One sign of organizational health is constructive conflict in your meetings. The fact that someone cares enough to make a ruckus about an issue means they actually care. And far better to have someone oppose an initiative than be apathetic about it.
But conflict can quickly escalate to something unhealthy if left unchecked or paired with ineffective communication styles.
It’s the leader’s role to both encourage conflict and ensure its healthy.
One tip from Ray Dalio’s Principles, will help here: enforce a two-minute rule where a member of the team has two full minutes to make their point without interruption or interference.
This simple ground rule prevents overtalking and interruption. It allows enough space to communicate a thought in full where the whole merits of the argument can be evaluated.
Three steps to implement this with your team:
Announce your expectation that robust discussion and conflict is expected when discussing mission critical items in your meetings. Non-engagement is a non-option. Explain the two-minute rule as part of your meeting groundrules.
Provide real-time feedback when your team engages in conflict. Break in during a conversation to point out the tense dialogue happening right now is what you want, and that you want more of it.
Enforce the two-minute when necessary. Simply state, “Hold on Jeremy, I know you have a response to what Amelia is saying, but she deserves her two minutes to state her case. You’ll have a chance to reply shortly.”
Why It Matters
Over time, you’ll help create a zone of safety where robust dialogue is nurtured and the team’s performance is improved because you’re surfacing with the issues that matter and dealing with them in a way that honors all involved.