When it comes to creativity in conflict, is it safe to say that there are positive and negative sides to conflict?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The article "Creative Conflict" by Mark Gorkin explains how the combination of frazzled egos, the resistance to change, and the inability to be flexible can actually be made into earmarks that can tell great information to a new leader about the workplace that he or she will manage.

The article can be summarized with the last sentence when it says:

the tension and struggle inherent in conflict sows its own seed for innovative resolution and growth.

The reason why this is possible is because, as the article states, if a leader can remove his or her own affect from conflict and focus on the dynamics that are taking place, patterns can be traced and correlations will pop up. For example, by allowing people to express their anger at changes, or their frustration at the management, the leader can identify who are the problematic employees and this way the leader can start separating them (mentally) from the good workers.

This approach leads to social learning when the leader automatically begins to trust and praise the good workers openly while debilitating and taking away the power of the problematic ones. In turn, the problematic employee may want to partake of the benefits of the good employees, such as the trust of the leader, the attention of the leader, and even the perks that come with loyalty which are a reality in the corporate world. Slowly but surely, the leader will allow the conflict to dissolve itself.

The process of exploring patterns of behavior, making the correlations, and identifying causative factors (and persons) for conflict is called in the article "Conceive and Commune". It is described literally as

analogical thinking - discovering a partial similarity between like features of two things on which a comparison may be based. And if the comparison finds unexpected likeness or yields a surprising connection... the result is not only imaginative, but may be amusing as well.

Therefore, Gorkin argues that the cons of conflict are based on the energy that they produce: it is frustrating, it involves confrontation, it wastes time and energy, and it creates animosity in the workplace.

However, when the "feelings" (affect) is removed and the leader is able to see the true nature of the conflict, and of the people who cause it, major analogies can be formed that will help explain the source of the bad seeds that poison the workplace. As a result, the leader will have ample opportunities to put a plan into action that will ease the situation at work.

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