💊 Does conflict in innovation processes need to come at a cost in the workplace?

At work, we get to come together as teams and, as a collective, have eureka moments. But like all things great in life, these moments often involve frequently undergoing complexity and some unpleasantness.

For example, often a fervent creative session involves receiving challenging feedback or disagreeing with teammates about a solution(s), which can make us feel a difficult handful of emotions.

Fortunately, conflict as part of innovation does not need to come at the expense of harmony. Conflict does need some simple aftercare and it is here that gratitude has proven to be an antidote to more than simple anger. If we know how to do it correctly, we can add to, update and challenge one another’s ideas all the time and co-create winning solutions much faster.

Read on to learn why gratitude has an enormous role to play in conflict aftercare and how to make use of it.

To work with your emotions productively, you can practice gratitude at three levels: internally, in person or as a public expression. You might do one or a combination of these.

✅ Interior gratitude is done internally and privately, perhaps as a list, daily reflection or a point-in-time check-in with yourself when you are feeling wound up after a disagreement. Be grateful you had a push to learn and improve your idea, product, project or self.

📍 Founder of Mental Toughness University, Steve Siebald, says this is the best way to “let go” of negative, stress-inducing emotions and connect to your processes with ever-sharp creativity.

✅ Say “thank you” to the person or people you interacted with and express why the interaction was helpful.

📍 Social scientist Arthur C. Clarke says acting grateful triggers true gratitude. That’s not as hokey or insincere as it sounds since expressing gratitude means you actively drop the negative thoughts and behaviours that detract from it.

Be careful: When you feel ashamed of how an interaction went, you may feel compelled to say “sorry”. What you may actually want to say is “thank you”.

✅ A public expression of gratitude. Send multiple people an email thanking them for a great session, share the “conflict” as part of key learning in a weekly meeting, or give digital kudos using your work communication tool.

Studies have shown that gratitude:

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The Bottom Line?

When perspectives necessarily clash, take care to temper the damaging effects of conflict and sharpen your creativity with the power of gratitude. And remember to be inclusive by being culturally sensitive and context-aware when you express gratitude.

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