It's rare to hear someone reflect on a conflict in a former workplace and say:
'My life is worse because of it.'
Many people believe that the goal of conflict management is to make everybody happy.
Yet when you ask those people 'What are the chances of that happening?', they shake their heads and say 'It's almost impossible.'
We need to have some reference point as to when a conflict is resolved.
Universal happiness - complainant, respondent, boss, customer, widget - is not a realistic one.
Resolving conflict so that people can get back to the widget has benefits beyond the widget.
It lets them think 'Well, whether I like it or not, it has been resolved and I now need to make choices based upon that.'
It's rare in life to have an umpire who resolves something for us and says 'Here's what's going to happen.'
That's what a good boss does when she resolves a conflict.
We may not like it. We may not agree with it. It may not be what we wanted. Yet it provides a reference point for our decisions about our life and our happiness. We regain control in an environment where we may have felt as though we'd lost it.
What might seem like a loss in the world of my cubicle, can be a win for personal growth, creativity, and realisations about where I want to be in the world of my life.