A lot of small business owners don’t like conflict, so they avoid it. There can be problems inside your company between employees or controversial policies with your staff or customers. But more progress can be made in your company if you “choose sides”, and not be neutral.
On The Small Business Radio Show this week, I talked with the authors of “The Neutrality Trap: Disrupting and Connecting for Social Change” about how avoiding conflict doesn’t benefit small business.
Bernard Mayer, PhD is an internationally recognized leader in the field of conflict intervention. He is Professor Emeritus of Conflict Studies at Creighton University and was a founding partner of CDR Associates, a pioneering conflict intervention and training firm. Jacqueline N. Font-Guzmán, PhD, JD, MHA is a Fulbright scholar with vast experience in conflict, healthcare, academia, and the legal system. She is an experienced lawyer, mediator, and facilitator. She serves as the inaugural Executive Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Eastern Mennonite University and Professor in their Center for Justice and Peacebuilding.
According to Bernie, “The Neutrality Trap” is that whenever there is a conflict, many people hide behind the statement that they are “neutral” and avoid dealing with real issues that need to be addressed. Jackie adds that “by not taking a position on an issue, you are still taking a stance. That position helps sustain the conflict that is already in place… You need to take a side.”
Bernie says that in any organization, “constructive conflict” is essential for change. In any small business, conflict does advance change according to Jackie; “Lack of conflict will lead to stagnation in your company. Leaders need to understand that conversations about these issues are happening anyways (inside your company), so they should be engaged with instead of avoided.
Listen to the full interview to understand how to engage your employees in constructive conflict.
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Image: Bernie Mayer