me". So send me messages.

More possibilities

Admittedly: I-messages are almost certainly not what you would like to say in a conflict. However, they are particularly effective because they are exactly what you should say.

Do you remember the older couple from the beginning of this text? Was our first reaction to 42 years without conflict right? I personally believe that if we never crash together, if it never fails, then we are not even near our possibilities!

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