Conflict is generally defined as “a disagreement, different points of view, or different opinion between or among two or more team members or teams” (Topchik 2007, p.105). It is hard to avoid conflict among team members, so we should welcome it. All conflicts are not the bad things. There are some good conflicts which are called “productive conflict”. Productive conflict is “an open exchange of conflicting or differing ideas in which parties feel equally heard, respected, and unafraid to voice dissenting opinions for the purpose of reaching a mutually comfortable resolution”. The results of this productive conflict create new and better possibilities and insights. It is a very creative and dynamic process as individual feels comfortable in sharing conflicting opinions and ideas. (Mark Deo 2009). The following model is the Creative-Collaboration Model created by Topchink.

Step 01 – Express your view of the conflict and invite the other team member to do the same

Team members have the opportunity to present their views of the conflict. In order to present their sides of the conflict, they need to use facts, supporting documents, past experiences, opinions from others, information, etc. Other team members have to be willing to listen and make sure that all concepts have been understood.

Step 02 – Get everything out

Other concerns or issues besides the conflict should also be stated because many times personality, perception, values, belief, work-style differences, or methods on how to do the work are at the core of the conflict.

Step 03 – See the conflict from the other person’s perspective

All team members need to summarise what they have heard others say and at the same time are supportive of differing points of view. They need to listen to one another and to understand other perspectives.

Step 04 – Agree on what, specifically, the problem/opportunity is

It is better for a team to discuss the conflict at length first and then state what the true problem/opportunity is. It is a mistake to identify the problem and make a decision at the very beginning of the process.

Step 05 – Focus on the future

It is vital to discuss the background of the conflict, what has caused it, and the difference perspectives on it. However, the past should not be focused, but rather learn from the past and focus on the future.


Deo, M 2009, Productive vs. Unproductive Conflict, accessed on 22 March 2009,

Topchink, G 2007, The first-time manager’s guide to team building, Amacom, New York.