Conflict: Course Correcting vs. Clearing Conversations


17 Jul
17Jul

The importance of having tough conversations is a constant, necessary aspect to building and maintaining healthy relationships. When you bring together different backgrounds and opinions in the workplace, friction cannot always be avoided. But it does not have to result in disconnection. 

In a global study by CCP (a conflict resolution consultancy), more than 85% of employees cited experiencing conflict at work—yet this was coupled with an eagerness for improved communication strategies that would lead toward resolutions through dialogue rather than disengagement or bullying behaviors.  So how do we work toward clear conflict resolution?  The answer is through clear communication! 

In the world of conflict resolution, there are two types of conversations that can be helpful in various scenarios: clearing conversations and course-correcting conversations. One focuses on getting things out in the open, while the other is about fixing an issue. 

Wondering which one to have with your employees? It is important to understand that both types of conversations are equally important but for different reasons. In this blog post, we will cover why it is essential to have both types of conversations and what they entail. 

Clearing Conversations

 A clearing conversation is an act of connecting with another person through a deep and meaningful dialogue after events that have created disconnection. The goal? To resolve everyday conflict or even deeper-rooted trust issues. An event like this could look like miscommunication during one-on-ones, misalignment of expectations at work, or something as simple as a minor disagreement. 

Clearing conversations are about being open and sharing thoughts, feelings, goals, etc. This type of conversation is helpful when team members need to feel heard or understood about a challenging topic. And while that sounds simple enough on paper, it requires a large amount of vulnerability and a great deal of trust to enter into a clearing conversation. So, the key to having productive clearing conversations is developing a safe place to be open and vulnerable. 

Clearing conversations are a valuable tool to help create connection and engagement on the team and can be particularly helpful when you are bringing together a team with diverse beliefs and backgrounds. 

Course-Correcting Conversations

 Course-correcting conversations are about giving constructive feedback regarding a situation and helping the recipient create a plan to correct it. In addition, they can be helpful with team members who need guidance when they find themselves doing something that is not aligned with the company's values or goals. 

This type of feedback can be uncomfortable for both the giver and the receiver, and people often couch criticism in compliments to lessen the blow. Unfortunately, this approach to feedback can often result in a condescending, confusing experience for the receiver where they are unclear about what mistake was made. Course correcting conversations are about discussing how to move forward in a given situation to improve performance and achieve desired outcomes. They should include an easy-to-follow plan to implement and crystal-clear expectations. 

Both of these conversations require a high degree of trust, vulnerability, and clear communication.  When used effectively, they can not only alleviate conflict but build a more cohesive environment for all involved. 

Our team of coaches at Deep End Talent Strategies can help you plan and practice the appropriate form of conflict resolution conversation.