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Conflict: The Art of Moving Forward


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David A. Zimmer

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Conflict: The Art of Moving Forward

  1. 1. CONFLICTCONFLICTThe Art of Moving ForwardThe Art of Moving ForwardDavid A. Zimmer, PMP, MCP, ITIL, CCPDavid A. Zimmer, PMP, MCP, ITIL, CCPDavid A. Zimmer, PMP, MCP, ITIL, CCP
  2. 2. Copyright © 2011 David A. Zimmer, PMP, Warrington, PANo part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval systems or transmitted inany form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, orotherwise, except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States CopyrightAct, without the prior written permission of David A. Zimmer, PMP.Trademarks: All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.References to the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Body of Knowledge(PMBOK) pertains to the Fourth Edition © 2008.If you have any questions about this paper, contact us:David A. Zimmer, PMP, MCP, ITIL, CCPWarrington, PA 18976Ph. +1/215.491.254410 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 215 April 2012
  3. 3. Conflict: The Art of Moving ForwardConflict: The Art of Moving ForwardCopyright © David A. Zimmer, PMP, All Rights Reserved Page 3Conflict:Conflict:Conflict:The Art of Moving ForwardThe Art of Moving ForwardThe Art of Moving ForwardCConflict. The very mention of the word sends people scurrying. Many fearconflict. We avoid conflict at all cost. It is something to be resolved andthen never mentioned again.But here is an idea. Without conflict, nothing moves forward, nothing progressesand we remain stagnate. Think about it. If it were not for conflict, we’d remainthe same. No advancement.Consider driving. If there were no pressure applied to the gas pedal, the carwouldn’t go. If the transmission were not put in Drive and its gears groundagainst each other, we’d stay put. If the tires didn’t push against the pavement,we’d never move.Therefore, we see there is good conflict and bad conflict. It is how we react tothe conflict that determines if it is positive or negative. In fact, we can have bothat the same time. Using the tire example on our cars, the pressure of the tire onthe pavement and its spin determines our movement, yet the mere fact of thepressure on the pavement also wears the tires. Conflict can be exhilarating andabrasive.Our job is to determine if we move forward or backward.Permit me to expand this thought just a bit more. They say necessity is themother of invention. What causes the necessity? The feeling of conflict of nothaving what you need at the time you need it. To overcome the feeling, wecreate the next great invention. Conflict, therefore, is the grandmother ofinvention.Five Laws of ConflictFive Laws of ConflictFive Laws of ConflictLet’s spend a bit of time understanding the nature of conflict. We’ll learn weneed to resolve some conflict, while at the same time, we need to
  4. 4. Copyright © David A. Zimmer, PMP, All Rights ReservedPage 4Conflict: The Art of Moving ForwardConflict: The Art of Moving Forwardintroduce conflict. We’ve already seen conflict is both bad and good. It canwear us down or move us forward. In many cases, we decide its effects on us.In times of bad conflict, we must determine how to turn it into good conflict —something holding us back versus something pushing us forward. Many times,what appears as a negative situation is simply a positive event turned insideout. Don’t misunderstand. We are not playing word games or mental contortionhere. We are not simply substituting the word “opportunity” for “problem” soprevalent in our organizations these days. Using understanding, we turn a badsituation into an opportunity for advancement.Let’s understand the Five Laws of Conflict in more detail:Law #1. Where Two or More Are Gathered, ThereLaw #1. Where Two or More Are Gathered, ThereLaw #1. Where Two or More Are Gathered, ThereWill Be ConflictWill Be ConflictWill Be ConflictIt’s true. Anytime two or more people are together, you’ll experiencedifference of opinion, mannerisms,styles, personalities, cultures, backgrounds,genders, ethnicity and so forth. Each is apoint of contention. Each can generate afriction point which can erupt into positiveor negative feelings. It’s simply a fact oflife.Whether it is business life or personal, webump and grind against others’ ideas,character traits and opinions. It happens.The key is to not get stuck there, but toleverage the disagreement for somethingbetter. Using proper methods, we produce5 L5 L5 LAWSAWSAWS OFOFOF CCCONFLICTONFLICTONFLICTLLLAWAWAW #1: W#1: W#1: WHEREHEREHERE TTTWOWOWO OROROR MMMOREOREORE AAARERERE GGGATHEREDATHEREDATHERED, T, T, THEREHEREHERE WWWILLILLILL BBBEEE CCCONFLICTONFLICTONFLICTLLLAWAWAW #2: I#2: I#2: IFFF TTTHEREHEREHERE IIISSS NNNOOO CCCONFLICTONFLICTONFLICT, B, B, BEEE AAAFRAIDFRAIDFRAID ——— BBBEEE VVVERYERYERY AAAFRAIDFRAIDFRAIDLLLAWAWAW #3: T#3: T#3: THEREHEREHERE ISISIS GGGOODOODOOD CCCONFLICTONFLICTONFLICT ANDANDAND TTTHEREHEREHERE IIISSS BBBADADAD CCCONFLICTONFLICTONFLICTLLLAWAWAW #4: Y#4: Y#4: YOUOUOU MMMUSTUSTUST RRRESOLVEESOLVEESOLVE BBBADADAD CCCONFLICTONFLICTONFLICT ANDANDAND YYYOUOUOU MMMUSTUSTUST PPPROMOTEROMOTEROMOTEGGGOODOODOOD CCCONFLICTONFLICTONFLICTLLLAWAWAW #5: W#5: W#5: WHEREHEREHERE TTTHEREHEREHERE IIISSS NNNOOO CCCONFLICTONFLICTONFLICT, T, T, THEREHEREHERE IIISSS NNNOOO PPPROGRESSROGRESSROGRESS
  5. 5. Conflict: The Art of Moving ForwardConflict: The Art of Moving ForwardCopyright © David A. Zimmer, PMP, All Rights Reserved Page 5better results than originally anticipated. Ideas sharpen ideas. Discussiongenerates greater outcomes.Of course, it’s not always simple. Resolving negative conflict is key togreatness.Law #2: If There Is No Conflict, Be AfraidLaw #2: If There Is No Conflict, Be AfraidLaw #2: If There Is No Conflict, Be Afraid ——— Be Very AfraidBe Very AfraidBe Very AfraidIf there is no conflict, there is complacency. The opposite of success is notfailure, but complacency. Lack of desire. Deficiency of passion. Low energy.Forward movement requires motion. Without it, westagnate.Conflict produces progress. For example, many peoplerequire deadlines to prioritize their work. As soon asdeadlines are established, conflicts begin to arise. Onearticle must be finished just prior to another, which doesn’tleave enough time to finish the second. Under the gun, theperson presses hard to complete the first task so he hastime for the second.Or a child’s basketball game impinges on the report’sdeadline resulting in working late into the evening to finish itbefore the next day’s 9:00 am presentation.Conflict between people is natural. If a team experiences no conflict betweenits members, it means people don’t really care. High-performing teams will haveconflict. The difference between a high-performing team and a low-performingteam is the manner in which they deal with the conflict.The low-performing team will experience backbiting, anger, resentment,unresolved issues, personal insults and more. The high-performing team willsee it as an opportunity to fine-tune ideas, generate new ones and gain thebest result because of the conflict.No conflict is a sure sign that no one cares enough about the situation to putup a fight or express a contrarian opinion. Mediocre results and settling for“good enough” is the norm.We, as good stewards of the situation, cannot sit idly and let it slip into apathy.We must introduce conflict to stir the pot.Law #3: There is Good Conflict and There is Bad ConflictLaw #3: There is Good Conflict and There is Bad ConflictLaw #3: There is Good Conflict and There is Bad ConflictWe’ve already mentioned there is good conflict and bad conflict. Conflict,inherently, is neither bad nor good. It just is. How we react to it, andthen more importantly, what we do with it determines if it is good or bad.
  6. 6. Copyright © David A. Zimmer, PMP, All Rights ReservedPage 6Conflict: The Art of Moving ForwardConflict: The Art of Moving ForwardFor example, looking at personal interaction where many people feel the barbsof conflict, we can see how personal attacks are bad. But, if the person beingattacked does not react, but is proactive in dealing with the issue, the situationcan be defused and the purpose or motive behind the attack can be remedied.Unfortunately, in personal attacks, our feelings and egos react first resulting inimpoliteness, insults and other unacceptable behavior.When a person steps back and controls the situation in a positive way, theproblem can be isolated and solved. Granted, it may take time and lots ofdiscussion, but the net result should be better than when it started.Here is a key we need to understand. We must identify bad conflict and resolveit while recognizing the times when to introduce good conflict.Bad conflict is not always audible or visible. As stated earlier, apathy andcomplacency are forms of conflict but don’t appear to be “confrontational.”They are just as deadly to us as a full onslaught of argumentativeness.Additionally, there are times when we seem to have complete agreement on atopic and everything is progressing smoothly, but we need to introduce conflict.The idea is to drive the very best from our team or group, further refine ourtopic, or simply conduct further due diligence to uncover anything that has notsurfaced to this point.We will learn the various methods of detecting conflict, provide a variety of op-tions to resolving it, suggest when to introduce it and then how to drive theprocess to conclusion. For leaders of teams, whether the team is as small astwo or much larger, conflict management is a key skill to know.Law #4: You Must Resolve Bad Conflict andLaw #4: You Must Resolve Bad Conflict andLaw #4: You Must Resolve Bad Conflict andYou Must Promote Good ConflictYou Must Promote Good ConflictYou Must Promote Good ConflictIt is a statement of the obvious that bad conflict is bad and good conflict isgood. We must resolve the bad and promote the good. We’ve alreadydiscussed the truth of this axiom.Bad conflict engenders bad feelings, hurt emotions, animosity, and worse. Ifnot checked, the conflict can grow more negativewithin a person to the point of anger and otherpoor behavior, sometime even dangerousintentions. While no one likes looking down thebarrel of a gun, unresolved bad conflict becomessimilar in nature. You never know when it might gooff with dire consequences. We’ve seen newsheadlines of tragedies occurring because a personhad unresolved anger, felt slighted or didn’t getwhat they felt was properly theirs. We’ve even coined phrases to identify those
  7. 7. Conflict: The Art of Moving ForwardConflict: The Art of Moving ForwardCopyright © David A. Zimmer, PMP, All Rights Reserved Page 7circumstances as “going postal,” “going ballistic,” “having a moment or anissue,” and other idioms.On the other hand, good conflict can actually leave someone with a feeling ofaccomplishment, success or being productive. Having a conversation whereboth sides voice their opinions without any personal attacks or innuendos canproduce a feeling of euphoria. Producing a better product, service or resultsince one idea improved another idea, or new method is devised can happenbecause of the problem solving nature of the discussion.Many times in corporations, meeting participants can fall into a trap of myopicreasoning or becoming a single-mind (referred to as “group think”), so new orbetter solutions escape discussion or examination. As a result, we miss betteropportunities or processes and settle for an inferior solution. Unfortunately, weare all prone to succumbing to group think and miss the opportunity to interjecta contrarian viewpoint.Law #5: Where There Is No Conflict, There Is No ProgressLaw #5: Where There Is No Conflict, There Is No ProgressLaw #5: Where There Is No Conflict, There Is No ProgressWe stated progress is made from conflict. If we had all we ever neededin life, never had to go anywhere, no problems existed and felt nopressure, in other words, no conflict, why would we get out of bed in the morn-ing?Some say it might be for the morning run. But why run? While it might clearour minds and produce the endorphins that create a feeling of well-being, wedo it to keep our bodies in shape and healthy. If I have no desire for thehealthy lifestyle and like my current body physique, running holds no interestand therefore, there is no desire to run. I snuggle that much further under thecovers warding off the sunshine in my eyes beckoning me to another day.We are built for progress. When we ask students in our seminars how manywant to be working the same job five years from now, none raise their hands.They want to move on, progress to newer things or gain more responsibility.When asked how many want to be solving the same issues or problems, again,none raise their hands. They want progress.Problem solution, new discovery, and forward progress result from the conflictbetween what we have and what we want. Conflict shows itself throughproblems, challenges, situations to be solved and sometimes, as uneasyfeelings. When we “fix” the issues, we make progress. If there is nothing tosolve, no conflict between the present and the future, there is no need forprogress. Conflict provides the motivation to move ahead.
  8. 8. Copyright © David A. Zimmer, PMP, All Rights ReservedPage 8Conflict: The Art of Moving ForwardConflict: The Art of Moving ForwardLet’s Define ConflictLet’s Define ConflictLet’s Define ConflictWe’ve described conflict and we’ve discussed situations of conflict, butwe have not defined what conflict is. Before we go further, let’s definewhat we mean. No discussion is complete until we’ve formally defined it.According to, the definition of conflict isCCCONFLICTONFLICTONFLICT (((NOUNNOUNNOUN):):):1.1.1. AAA STATESTATESTATE OFOFOF OPENOPENOPEN,,, OFTENOFTENOFTEN PROLONGEDPROLONGEDPROLONGED FIGHTINGFIGHTINGFIGHTING;;; AAA BATTLEBATTLEBATTLE OROROR WARWARWAR2.2.2. AAA STATESTATESTATE OFOFOF DISHARMONYDISHARMONYDISHARMONY BETWEENBETWEENBETWEEN INCOMPATIBLEINCOMPATIBLEINCOMPATIBLE OROROR ANTITHETICALANTITHETICALANTITHETICAL PERSONSPERSONSPERSONS,,, IDEASIDEASIDEAS,,,OROROR INTERESTSINTERESTSINTERESTSRRRESULTSESULTSESULTS::: TENSIONTENSIONTENSIONWe see conflict has a military overtone, a fight or struggle. Two warringfactions. We’ve used analogies of two people having a disagreement, tiresrubbing against the pavement as they push the car forward and even theinternal struggle of a person. Conflict comes in many different forms, sizes andcolors. Conflict can come out of nowhere or somewhere. Bad conflict just seemsto happen while we must do something to produce good conflict.We see from the definition, conflict produces uneasiness. It puts people in amode where they can’t remain because it is too uncomfortable. Essentially, itgets them “off the dime.”Interestingly, the definition of conflict has a negative bent, yet we’ve claimedconflict can be good. How can that be? As we’ve already mentioned, conflictremoves the “roadblock” of group think which stifles thoroughness of thought.By putting people in an uncomfortable position, their thinking gets altered andnew thoughts begin to emerge.So we see conflict can be used to move forward or it can cause us to remainstuck in the current position. What is the difference between good conflict andbad conflict? Let’s compare bad against good conflict:BBBADADAD CCCONFLICTONFLICTONFLICT PPPRODUCESRODUCESRODUCES::: GGGOODOODOOD CCCONFLICTONFLICTONFLICT PPPRODUCESRODUCESRODUCES::: AAANIMOSITYNIMOSITYNIMOSITY  PPPROBLEMROBLEMROBLEM SSSOLVINGOLVINGOLVING HHHURTURTURT FFFEELINGSEELINGSEELINGS  CCCOLLABORATIONOLLABORATIONOLLABORATION GGGRUDGESRUDGESRUDGES  BBBETTERETTERETTER PPPRODUCTIVITYRODUCTIVITYRODUCTIVITY SSSNIPINGNIPINGNIPING  TTTEAMWORKEAMWORKEAMWORK HHHOSTILITYOSTILITYOSTILITY  RRRELATIONSHIPELATIONSHIPELATIONSHIP FFFORCINGORCINGORCING  MMMUTUALUTUALUTUAL RRRESPECTESPECTESPECT CCCOMPROMISINGOMPROMISINGOMPROMISING  TTTRUSTRUSTRUSTContrasting Bad vs. Good ConflictContrasting Bad vs. Good ConflictContrasting Bad vs. Good Conflict
  9. 9. Conflict: The Art of Moving ForwardConflict: The Art of Moving ForwardCopyright © David A. Zimmer, PMP, All Rights Reserved Page 9We can see bad conflict does not produce positive results. Any one of thoseresults sabotages our ability to create a team environment and gain the resultswe want. Rather, productivity suffers because of the negative environment andpeople feel many destructive emotions.On the other hand, good conflict produces the traits of high-performing teams,the qualities we need to produce the results we want and the environmentconducive to positive emotions and forward progress.Traits of Bad ConflictTraits of Bad ConflictTraits of Bad ConflictHow do we recognize traits of bad conflict? What are the tell-tale signs? Ofcourse, many times we can “hear” it by the words and tones of people,but sometimes, negative conflict is silent. Here are a few identifiablecharacteristics: Personality Focused, Disrespectful, Self-Centered and Self-Focused, Non-Adaptive, and DestructiveRather focusing on the issue, an “attacker” might focus more on a person,personality traits, or other personal peculiarity. Instead of attacking an idea, heor she might attack the person. It can be an obvious verbal slander, acondescending tone, gesture or body language and more. No matter how itmanifests, the attacked person feels belittled, maligned, embarrassed orinferior. It’s not enough to simply say, “get over it.” Enough of these attacksand the person will no longer contribute causing us all to lose.Unfortunately, we see these traits all too often. Or sometimes, we see them ina different manner. They might be exhibited as Superior Attitude, Domineering, Over-confidence, Boisterous or Loud, Obnoxiousness, and Arrogance.A common thread for all these traits is the desire to “win” through negativeactions. The person using these tactics causes negative conflict resulting in
  10. 10. Copyright © David A. Zimmer, PMP, All Rights ReservedPage 10Conflict: The Art of Moving ForwardConflict: The Art of Moving Forwarddiminished productivity and undesirable environments, which could lead toundesirable results.Traits of Good ConflictTraits of Good ConflictTraits of Good ConflictGood conflict presents itself in a different manner. During good conflict,you’ll observe People are Result Focused, Respectful, Centered on Others, Humility, Team Attitude, Adaptive, and Constructive.The team is looking to “win” for the common good, not for a particular person.Victories are shared, not personalized and progress is promoted.According to the Project Management Body of Knowledge — Fourth Edition,published by the Project Management Institute, bad conflict will exhibit itself inthe following ways: Forcing Smoothing Withdrawing, and Compromising.ForcingForcingForcing ——— DominanceDominanceDominanceForcing is pretty easy to identify. Usually it is notphysical with someone twisting another person’s arm,but is more verbal or emotional. Sometimes the verbaldiatribe is easily heard because of the volume, butmany times, it is simply the tone. As parents, wesometimes resort to this tactic todiscipline our children, although it is not always thebest way to handle the situation. In emergencies, aleader gives directives which some might considerforcing.In a work situation, very rarely is this methodacceptable. It should not be permitted to happen inmeetings or similar situations.
  11. 11. Conflict: The Art of Moving ForwardConflict: The Art of Moving ForwardCopyright © David A. Zimmer, PMP, All Rights Reserved Page 11To resolve such a situation, a facilitator — an objective third party — can helpboth sides focus on the important issues and keeps the forcer from theimproper behavior.SmoothingSmoothingSmoothing ——— Minimizing DifferencesMinimizing DifferencesMinimizing DifferencesSmoothing involves diminishing the differences people are experiencing. Ratherthan discussing the issues and coming to a better conclusion, the participantsminimize the disparity and do not resolve anything. Such a remedy results inissues surfacing later. Emotions are not settled. Solutions don’t exist. Inaddition to the original issue, new ones get created. Essentially, smoothingonly covers the wound with a band-aid while the infection festers beneath thesurface.To resolve smoothing, a facilitator must engage both sides to focus on thedifferences. In doing so, the facilitator will introduce additional conflict toovercome the original conflict. The goal is to eliminate the source of conflictand create a satisfactory result.WithdrawingWithdrawingWithdrawing ——— Backing Down or Walking AwayBacking Down or Walking AwayBacking Down or Walking AwayWithdrawing is the classic where someone blows up and storms out of theroom. They withdrew themselves from the situation. Sometimes, a personsimply becomes quiet and no longer puts up a fight. Heor she may be quiet on the outside, but on the inside, heis fuming. This might look like a “forcing” situation, butin actuality, the participant has acquiesced. He hasn’tgiven up, he’s simply quiet.This situation needs to be defused. It is still a volcanoready to erupt, usually at the worse moment. To resolvethe situation, the participants should wait a short periodof time to get emotions in check, write down the root issues and then discussthem. A facilitator can help direct the conversation to stay on track and keeppersonal attacks at bay. By discussing the issues and keeping emotions incheck, both parties can come to resolution.CompromisingCompromisingCompromising ——— Giving Up NeedsGiving Up NeedsGiving Up NeedsEveryone knows what compromising is. In fact, we believe we shouldcompromise over differences so we can solve the situation. Unfortunately,compromising is not really good. Why? Because we have to “give up”something in order to achieve. As a result, we feel short-changed, but we salvethe feeling by saying we did it for the good of the situation. Unfortunately, afterenough compromising, we don’t feel satisfied anymore.Some people confuse compromising with negotiation. Negotiating is completelydifferent. In negotiating, we first decide our needs, wants and “chips” — those
  12. 12. Copyright © David A. Zimmer, PMP, All Rights ReservedPage 12Conflict: The Art of Moving ForwardConflict: The Art of Moving Forwardthings of importance or value to the other party that don’t matter much to us.In negotiating, we use our chips to show the other side we are willing tocooperate by giving something of value to them. They, in turn, do the same.The “wants” are desirable attributes of the deal, but are not necessary. As inbuying a car, we might decide the top-end stereo system would be nice, butwe’re willing to give it up in order to lower the price.Once we’ve given up all our wants and tossed the chips, and if we have notreached agreement with the other side, we walk away from the table. We donot give up our needs, otherwise, it will not be a satisfactory deal no matterhow good it might look.In compromising, we start out at the need level. We give away our needs inorder to reach agreement causing us to not really feel satisfied.When in a conflict situation where we must compromise, the best method ofresolution is to adjourn for a period of time so we can determine the needs andwants of the circumstances. With our list in front of us, now we can negotiate asolution and not compromise.General Guidelines for Resolving Bad ConflictGeneral Guidelines for Resolving Bad ConflictGeneral Guidelines for Resolving Bad ConflictHere are some general guidelines to follow when resolving conflict:1. Show respect. Nothing irritates people more quickly than disrespect. Whensomeone feels disrespected, he or she either lashes out in anger or retreatsinto a shell. It is a rare person who can take disrespect for very long with-out some emotional response. In either case, they stop listening, startresisting and the possibility for resolution quickly diminishes. Showingrespect is the fastest way to bridge the gap and bring down the defensivewalls.2. Listen Objectively. By putting aside our biases and prejudices, we can hearwhat the other person is saying more clearly. Objective listening is activelistening without preconception with a pinch of empathy and actuallyunderstanding the other viewpoint. As the adagestates, “You don’t understand another man’s roaduntil you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.” Youdon’t understand the other person’s viewpointuntil you’ve really listened and understand theheart and soul of the message. When you put thateffort into listening, the other person sees it, feelsrespected and heard. And in many cases, that isall they need and the situation is resolved.
  13. 13. Conflict: The Art of Moving ForwardConflict: The Art of Moving ForwardCopyright © David A. Zimmer, PMP, All Rights Reserved Page 133. Promote The Good of Both Sides. Both sides of the dispute has its goodpoints and its bad points. Show respect, listen objectively and then promotethe good of both sides. Spit out the bad points just like a cow rejects thestumble and rocks in its hay. A cow simply drops the undesirables off to theside and moves onto the next bite. It doesn’t stare at the deposits andbring them back up. It lets them lay there.4. Don’t Let Either Side Revert To Negative Conflict. Forward progress will bemade using this method of overcoming negative conflict. Don’t slipbackward by letting one or both sides of the argument revert to negativetactics. Simply remind them of these guidelines — call them “rules ofengagement,” if you like.5. Work Towards and Come To A Conclusion. Both parties must have oneunifying goal—to come to a satisfactory conclusion for both sides. Acommon goal of reaching a mutually satisfying conclusion will help bothsides stay engaged while discussion, and progress, happens. During thediscussion, respect and trust can and will increase if these guidelines arefollowed. A key to a mutually satisfying result are the emotions felt at theend. Is there mutual respect? Can both sides trust the other to hold to theagreement? Have tempers been cooled and both sides felt heard? Theseare the emotional items, that if not reached, cause future negative conflict.Looking at Good ConflictLooking at Good ConflictLooking at Good ConflictWe’ve explored bad conflict in depth, so let’s understand more aboutgood conflict, what it looks like, and most importantly, how tointroduce it.As we’ve stated, good conflict pushes us forward. Through it, we producebetter results than if it were not introduced. It causes people to think laterally,or outside-the-box. We can get stuck in a rut, “we’ve always done it that way”mentality or stymied by the shear inertia of having to change.Good conflict produces good feelings between people — mutual respect, trustand camaraderie. It sometimes exhibits itself in similar ways as bad conflicts,but differs because both parties involved know the confrontation is not todamage but to improve the situation.Think of a sports analogy. In a football game, the wide receiver may havemissed his route causing the pass to be incomplete. The quarterback, becauseof the adrenaline, may appear to be angry and might be voicing his concernlouder than he normally would, but instructs the receiver where to be nexttime. The receiver does not feel attacked or berated. He knew better andrealizes the quarterback is not yelling at him, but helping him for the
  14. 14. Copyright © David A. Zimmer, PMP, All Rights ReservedPage 14Conflict: The Art of Moving ForwardConflict: The Art of Moving Forwardbetterment of both. To be received properly, both participants understand,respect and trust each other so the confrontation, or conflict, turns positive.We see this in our everyday lives as we work with others. They have ideas andwe have ideas. The ideas might clash. We work through the ideas, picking thegood ones and leaving the less useful ones behind. The discussion mightbecome a bit heated at times because of the passion and enthusiasm bothparties bring to the table, but both sides realize the discussion produces betterresults. They realize it is not a personal attack.Good conflict exhibits itself in a number of ways. We see it in teamwork,common goals, shared language and mutual dependence. The ultimateobjective is to produce the best outcome possible.Signs of Good ConflictSigns of Good ConflictSigns of Good ConflictGood conflict occurs in an environment of High performance teams Mutual dependence Shared language Common goals Reciprocated respect Single purpose Goal oriented Focused outcomePeople introduce good conflict while Problem solving Collaborating Cooperating Generating new ideas Seeking a common solution, a better solution Engaging in respectful two-way dialoguesHow do we get to this promised land? How do we interject good conflict intosituations to produce better results? We use the tools we’ve been using foryears: Establish ground rules of team conduct, Create rules of engagement for resolving and introducing conflict, Eliminate bad conflict,
  15. 15. Conflict: The Art of Moving ForwardConflict: The Art of Moving ForwardCopyright © David A. Zimmer, PMP, All Rights Reserved Page 15 Encourage participation by all team members, Use information-gathering activities such as brainstorming, mind-mapping,focus groups and facilitated workshops, which lead to mutual dependenceand respect among all parties, Interject ideas and counterpoints into discussions to elicit differentviewpoints or reactions, Summarize the current results periodically and ask what might make thembetter, Use open questions starting with How, What, When, Where and Why, Recognize and praise individuals along the way and the group collectivelyas progress is made, And above all, thank participants when a conclusion is reached.Following these guidelines, we can lead our teams to resolving bad conflict andusing good conflict to move forward, to make progress in our endeavors.ConclusionConclusionConclusionConflict is neither good nor bad. It simply is. How we react to it determinesthe state of negativity or positivity. We can take a situation and turn itfrom evil to good and come closer to our vision or desired results. It is ourresponse that creates the outcome.Remember:1. There will always be conflict between people. Maintain proper reaction tothe circumstances to reach the preferred conclusion.2. No conflict means little passion or interest. Lack of passion or interestproduces poor results. Poor results are unacceptable. Passionate peoplewant to achieve a higher level outcome, so their passion may causeconflict. Turn the conflict positive.3. Conflict can be either bad or good. It depends on how its handled. Handledproperly, it produces outcomes wanted.4. Bad conflict destroys, good conflict builds. You choose which outcome youwant and guide those involved to that ending.5. Complete agreement produces mediocre results — conflict produces thebest results. Once positive conflict enters the picture and a better solutionis determined, gain agreement from all parties involved.
  16. 16. Conflict. Something everyone wants to avoid. We want smoothsailing, calm waters, sunny skies and warm breezes. We don’t wantanything to rock our boats.But, we’ve learned over time, conflict is necessary for progress. In somecases, conflict generates the ideas we need to move us forward in our jobsand personal lives. It is the “uncomfortableness” of conflict that causes usto get up and do something about our situation, to discover a newmethod, or progress to a particular goal.In this paper, you’ll learn The differences between bad conflict and good conflict, How to differentiate one from the other, Common signs indicating a negative situation exists and must be fixed, Methods of overcoming bad conflict and introducing good conflict, and The 5 Laws of Conflict.Based upon real-world, fire-tested experience and research,Mr. Zimmer provides insights into conflict management where many areafraid to tread. Managing projects for close to thirty years, he’sencountered his share of conflict.Additionally, he’s been known to kick up some conflict. Using theinformation contained in this paper, he usually “wins” and his teams win.You benefit from his experience and knowledge. Read this paper.The Project Professorsc/o American Eagle GroupPO Box 703Warrington, PA 18976+1/215.491.2544info@ameagle.comwww.ameagle.comDavid A. Zimmer, PMP helps organizations develop and implementstrategies by leveraging best practices of market research, businessanalysis and project management to continuously improve processesand results. One client decreased theirtime to manufacturing by two weeksand lowered the defect rates by 25%simply by implementing hissuggestions.A published author and recognizedspeaker, Mr. Zimmer’s training isconsistently rated the best and mosteffective. Additionally, he is availablefor speaking engagements.