What Have You Learned About Conflict?

Most of us don’t wake up and say, “Ah, I love the smell of napalm in the morning! I can’t wait to get into some conflict today!”

Yet the PMBOK® Guide reminds us that “conflict is inevitable in a project environment.” (p 282). That’s no surprise to anyone who has led project and teams nuchsyu. We know it’s part of the game, and often have many war stories to prove it.

Your Perspective On Conflict

We each bring our own views about conflict with us when we’re leading teams and projects. Let me ask: what comes to mind when you hear the term conflict?

When I ask that to clients and audiences around the world, I most often hear replies such as “arguments”, “stress”, or “avoid!” The PMBOK® Guide acknowledges that conflict can get disruptive. It can spiral out of control. But the PMBOK® Guide also tells us that “when managed properly, differences of opinion can lead to increased creativity and better decision making.” (p 283)

Love. Hate.

So we know there’s benefit to conflict but we tend to hate it. We don’t actually need to love conflict, but learning how to deal with it is critical to our ability to lead and deliver.

Here’s a brief video of one of the most important lessons I’ve learned about conflict:

What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned? Please help our project community by sharing your insights in the comments below. Thanks!


In the video, I mention Michael Roberto and his book Why Great Leaders Don’t Take Yes for an Answer. To hear Michael talk about this topic, see http://PeopleAndProjectsPodcast.com/99.

References to A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) refer to the Fifth Edition published by the Project Management Institute in 2013.  “PMI”, “PMP”, “Project Management Professional”, “CAPM”, and “PMBOK” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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