Why Creative Conflict Can Be A Good Thing

We have a natural urge to make things more comfortable for ourselves. And as we get older, we apply that to the people around us -- why spend time with people we disagree with? Or frustrate us? But creative work is a boiling cauldron of personality and methods, and if you achieve the right mix, it might not be the best idea to mess with the formula.

Top image by Tom Wang

We've all said it before in our heads. "I can't deal with this person too much longer." "Just three more months." If you're dealing with an office bully, that's a different problem. If you have creative differences, then perhaps the middle point of your two stances is exactly where your business or product should stay. Instead of looking for an opportunity to cut it off, try making a few attempts at improving communication. Perhaps this person responds better over email, or right after a meal. Perhaps they just prefer to be left alone. Having a mindset of always looking for a way out is probably something they can sense, and that won't help.

We've posted before about how being too comfortable can be harmful to creativity. The SEALs even have a saying: "Get comfortable with being uncomfortable." You likely won't be going on Navy SEAL missions anytime soon, but you can't avoid discomfort in life, and the better you are at dealing with it, the better off you'll be. Through struggle, we find inspiration and the ability to relate to others. We bond. It's not too different to artists losing their groove after finding success, or high-profile athletes seeming "over it" after a few good seasons. It's hard to be a hungry millionaire.

This is a similar idea, but more relative to how you deal with others. Creative relationships can be rife with friction, and in some cases it may just not be worth it. But you can ease the friction, and hopefully that might tilt your situation in favour of being just comfortable enough to keep on doing that good thing your team does so well.

If you find yourself in one of these situations, take a step back and realise not every work situation is perfect. Every job has its downsides. And preferably, the people you work with won't be one of those downsides. But ask yourself: Does the brilliance of what you create stem directly from your interaction with this person? How would the end product look without that person around? How would it look if you had everything your way?

The problem isn't limited to the immediately obvious artistic sectors of play acting or animation. I've seen plenty of development houses go through these issues with programmers. Chances are, if you're onto something successful, there's a reason. Can you do what you do with someone else? Will it have the same magic?

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Comments

    A friend was telling me today that it was precisely the conflict situations which made the person wake up and look at things differently. She was very comfortable and it was only when someone told her she was too comfortable that she realised she had to change her attitude.

    So, yes, I believe that sometimes conflict - let's call it challenging people - can be really good.
    I don't mean conflict because you mean to antagonise or because you are lacking in common courtesy, but sometimes conflict forces you to look at things differently.

    - Anthony
    http://anthonyenglish.com.au

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