There is no way to prevent conflict in the workplace, not that you’d want to. Conflict, while sometimes uncomfortable, can lead to innovation, creativity and collaboration. But good things don’t necessarily stem from conflict automatically, especially in the workplace. In order to reap the benefits conflict offers and avoid the toxic side effects that can often result, a proactive strategy is required to anticipate unhealthy conflict and prepare for it in advance.
In the work environment, these preemptive approaches are detailed in relationship contracts.
Relationship contracts present myriad benefits to professional partnerships: they outline expectations and commitments; they determine communication frequency and timelines; they establish conflict protocol.
The greatest advantage to conflict protocol is that it helps prevent issues from becoming personal. A well thought out approach includes well defined boundaries and an agreed-to plan on how to overcome obstacles and missed expectations. Once that is handled effectively, working relationships can strengthen, solutions can emerge, and creativity can blossom.
Here are 5 elements of conflict management that should be included in every professional relationship contract: