Business Forum, Career, Member Connections Newsletter

Business Forum: Flip It! Turning Conflict Into Opportunity


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Ugh! Conflict. No matter how you look at it, it stinks. Or does it? According to a Harvard Law School Special Report on managing conflict, 75% of employees report positive outcomes from conflict that would have not been realized without it. Seriously, conflict can be one of the best things to happen to you if you turn it into opportunity. So, let’s flip it!

Learn and Grow
Use conflict as a growth opportunity by learning how your co-workers or employees think during conflict. This is valuable information you might not be privy to during “usual” office situations.

Improve Communication
Gain communication insight to understand where the problem stems from. It might easily be avoided by simply opening a dialogue with your staff and improving communication.

Boost Morale
By listening to what everyone has to say, everyone can agree to the problem and develop a plan to solve it. When a team contributes to the betterment of a situation, it leads to overall employee improvement and increased morale.

Boost Productivity
Getting to the bottom of conflict and quickly resolving it, allows all parties involved to cool down and let the situation go. Without being distracted by meaningless rhetoric, employees can concentrate on the work at hand. It’s a win/win for everyone.

Improve Negotiation Skills
Look at the situation as a way to improve or gain a new skill. Finding middle ground is a technique which conflict can provide. Make sure to pay attention to what you did and what you said during resolution efforts.

Gain Support
When understanding is reached, sometimes a friend is gained who can become a valuable connection for your future business or career success. Likewise, you may just be the one who connects them to a new position or business opportunity.

How have you turned conflict into an opportunity? If you’ve encountered conflict in the past, tell us about how you flipped it into a positive.

We want to hear from you! Let us know the answers to these questions below. And, feel free to share your tips about turning conflict into opportunity.


Megan Bozzuto


  1. Beth Planzer, LPCC
    May 8, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    What a great reframing of the impact of conflict! The tricky part is knowing how to initiate and resolve conflict effectively without tearing down the other person or feeling flattened yourself. It helps when an entire team is trained to look at conflict as an opportunity to Create a Solution and QTIP. Quit Taking It Personally! I sometimes give clients an actual Q-Tip in a small plastic bag to keep in their desk drawer or on their person to help them remember the acronym for those times when they are dealing with difficult people or situations.

  2. Linda Edington
    May 8, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    I have learned that to effectively resolve conflict situations, one must determine the appropriate response, that not one conflict management style is appropriate for every situation. . Determining assertiveness and cooperativeness using the Thomas-Kilmann model is extremely valuable. Sometimes avoiding is reasonable and other times conflict can be resolved through compromising, accommodating, competing or collaboration. It is first critical to acknowledge a conflict exists and then assess for the most effective response.

    • Betsy Berry
      June 28, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      Thank you very much for pointing the discussion in the direction of this helpful model of communicating styles useful for conflict resolution. Slowly rewriting or re-stating the theoretical model with illustrations in my notes was a great learning technique for me.

      I like the Q-TIP analogy as well!

      A little research resulted in several thoughtful websites with articles that other NAPW members may also find useful:

      Manage Train Learn!

      University of Northern Iowa Business Communications Program

  3. Kelley Chrouser
    June 30, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    I love this brief article for a number of reasons. First, it makes it clear that conflict can be useful and produce truly desirable outcomes. Second, the author “frames” potential outcomes from a positive perspective in a way that provides readers methods for dealing with conflict in ways that are more likely to produce desirable outcomes.

    I have taught conflict at undergraduate and graduate levels. To be honest, most American based learners frame conflict from a negative perspective, but I’ve always believed that conflict is often a sign of organizational or interpersonal health. Only people who are invested or engaged bother to position or develop oppositional rhetoric, and honoring conflict can produce even deeper engagement if all voices are genuinely heard.

    I believe it is also important, however, to emphasize that sometimes there is no real solution and no room for compromise while still honoring the voice of opposition. When I frame conflict in organizational development, most participants tend toward compromise or “win-win” solutions as the ideal outcome. From a perspective that examines “stasis” it is imperative to first look at where the opposing view points actually clash. Sometimes the clash centers on a value or ethical standard that should never be compromised. In those instances, it is important to stand firm. It doesn’t mean, however, the conversation should be over. It does mean that additional communication that punctuates the point of clash, illuminates the necessity for standing firm, and highlights the moral imperative or value is necessary to for continued team or group evolution. In short, in this case it remains a teaching moment but not one that centers on the process of arriving at a group-based resolution, but rather one that defines organizational or personal value and ethical standards.