When Brainstorming Leads to Storming Out (Workplace Conflict)

Today, companies are expected to seek more collaborative approaches to project management & completion, policyowner development & overall satisfaction in the workplace. For companies with longstanding policies & procedures, who need to keep pace, this transition can be difficult.


Opening up the doors to truly listen to what people around you need to think & say can be a challenge for some management team members to act on. How does sort out the nice from the bad, the legitimate concern from the stomach aching? In addition, the multitude of voices may not be singing in harmony.
Individual expectations & hopes of team members are often divergent. Each team member has a different role & therefore contributes emotionally & creatively in a distinctive fashion, this can contribute to healthy conflict & brilliant insight.

How is that feasible? If they keep in mind that conflict & disputes are found on different ends of a spectrum & when they are treated mindfully brilliant things can happen. Conflict regularly exists without the necessity for a dispute. An example of this might be friends who have a preference for different kinds of ice cream. Both hold the belief that their flavour is better than someone else but it does not inherently lead to any kind of escalation of conflict between them. Disputes however are the articulation of conflict when it manifests in to something more official.

To give you a workplace example of conflict leading to a dispute, only need look in to the boardrooms of an organization carrying on a brainstorming session. When individuals are asked to sit with each other in a boardroom & collaborate to generate ideas, truly creative & brilliant outcomes can be generated by the group. It is the actual inherent conflict between team members in perspectives that generates ideas & thoughts which can generate new solutions, possibilities, & pave new paths.

If however, the group leader sets no boundaries to carve out the limitations on feedback to ideas then disputes can find their genesis between group members. All it might take is comment, or a misguided joke from a group member that leads to someone feeling as though their ideas are less worthy than the rest. The feeling created by the exchange can sow the seeds of a dispute if escalation follows the exchange.

How can the group leader set proper boundaries? A speedy conversation at the beginning of the brainstorming session to clearly describe the purpose of the session, & the validity of every idea generated. A reminder that feedback is not paramount to brainstorming, the generation of ideas is what is most important.

The group leader's role does not finish there however. It is essential that they also play an active role in monitoring the commentary within the group & keep a watchful eye on the dynamics of the group. As the session continues it is imperative that the leader ensures that everybody continues to feel validated & valuable avoiding someone from storming out.

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