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Conflict - Use It, Don't Defuse It!


In high school, we had an awesome high school girl’s basketball team, and I wanted to play on that team. The only problem was I had very limited basketball skills. Still, I was determined to give it a go.

During the two week try-out, more than forty girls showed up to compete for only twelve open spots. I became extremely aware of my weaknesses. I had no vertical jump. I wasn’t fast. I wasn’t much of a shooter. Plus, I didn’t have any court experience. You may be wondering why I even wanted to play. Well, I loved teams!

During those two weeks of watching and learning, I discovered my opportunity.

All the other girls trying out were rock star players. They were scorers and had lots run-and-gun experience with very little interest in passing or defense. I had my way in! I sold the coach by pointing out that he needed someone to slow them down and pass the ball rather than compete with them. My strategy worked! I made the team.

Fast forward to today, those lessons learned still help me in my work as a Team Conflict Consultant. I have the good fortune of working again with a rock star player, CrisMarie. She’s all about getting to results (scoring!!). Often it’s me that slows us down and wants to focus a bit on the process we are using to get to that result.

Don’t get me wrong sometimes my process focus is an overdone strength. In other words, sometimes I need to shoot the ball. However, it’s the combination of our styles that works, and it’s the combination that also creates tension and conflict on our team. We have discovered in the 15 years of working together at thrive! Inc. that learning to use, rather than defuse, that conflict has been the key to our success. But it wasn’t always easy.

It’s the same on any business team. One thing we often hear from leaders when we first connect with them is, “How come I can’t get my high-caliber people to work together?” Well, it may not be a natural part of those high-caliber people’s skill set.

In our recent TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! we talk about two magic ingredients that when used, even by one team member, transforms conflict into innovative results. This provides teams a path to use that tension which naturally comes up when high-caliber people work collectively to do great things.


If you are a leader who has a team of rock stars and are wondering, “Why aren’t they playing well together?” I suggest you watch the TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It.

I know as a rock star yourself, you may think 19 minutes may slow you down, but it also may give you the keys to unlocking your team’s potential!


CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke

Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict

CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.

They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.

Check out their website: www.thriveinc.com. Connect with CrisMarie and Susan on LinkedIn. Watch their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! Find your copy of The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team's Competitive Advantage here.



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