Navigating conflict when the ship hits the fan

Being knowledgeable and aware of the sources of conflict is a rising tide that can lift your team and organizational boat.

Part I of this series defined conflict in an organizational and system context. While Part II offered ways conflict can “make an entrance” and show up in organizations and systems like Kramer in Seinfeld.

This part shares the following sources of conflict and provides a practice to get your sea legs.

  • Differing expectations
  • Competing goals
  • Interpersonal relations
  • Conflicting interests
  • Confusing communications

Here’s a five-minute practice to get this idea onboard.

  • Think about a conflict (aka, disagreement or dissatisfaction) you’ve recently experienced
  • Write down the source(s) of the conflict from your perspective
  • Write down the source(s) your collaborator(s), partner(s), and teammate(s) see from their perspective(s) – “I don’t know” is completely acceptable response.
  • What do you notice?

This regular practice can be a ripe opportunity for your team and organization to grow, change, align, and rapidly progress – leading to these cultural and operational game-changers.

  • Creative, collaborative agreements
  • Shared goals
  • Mutual help & support
  • Common interests
  • Clarity & transparency

How do you and others navigate through the ‘deep waters’ of organization and system conflict? Be on the lookout for Part IV in this series.


Written by: Mike Rozinsky, Founder and Principal RZNSKY LLC and Ombuds at Brandeis University

Part III in a series defining, identifying sources and symptoms of, and understanding responses to organizational and system conflict.

Originally published on February 13, 2020 on LinkedIn

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