Embrace ideological conflict. (Don't always "take it offline.")

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Embrace ideological conflict

“Hey, let’s take this conversation offline,” you say.

Sometimes, that means, “This sounds like an interpersonal problem that you two (or we two) need to resolve separately.”

Sometimes it means, “That challenge only affects your teams, so solve it yourself without taking up time for the rest of us.”

And sometimes it means, “This conversation is making me uncomfortable, and I’m not prepared to address it right now.”

Personal issues probably should be resolved privately most of the time.

But as your circle of influence grows, you’ll face a growing number of uncomfortable conversations. A habit of “taking them offline” will get in the way of growing your skills and your relationships. Welcoming challenges to your thinking with gratitude and an open mind will create the psychological safety that lets your team be authentic and vulnerable. It also lets you tap into exponentially more wisdom and insight than you’ll have alone.

And as your responsibilities continue to grow, you’ll encounter ideological conflict between two of your team members who both believe they are speaking in the best interest of the company and their teams. It’s tempting to send those conversations offline as well. But here’s what can happen if you invite them to continue:

1️⃣ Both sides get the benefit of broad perspective when their colleagues speak up. Most conflicts like this have invisible ripple effects that they won’t uncover in a private conversation.

2️⃣ You get the chance to monitor the conversation to ensure it doesn’t devolve into an interpersonal conflict with ad hominem attacks.

3️⃣ The rest of the team gets an opportunity to observe how to reach a win-win conclusion.

4️⃣ You reinforce the importance of revealing when this kind of conflict exists. Hiding, ignoring, or denying ideological conflict only amplifies miscommunication. By inviting public and immediate exploration and resolution, you encourage your team to create a culture of openness and trust.

Next time you want to say, “Let’s take this offline”, take a silent moment or two to consider what value may come of allowing that conflict to work to resolution.

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