Nancy Ortberg once noted that “Conflict the only way to intimacy.” While I’m not convinced it’s the “only” way to intimacy, I do believe that when handled well conflict can create increase respect, spark creativity, and give birth a better project, idea, or initiative.
I know people who thrive in the midst of conflict. Their come alive and find enjoyment in tension and disagreement. I prefer to hide under the table cloth. I’m not sure why, but ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been afraid of conflict. I remember hearing my parents raise their voices and thinking a loud verbal exchange equaled divorce. I’d go to my bedroom, pull the sheets over my head, and beg for it to stop. Though my parents assured me that it was natural for people to disagree, I didn’t like it one bit.
I still don’t love conflict, but I’m learning the power of creative conflict. Leif and I call it the “push back.” We use this term to describe the moments when we disagree but don’t want to settle for mere disagreement—we want to engage, converse, search out the best possible solution. We want to identify the core issue of what’s bothering us—whether it’s the idea, wordage, execution, tone, expression or timing. As we talk with each other—editors, producers, customers, listeners, event planners—we find ourselves developing bigger and better ideas and initiatives thanks to creative conflict. In the process, we grow closer to each other and those who we work and serve along side.
How do you encourage healthy creative conflict in your workplace, relationships, everyday life?
How do you disagree in such a way that brings the best out of other people (and yourself)?
*Photo courtesy of here