Use Conflict to Get Your Business, and Career, on Track With Liane Davey

July 18, 2022

Conflict is now seen as a negative trait in the professional world. Moreover, it is believed disagreements poison productivity, morale, and a good work environment. Yet, our teams and organizations need healthy debates to get things done. However, as humans, we tend to put off and avoid the tough choices that must be made, so we accrue conflict debt. As a result, our businesses are losing productivity, creativity, and edge in the marketplace. On the other hand, individuals also bear the costs of stress, exhaustion, and stress-related health problems.

Liane Davey, a bestselling author, keynote speaker, HBR contributor, and specialist in team performance, strategy, and leadership development, joins with today’s episode of Pursuit of Learning to explore how to use conflict to get our businesses and careers on track. Liane is the author of three New York Times bestsellers, including Good Fight: Use Productive Conflict to Get Your Team and Your Organization Back on Track and You First: Inspire Your Team to Grow Up, Get Along, and Get Stuff Done. Also, she is a regular writer for the Harvard Business Review and is frequently sought out by the media for her leadership, team performance, and product expertise. She is also known as the Water Cooler Psychologist. Moreover, she consults firms such as Amazon, TD Bank, UNICEF, 3M, and SONY as co-founder of 3COze Inc. Other than that, Liane holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Psychology.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, constructive conflict is essential to an organization’s success. Strategic planning, product management, resource allocation, talent management, and product design are just a few of the many organizational activities that often involve conflict. People avoid disagreement and move on without thoroughly investigating the other side’s position. Liane emphasizes in today’s conversation that leaders should encourage more – not less – discord within their teams, despite conflict avoidance being a common human trait. She also explains why she believes conflict has numerous advantages, such as creating healthy relationships and motivating higher levels of achievement. In addition, Liane demonstrates how to generate the productive friction a business needs to get along and complete tasks. However, she emphasizes that avoiding confrontation creates “conflict debt,” which hinders teams’ ability to collaborate effectively. Finally, Liane provides helpful counsel on how to make everyday moments of productive conflict with the tactics that will aid in developing our problem-solving abilities.

[00:17] Motivation- Liane shares her life’s motivations and the key points she wants to convey to the audience during the conversation.

[02:05] Conflict- While organizations require conflict, most of us avoid it. Liane reveals more about how this turns out to be negative.

[04:02] Signs – Liane analyzes conflict debt indicators at the corporate, team, and individual levels. 

[08:34] Healthy Conflict Environment – Liane describes how each of us contributes to creating this healthy conflict environment.

[09:35] Three Ways – Liane investigates the concepts of avoidance, opposition, and friction in depth.

[13:18] Country Level – Liane evaluates the effect of conflict avoidance at the national level.

[17:19] Social media – We discuss how social media impacts our lives in various ways.

[22:01] Conflict Avoidant- Liane shows how we get hardwired to avoid confrontation, how we can rewire ourselves, and how we can teach our children not to fear conflict.

[34:05] Reach the Bottom – When faced with this dilemma, we instantly leap to the solution and say, “Well, here’s how to solve it.” However, we have not yet reached the bottom of the issue, which usually backfires on us. Liane elaborates on this further.

[47:53] Four Quadrants – Liane explains in broad terms a four-quadrant chart with two dimensions: fulfilling one’s own needs and the needs of others.

[57:05] Types of People – When it comes to conflict, there are three distinct types of individuals. Some view conflict as harmful and unpleasant. Some believe that conflict promotes better understanding and outcomes, while others believe it is vital but tasteful. Liane explores these three categories of individuals. 

[01:09:19] Open Line of Communication – Liane outlines how we should handle conflicts and the significance of maintaining an open line of communication. 

[01:14:56] Trust – As a follow-up to her explanation of how to develop an open line of communication, Liane describes how to establish trust. 

[01:19:45] Dive Deep – Liane points out why we need facts, information-derived insights, emotions, and values to get to the heart of the problem. 

[01:32:27] U Tool – Liane discusses U Tool and how we may utilize it in our companies. 

[01:46:04] Conflict Strategies – Liane explains how to turn conflict into a habit rather than an occurrence and create frequent, low-impact, healthy, productive conflicts on a team.


Mentioned in the episode:

The Good Fight: Use Productive Conflict to Get Your Team and Organization Back on Track:

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It:

Connect with Liane:


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