“Conflict can destroy a team which hasn’t spent time learning to deal with it.” -Thomas Isgar

Conflict can be good. Through healthy conflict, new and better ideas emerge. With the right focus, conflict allows teams to find the best way to move forward as opposed to only one person’s way. Unhealthy conflict leads to heightened emotions, stalled progress, and more conflict.

How do you ensure you and your team are prepared to have the good kind versus the bad kind?

It starts with you. Having the right attitude is a huge factor. Do not seek out conflict, do not avoid it either. Conflict is inevitable, you need to focus on how evaluating competing viewpoints will lead to a better outcome.

Next, you need to be prepared with the right techniques to engage in healthy disagreements. Here are 15 tips and techniques to employ for keeping things in the “good zone” in debates:

  1. Pick your battles wisely
  2. Don’t hold a conflict when you’re angry, emotional, or upset
  3. Disagreement should not be personal
  4. You want to validate your coworker’s opinion
  5. Maintain your professionalism
  6. Understand what your coworker needs, fears, and hopes to obtain from the solution
  7. Only speak for yourself
  8. Step back from your job and how you perform a particular activity
  9. Avoid interrogating your coworker
  10. State the facts (if you have any) and share your knowledge
  11. Speak to common interests and needs
  12. Listen to try to see your coworker’s point of view
  13. Avoid putting down your coworker’s beliefs, interests, and ideas
  14. The goal is not to win but to clear the air in any disagreement at work
  15. Compromise when necessary

The 12th tip is particularly powerful: “Listen to try to see your coworker’s point of view. In a successful disagreement setting, both coworkers can state clearly the other party’s position on the issue and the reasoning behind their position. If you can’t, examine your listening.” For more details on these tips and how to use them, read this article.

Finally, work to understand the expectations that your workplace hold around conflict. These include the processes and templates that might be employed more formally on your project. They also include things unique to your company culture. Always ask to be clear on these sometimes, “unwritten rules.”

Next time a conflict arises, remember these tips and help make a disagreement produce positive results.