Transforming Conflict into Collaboration

Transforming conflict during a business meeting

Conflicts are inevitable in our day-to-day lives. Instead of causing undue stress, however, disagreements can be viewed as opportunities for growth when we work on transforming conflict into collaboration – whether in the workplace or outside of the office.


Although conflict is a normal aspect of life, it can still cause varying degrees of frustration, pain, discomfort, sadness, and anger. We often disagree with family members and friends, as well as managers and coworkers. But that doesn’t have to necessarily lead to an argument.

Conflict often occurs in the workplace because many organizations hire employees from a wide range of geographical locations with differing cultural and intellectual backgrounds, as well as diverse viewpoints. Disagreements are inevitable in a working environment where people have contrasting views on the same issue.

The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) assesses five conflict modes:

  • Competing
  • Collaborating
  • Compromising
  • Avoiding
  • Accommodating

TKI can be used as a leadership tool in order to facilitate the discussion of difficult issues and the understanding of the effects conflict-handling modes have on the dynamics of an organization, group, and individual.


The goal of collaboration is to bring people together to achieve something that they could not necessarily accomplish alone. It is also to meet the needs of all individuals in an integrative way. Ideally, it leads to each person owning a reasonable share of the available solution.

There are many benefits to working collaboratively, including better performance, higher retention, and higher profitability. A company’s performance is significantly improved through collaboration between its employees, customers, and stakeholders.

The five principles of collaboration consist of:

  • Applying Trust
  • Respect
  • Willingness
  • Empowerment
  • Effective Communication to Human Relationships

As you can see, effective collaboration has several components that work together to aid in the realization of a robust, positive workplace. Just as employees should not work as silos, these principles should also not be only employed separately.

The Importance of Transforming Conflict into Collaboration

Managing and resolving conflict in any company is integral to meeting organizational goals. Understanding what conflict and collaboration mean and how to transform the former into the latter will allow leaders to be able to more effectively decide on preventative strategies for the future.

Establishing conflict management processes in a business is as fundamental as instituting a positive company culture. Leading by example, celebrating diverse personalities, and learning about disparate cultures helps leaders help their team members to welcome and appreciate the wisdom of collaboration. After all, the results people achieve when they collaborate successfully are much better and the impact they make much greater than if they worked alone.

Determining the goals you want to reach is also important when creating a collaborative workplace. Additionally, to generate better ideas among your team through collaboration, leaders can set the proper expectations and commit to what is required to achieve those goals. This can mean ensuring the technology needed is available, as well as employing active listening skills, among many other actionable strategies.

Focus on Finding Solutions

If you’re ready to transform conflict into collaboration to drive results and promote success, we’d love to discuss how we can help your organization. MD Consulting is building better leaders and maximizing performance in leaders around the world, so let’s strategize together to improve your influence and help you lead an accomplished and successful team.

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