Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Conflict Can Be Good by Barbara Baggerly-Hinojosa

With over one third of our public high school students failing to graduate each year, we are beginning to realize the effects of undereducated citizens in our communities.  

Many of our students are driven away from school for a variety of reasons, one of which may have originated from conflict. 

We have always heard that we should avoid conflict, that conflict isn’t good, and that conflict is a sign of an organization or family with troubles.  According to George Kohlrieser, author of Hostage at the Table, constructive conflict is actually a good thing.  Kohlrieser describes constructive conflict as that which we can learn to manage so that the idea of conflict has a positive rather than negative connotation.

“Conflict can be defined as a difference between two or more persons or groups characterized by tension, emotionality, disagreement, and polarization when bonding is broken or completely lacking.”  At the root of all conflict is a broken relationship.  The content of the conflict is generally not the problem.  We must realize that, in the end, all conflicts can be resolved.

Conflict must be seen as a challenge, a problem to be solved, an opportunity, and something positive.  Conflict can reflect a certain kind of energy and commitment to a team or organization.  Many teams and groups can become high performing as a result of the candid discussions that occur during conflict.  

Leaders, teachers, parents, coaches, etc. must learn to like handling conflict because it is a natural part of human relationships.  Handled well, the differences between people can lead to creative problem solving and higher performance that can lead to personal and professional growth.

Learning to manage conflict can help us all live richer lives.  When we understand the constructive aspects of conflict, we are better able to manage and deal with it.  As we all work to improve our schools and our communities, lets try to resolve conflicts, keep students in school, and build our relationships with others.

Here are some points to remember when dealing with conflict:

  • Discuss the issues.  Lay everything out on the table and discuss the conflict.
  • See the positive.  As you go about your day, look for friends not enemies.
  • Conflict is a source of creativity.  Recognize that conflict can be a major source of creativity and a potential for innovation.

Barbara Baggerly-Hinojosa is a wife, mother, and educator living in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.  She is a PhD student with Our Lady of the Lake University in Leadership Studies.  Mrs. Baggerly-Hinojosa is the President of the Leadership Empowerment Group, LLC. and is currently researching the relationship between the leadership of the high school principal and the high school drop out rate.  Mrs. Baggerly-Hinojosa is the author of Are You A Ten?  The Ten Characteristics of a Servant Leader.   For ordering information, please contact Mrs. Baggerly-Hinojosa at , visit, or follow Leadership Empowerment Group, LLC. on Facebook.

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