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At The Spotlight: Liane Davey on the Dangers of Conflict Debt

At The Spotlight: Liane Davey on the Dangers of Conflict Debt

The “teamwork doctor” herself joined us in our office for an exclusive client event to talk conflict in the workplace. Instead of spouting the all too familiar message of “can’t we all just get along?”, Liane Davey encouraged us to embrace conflict not only for our own sanity but also for the good of our organizations.

“Conflict is not inherently negative, it is simply the struggle between things that are in tension with one another, and we have 800 of those in the average day.”

She introduced the concept of conflict debt to us. It accumulates much the same as financial debt. We charge purchases with the promise to pay it off with our next paycheque; we “charge” conflict by ignoring it and saying we’ll deal with it later. Like credit card debt though, we often ignore it and it builds up, which results in resentment and drains us of energy and engagement.

Dive deeper into this concept in the video below:

Drawing on real-world examples, Liane applied conflict debt on an organizational level to show how deep conflict debt can go and how it affects an organization from the ground up.

“Employees were becoming disengaged and the customers were becoming disengaged because the executive team couldn’t have a hard conversation.”

To end the presentation, Liane left us with tips to better manage conflict and keep what can be tense conversations productive instead of turning into a fight.

One of our favourite tips: Use hypotheticals. If someone rejects your idea, don’t just contradict them. Validate their objection first, and then put it to the side and ask them about your idea using a hypothetical situation. This will get them visualizing about what’s possible in a safe, hypothetical space, which could lead to them getting excited about the opportunity and seeing solutions instead of just problems.

Having worked with organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, from across the globe helping teams from the frontlines to the boardroom, Liane Davey has developed a unique perspective on the challenges that teams face — and how to solve them. Her mission is to transform the way people communicate, connect, and contribute to make an immediate impact on their organizations.

Interested in learning more about Liane and productive conflict in the workplace? Email us at [email protected].