The surprising benefits of conflict – and why you shouldn’t avoid it

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Many people dread conflict and actively avoid situations that might be conflict prone. Unfortunately, this is nearly impossible if you want to be successful at work. Fortunately, there are some surprising benefits of conflict.

Think of a time you got into an argument with a romantic partner. Remember how the conflict was horrible while you were in the middle of it. But once you resolved the conflict, a surprising thing happened. You felt even closer and more intimate than before the conflict. Hence the loveliness that is “make-up” sex.

The same is true for the workplace (without the sex). When you successfully work through conflict with your co-workers or boss, you end up deepening your relationship. This can lead to better understanding, greater commitment, a higher level of trust. This is the counter-intuitive part – that conflict successfully resolved increases trust.

This is part of the magic of startups. Founders regularly bump up against each other. Working through the bumps, strengthens the relationship so that co-founders end up doing miraculous things together.

Sometimes, though, it blows up (as with your previous girl/boyfriend). As long as both parties have skillfully tried to manage the conflict and been unsuccessful, this is probably for the best. It indicates a fundamental disagreement in values, vision or style that can’t be overcome. Better to know that and move along then ignore the problem and slowly, painfully, agonizingly discover this breach over time.

Either way, if you engage the conflict instead of avoiding it, you will save a ton of time, energy, stress and emotional upset not to mention a huge amount of lost productivity. Avoiding conflict doesn’t resolve it. It just let’s the conflict fester until it really blows up in an unmanageable way. Addressing the conflict when it shows itself gives you an opportunity to garner the incredible benefits of conflict.

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Lori Mazan

Co-Founder & Chief Coaching Officer

Lori Mazan is the Co-Founder and Chief Coaching Officer of Sounding Board, the preeminent global leadership development enterprise platform changing the face of leadership development through innovative technology for leaders at all levels of an organization. Lori is a seasoned executive coach who has guided hundreds of corporate executives through 1:1 coaching focused on business outcomes and developing critical leadership skills. Client companies advanced by Lori’s expertise include Fortune titans such as Chevron and Sprint as well as high growth and public companies like Intellikine, and Tapjoy, plus 10XGenomics, which became a public company in 2019 while top executives worked with Lori and the Sounding Board team.
Lori has spent the last 25 years coaching C-Suite executives to leadership excellence. Many of those public and private company CEO’s expressed that they would have liked this caliber of coaching earlier in their careers. Inspired by these experiences, Lori joined with Christine to launch Sounding Board as a feedback-driven, cloud-based leadership coaching platform that could maintain best-in-class leadership coaching while lowering costs to make it affordable and scalable for leaders at every level of their careers.
Before founding Sounding Board, Lori received her Masters’ in Adult Educational Psychology/Counseling from the University of San Francisco and a Bachelors’ in Psychology from the University of Virginia. Lori is an educator and has spent over 10 years as a professor of social psychology and group dynamics while acting as the interim Dean of Students at Holy Names University, She is certified by the industry’s gold standard, the Coaches Training Institute, and is a founding member of the Genentech Preferred Network of Coaches. Sounding Board is one of <3% of sole female founded startups receiving venture funding. In 2019 Sounding Board was selected as 1 of 7 startups (out of 100+ applicants) as part of SAP’s HR tech cohort, a group that represents the rising stars of the next-gen HR ecosystem.

Christine Tao

Co-Founder & CEO Sounding Board, Inc.

Christine Tao is the co-founder & CEO at Sounding Board, a Silicon Valley startup redefining how organizations are developing their leaders. Her extraordinarily rapid career growth to executive management in the media, mobile and tech sectors of Silicon Valley became her inspiration for founding Sounding Board. As she began to manage larger teams and be responsible for growing revenues, it became clear that she needed a “sounding board” to coach her on the development of her leadership skills. That’s where her Sounding Board co-founder, Lori Mazan came on the scene. A seasoned executive coach focused on leadership development, Lori coached Christine on real-world leadership skills that had a direct impact on business outcomes. Based on her positive and impactful experience with leadership development, Christine was driven to make leadership development coaching accessible to people at all levels of the organization.
Christine advises several startups, is a budding angel investor and is also a Tory Burch Foundation Fellow, a foundation dedicated to investing in the success and sustainability of women entrepreneurs.
Prior to co-founding Sounding Board, Christine was a Senior Vice President of Developer Relations at Tapjoy, a venture-backed, leading mobile advertising & publishing network. She led the growth of Tapjoy’s publisher advertising business from 0 to over $100 million in revenues in less than 3 years. Prior to that she led e-commerce partnerships and strategy at YouTube. Christine holds an MBA in Marketing & Operations from Wharton and a BA in Business Administration from UC Berkeley.

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