Discussed the advantages of direct conflict here, here and here. If people are accustomed to others directly expressing reservations, there is no shock. On the other hand, if everything is back of one’s back, reactions to direct conflict can be along the surprise to terror continuum.
In early 1994, was making a research presentation to the accounting area at the School of Business and Economics of Wilfrid Laurier University. In relation to group vote on whether to favour contract renewal for one further year. Not appreciating/never appreciating larger negative sentiments that made the presentation redundant for the purpose of contract renewal, but beneficial in terms of further refinement of ideas.
Presentation was version of a paper based on the dissertation:
When discussing the research approach, one of accounting group members started into major criticism. Validity of cases studies, what do you know, what can you know. Was taken aback, and started to stumble.
After the presentation, encountered my colleague (yes, they are referred to as that) in the hallway. Asked him directly why he had done what he had did, in what seemed to me to be an effort to undermine the presentation.
He was shocked, to the point of fear.
Maybe it was the simple fact of direct confrontation.
Maybe it was vocal tone.
Or maybe the eyes.
No resolution, followed by the walkaway. Me, not him. He just stood there, in apparent shock.
He’s been a Dean at another business faculty for a number of years now.
Think of him as still being on the back to back. No direct conflict, unless initiated by him.