Conflict is inevitable in business, and this can be felt even more acutely when first setting a venture up – a time when anxiety is running high and even minor disagreements can escalate into arguments.

Originally published by Fresh Business Thinking – the online business resource for entrepreneurs. 

But conflict doesn’t need to be a negative and can be harnessed to achieve success. Working with people who have a similar thought process to you may seem sensible, but there is greater advantage in working with those who challenge you to think differently and force you to reassess your assumptions.

It may seem like a daunting task, so what’s the winning formula for building long-lasting business relationships with people who may, at times, provoke you?

Leave hierarchy at the door

Businesses thrive when employees feel respected and listened to, no matter their position in the company, so even if you disagree with a colleague’s opinion, you should allow them to explain their point of view. It just might be better than yours, or help you come to a more innovative conclusion. You may be the boss, but you always have more to learn.

Allow passion, dismiss anger

Employees that feel strongly enough to speak up, and offer their honest ideas – even if they’re different to your own – demonstrate both loyalty and passion for the business, something that should be encouraged.

While some interactions may become heated, in a professional environment anger is left at the door. Something as simple as walking around outside for five minutes can calm you down, and help clarify a tense situation.

Have a little humility

Admitting when you are wrong encourages others to own up to their mistakes, and helps individuals feel comfortable enough to seek collective solutions. A workplace where ‘fast failure’ is embraced for what you can learn from it leads to more motivated employees.

The most successful leaders do not shy away from conflict, know that no one person can have all the answers, and harness the expertise (and passion) of their employees to develop solutions to take the business forward together. When processes, rules and conventions are challenged, that’s when great things happen.