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Constructive vs. destructive conflict

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Please list and explain all the differences between constructive and destructive conflict. I am asking this question as I always thought that conflicts are always bad for the project, but now that I know about constructive conflicts, it seems that sometimes good things can come out of conflicts.

Can a destructive conflict become a constructive conflict? And can a conflict be destructive and constructive at the same time?
asked 10 years ago by anonymous edited 10 years ago by humblepm

1 Answer

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Not only conflicts are unavoidable in projects, they are also necessary. There are no constructive conflicts and destructive conflicts, but there are conflicts that can be constructive (or positive, see http://www.projectmanagementquestions.com/253/what-is-a-positive-conflict ), here's how:

- Team members will adjust to each other. Similarly to a relationship, team members go through ups an downs before being able to work with each other.

- Team members will be more motivated. This is because they want to prove a point to each other.

- Team members will be more creative. Imagine this situation, a team member and another one are having an argument about the feasibility of doing something in a certain way. That argument will turn into a conflict, and both will try to research solutions to prove the other is wrong, but while doing so, they discover new things and they will unintentionally become more creative.

But not all conflicts can be constructive, conflicts can become destructive (negative) when it results to:

- Team members not being able to work with each other
- Team members either emotionally, or, even worse, physically abusing each other
- Team members working against the requirements just to prove a point
- Tasks taking longer than expected because everyone has to do things his own way

Only conflicts that are destructive to the project should be managed and resolved by the project manager.
answered 10 years ago by humblepm (17,390 points)

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