INTODUCTION Conflict and it causes A conflict has generally been defined as a situation in which two or more parties strive

to acquire the same scarce resources at the same time. Conflict occurs when there is disharmony between two or more opposing forces. The conflict can occur between people, in nature or within a person. The conflict can last from a few minutes to thousands of years. There are various reasons for conflict; a) Miscommunication: The source of conflict can arise from one party not understanding another party. For example, a wife states she wants to go to dinner and the husband suggests McDonald's. The conflict occurs because the husband did not understand that the wife did not mean fast food.

b) No Compromise: When parties have taken a position and each is inflexible, conflict will occur because there is no room for compromise. c) Beliefs: When parties have different belief systems, conflict can occur. For example, Christians believe in the Bible and its tenets, while Muslims adhere to the teachings of the Koran. d) History: If there is a history of conflict between the parties, it is a barrier to conflict resolution. For example, Palestine and Israel have many years of hostile history between them, which makes it difficult to resolve conflicts. e) Perceptions: Conflict can occur when parties have different perceptions. For instance, in high school, Susan may perceive that Kelly does not want to be her friend. However, Kelly may believe that Susan is a nice person but has been too busy to interact with her. f) Desires: Internal conflict can occur when someone wants to do one thing but should do another. For example, the student may want to see a movie with his friends but should stay home and study for tomorrow's final exam. The conflict occurs between fulfilling a desire and being responsible.

Types of conflict Conflicts are either Substantive or affective. Substantive conflict refers to instances in which group members express differences regarding goals, ideas, and actions. There is always a fundamental disagreement over ends or goals to be pursued and the means for their accomplishment. This is farther divided into four 1. Conflict over the facts of a situation. Is there enough money to pay for the new roof? 2. Conflict over the method or means of achieving a solution to the problem . Should we take up a food collection for the poor in town or lobby the town council to take action on decent housing laws?

3. Conflict over ends or goals. Should this church be involved in direct political action or is this a matter of concern for Christian individuals alone? 4. Conflict over values. Values are the source of our goals and the means by which the church gains direction. Values tell us which goals are worth adopting and what means of achieving these goals is appropriately Christian. Should Christians ever be engaged in confrontation and agitation or should we always be reconcilers and peace-makers in every situation? Affective Conflict refer to conflicts that occur as a result of are emotional, social & personal differences. It can be due to issues of:
• • • •

equity (fairness) dissatisfaction of social needs (such as needs for inclusion, control & affection) emotional states perceptions

Affective conflict comes from the perception that one is being attacked or criticized; it is these perceptions that give conflict a bad name! Affective conflict should be avoided since it does not contribute to the productivity of the group nor does it enhance interpersonal relationships.

Challenges managers face in conflict management In most organizations, conflicts increase as employees assert their demands for an increased share in organizational rewards, such as position, acknowledgment, appreciation, monetary benefits and independence. Even management faces conflicts with many forces from outside the organization, such as government, unions and other coercive groups which may impose restrictions on managerial activities. Conflicts emanate from more than one source, and so their true origin may be hard to identify. Important initiators of conflict situations include:

(i) People disagree. People disagree for a number of reasons and this is what makes conflict hard to resolve (De Bono, 1985). (a) They see things differently because of differences in understanding and viewpoint. Most of these differences are usually not important. Personality differences or clashes in emotional needs may cause conflicts. Conflicts arise when two groups or individuals interacting in the same situation see the situation differently because of different sets of settings, information pertaining to the universe, awareness, background, disposition, reason or outlook. In a particular mood, individuals think and perceive in a certain manner. For example, the half-full glass of one individual can be half-empty to another. Obviously both individuals convey the same thing, but they do so differently owing to contrasting perceptions and dispositions. (b) People have different styles, principles, values, beliefs and slogans which determine their choices and objectives. When choices contradict, people want different things and that can create conflict situations. For example, a risk-taking manager would be in conflict with a risk-minimizing supervisor who believes in firm control and a well-kept routine. (c) People have different ideological and philosophical outlooks, as in the case of different political parties. Their concepts, objectives and ways of reacting to various situations are different. This often creates conflicts among them. (d) Conflict situations can arise because people have different status. When people at higher levels in the organization feel indignant about suggestions for change put forward from their subordinates or associates, it provokes conflict. By tolerating and allowing such suggestions, potential conflict can be prevented. (e) People have different thinking styles, which encourages them to disagree, leading to conflict situations. Certain thinking styles may be useful for certain purposes, but ineffectual or even perilous in other situations (De Bono, 1985). (f) People are supposed to disagree under particular circumstances, such as in sports. Here conflict is necessary, and even pleasurable. (ii) People are concerned with fear, force, fairness or funds (De Bono, 1985).

(a) Fear relates to imaginary concern about something which might happen in the future. One may fear setbacks, disgrace, reprisal or hindrances, which can lead to conflict situations. (b) Force is a necessary ingredient of any conflict situation. Force may be ethical or emotional. It could be withdrawal of cooperation or approval. These forces are instrumental in generating, strengthening and terminating conflicts. (c) Fairness refers to an individual's sense of what is right and what is not right, a fundamental factor learnt in early childhood. This sense of fairness determines the moral values of an individual. People have different moral values and accordingly appreciate a situation in different ways, creating conflict situations. (d) Funds or costs can cause conflict, but can also force a conclusion through acceptable to the conflicting parties. The cost of being in conflict may be measurable (in money terms) or immeasurable, being expressed in terms of human lives, suffering, diversion of skilled labour, neglect or loss of morale and self esteem. (De Bono, 1985).

Why pay attention to a problem of conflict in organizations Conflicts if not paid attention to by management; it could have negative consequences on the overall organization performance. These include; Mental Health Concerns Conflict within an organization can cause members to become frustrated if they feel as if there’s no solution in sight, or if they feel that their opinions go unrecognized by other group members. As a result, members become stressed, which adversely affects their professional and personal lives. Organization members may have problems sleeping, loss of appetite or overeating, headaches and become unapproachable. In some instances, organization members may avoid meetings to prevent themselves from experiencing stress and stress-related symptoms. Decrease in Productivity

When an organization spends much of its time dealing with conflict, members take time away from focusing on the core goals they are tasked with achieving. Conflict causes members to focus less on the project at hand and more on gossiping about conflict or venting about frustrations. As a result, organizations can lose money, donors and access to essential resources. Members Leave Organization Organization members who are increasingly frustrated with the level of conflict within an organization may decide to end their membership. This is especially detrimental when members are a part of the executive board or heads of committees. Once members begin to leave, the organization has to recruit new members and appoint acting board members. In extreme cases, where several members leave or an executive board steps down, organizations risk dissolution. Violence When conflict escalates without mediation, intense situations may arise between organization members. It’s unfortunate, but organizational conflicts may cause violence among members, resulting in legal problems for members and possibly the organization. ORGANIZATIONAL COSTS Unmanaged conflict has the potential to cause several negative consequences in workplaces, communities, and homes. Many times these costs are “hidden,” that is, they are not readily apparent. At the same time, these costs are very detrimental to individuals, groups, and organizations The Dana Mediation Institute, Inc. determines a number of cost factors associated with conflict: 1. Wasted time 2. Opportunity cost of wasted time 3. Lowered job motivation and productivity 4. Lost performance due to conflict-related absenteeism

5. Loss of investment in skilled employees 6. Conflict-incited theft, sabotage, vandalism, & damage 7. Restructuring around the problem 8. Health costs 9. Degraded decision quality A lot of these conflicts are very subtle within an organization, yet still have the power to negatively affect an organization’s bottom line.

What organizations should do in conflict management Conflicts are inescapable in an organization. However, conflicts can be used as motivators for healthy change. In today's environment, several factors create competition; they may be differing departmental objectives, individual objectives, competition for use of resources or differing viewpoints. These have to be integrated and exploited efficiently to achieve organizational objectives. A manager should be able to see emerging conflicts and take appropriate pre-emptive action. The manager should understand the causes creating conflict, the outcome of conflict, and various methods by which conflict can be managed in the organization. With this understanding, the manager should evolve an approach for resolving conflicts before their disruptive repercussions have an impact on productivity and creativity. Therefore, a manager should possess special skills to react to conflict situations, and should create an open climate for communication between conflicting parties. Ways to resolve conflict When two groups or individuals face a conflict situation, they can react in four ways (De Bono, 1985). They can: 1. Fight, which is not a beneficial, sound or gratifying approach to dealing with a conflict situation, as it involves 'tactics, strategies, offensive and defensive positions, losing and winning grounds, and exposure of weak points.' Fighting as a way of resolving a conflict can only be useful in courtroom situations, where winning and losing becomes a byproduct of the judicial process.

2. Negotiate, towards a settlement with the other party. Negotiations take place within the prevailing situation and do not involve problem solving or designing. Third-party roles are very important in bringing the conflicting parties together on some common ground for negotiations. 3. Problem solve, which involves identifying and removing the cause of the conflict so as to make the situation normal again. However, this may not be easy. It is also possible that the situation may not become normal even after removing the identified cause, because of its influence on the situation. 4. Design, which is an attempt towards creativity in making the conflict situation normal. It considers conflicts as situations rather than problems. Designing is not confined to what is already there, but attempts to reach what might be created given a proper understanding of the views and situations of the conflicting parties. The proposed idea should be appropriate and acceptable to the parties in conflict. A third party participates actively in the design process rather than being just an umpire. The pay off of effectively managing conflicts If managed well, conflicts can; Inspire Creativity Fortunately, some organization members view conflict as an opportunity for finding creative solutions to solve problems. Conflict can inspire members to brainstorm ideas, while examining problems from various perspectives. Share And Respect Opinions As organization members work together to solve conflict, they are more willing to share their opinions with the group. Conflict can also cause members to actively listen to each as they work to accomplish the organizations’ goals. Improve Future Communication Conflict can bring group members together and help them learn more about each other. From learning each others’ opinions on topics relevant to the organization’s growth to

understanding each member’s preferred communication style, conflict within an organization can give members the tools necessary to easily solve conflicts in the future. Identify New Members Within organizations members actively participate in each meeting, enjoy serving on multiple committees and have an opinion on each topic the group discusses. There are also members who seemingly contribute little to the group and observe more than talk. Conflict within an organization can inspire typically silent members to step up and demonstrate their leadership skills by offering meaningful solutions to the problem the group is facing Practitioner points Summing up Conflicts are inevitable in any organization. A modest level of conflict can be useful in generating better ideas and methods, inspiring concern and ingenuity, and stimulating the emergence of long-suppressed problems. Conflict management strategies should aim at keeping conflict at a level at which different ideas and viewpoints are fully voiced but unproductive conflicts are deterred. Stimulation of conflict situations is appropriate if the research manager identifies conditions of 'group-think.' Group-think is a situation where conflict rarely occurs because of high group cohesion, which results in poor decision and inadequate performance. Group-think prevails when there are lot of 'yes men' in a group, with the result that there is no serious appraisal of the situation and new ideas are not suggested. Group members attach greater importance to popularity, tranquillity and peace in the group rather than to technical ability and proficiency. Members are disinclined to verbalize their unbiased views in order to avoid hurting the feelings of other members of the group. Decisions are accepted as they are, adversely affecting organizational productivity. A manager can choose several remedies to avoid group-think (Irving, 1971). A conflict situation can be induced by supporting individualistic thinking or favouring individual competition. Individualistic thinking can be initiated in the group by including some group members who can freely express their views, which can encourage and prod

others to do the same. Competition between individuals can be enhanced by acknowledging and rewarding the better performers. Conflict situations can also be introduced by making some organizational changes, such as transferring some group members, redefining roles, and helping the emergence of new leadership. A manager can also create a conflict situation by delivering shocks, such as by reducing some existing perks of the members of the organization. After stimulating the conflict situation, a manager should: 1. identify the likely source of the conflict situation 2. calibrate the productiveness of the situation, 3. and neutralize the unproductive conflict situation.

Basic problems in inter-group behaviour are conflict of goals and communication failures, A basic tactic in resolving conflicts, therefore, is to find goals upon which scientists or groups can agree, and to ensure proper communication and interaction. Some conflicts arise because of simple misconceptions, which can be overcome by improved communication. A manager should manage conflicts effectively rather than suppress or avoid them. To manage them, a manager needs to ask 'What?' and 'Why?' - and not 'Who?' - to get at the root of a problem. In the process of resolving conflicts, many problems can be identified and solved by removing obstacles and creating a new environment of individual growth. If conflicts are not managed properly, they can be damaging, as they waste a lot of energy and time, and invoke tension, which reduces the productivity and creativity of those involved.

Negotiation Challenges

A number of things can occur in a negotiation that can be especially challenging. Anticipating challenges and developing strategies to deal with them can be helpful when they happen.

Below are some common negotiation challenges and strategies for handling them. By being able to recognize them, you will be in a better position to handle them effectively. By being conscious of them, you will be less likely to inadvertently use one yourself. Time Pressure The other party, early in the negotiation, says 'let"s skip the haggling, just give me your best price". Whether you are negotiating a price for a product, the start date for a project, or how many resources you can temporarily loan to another department, beware if the other party puts you under unexpected time pressure and attempts to push you straight to your fallback position. Try responding, "I'd like to give you my best price but until I've learned more about your requirements, I don't know what my best price is." Sidestepping the request and signaling that you need information is a good countermeasure because you have agreed that you want to learn the needs of the other party. Another Decision-maker Well into the negotiations, you discover that you are not talking to a decision-maker. He or she leaves the room and returns five minutes later saying that the boss will not agree unless another x percent is conceded. That point is negotiated and the party disappears again asking for another concession. Sometimes, they don't even leave the room - they simply say "my boss would never agree to that". Insist on discussing matters with the decision-maker or resurrect matters that the other party thought were already agreed. "If you want delivery in two weeks and an x percent discount we'll have to take another look at quantity." With this countermeasure you are not only sidestepping the attempted manipulation but also effectively encouraging the other person to be open and honest. That way you can arrive at an agreement with which you both feel comfortable. Delay Tactics This is a tactic that senior people frequently use on more junior people. It is a way of saying, "I'm calling the shots around here because I'm the more important person." Their

hope is that you will become more nervous, or that the effect on your schedule will cause you to feel under pressure and so you will agree to what they want in order to keep the discussion short. An effective countermeasure, assuming you do not want to reschedule the meeting, is always to bring some work or reading along with you. That way the attempt at pressure becomes a gift of time during which you do some work that you would not otherwise have done. Alternatively, you can use the time for some last-minute preparation. Finally, if the time available for the meeting becomes too tight you may have no alternative but to reschedule. If the delay was genuinely unavoidable, the other party will understand. If it was an attempt to manipulate you, he or she will see it will not work and be less inclined to try it on you in the future. Last-minute Wavering Just when you think that negotiations are over and you have reached agreement, the other party begins wavering over some seemingly trivial point. The other party knows that your defenses are down as the negotiation nears completion and they ask for another concession. Actually, the other party can waver several times, squeezing several additional concessions from you each time. Your defense is to remember that every time he or she raises another issue, points that have been previously agreed to can be brought back for discussion using the word if. As in, "I can consider this new point but only if we reconsider . . ." If the new point is genuine the other party will not mind resurrecting a previously agreed to one; if the new point is not genuine, the other party will retract it. An Early Concession Some negotiators begin with an early concession and then wait for you to reciprocate and in the spirit of relationship-building, you probably will. Thank them, remember the concession for later, and continue exploring. Aggressive Behaviors

Sarcastic comments, patronizing, bullying, attempts to make you feel guilty, attempts to make you feel inferior, bribery, belittling remarks and dismissive words are all forms of inappropriate influencing. They are designed to help the other person "win" at your expense. Sometimes these aggressive behaviors work. They get us what we want, but only in the short term and at a long term cost. Behaviors such as these can create resentment, lack of ownership of what has been agreed to, lack of initiative from other people when problems arise, withdrawal of goodwill, poor relationships, and retaliation. If we communicate with people openly, honestly and above all, respectfully, we tend to avoid these problems. While communicating with people this way does not guarantee that we shall achieve our short terms goals (although the chances are certainly increased) we usually experience long term benefits because people prefer being treated this way. Linking Logic This is based on the assumption that if a person is correct in one thing, he or she must be correct in another. So, in a debate about modern technology, one person could ask the other, "Would you give up your cell phone?". Since the answer is probably no, he or she has just strengthened his/her argument. The fact that your resistance to the technology the other party is promoting and your decision to carry a cell phone are unconnected may escape your attention. Your best defense against this form of manipulation is asking questions. You need to get to the bottom of the other person's point to see if the logic he or she is applying is sound or not. Price-only Negotiation Negotiators who pay attention exclusively to price turn potentially cooperative deals into adversarial ones. While price is an important factor in most deals, it is rarely the only one. People care about much more than the absolute level of their own economic outcome. Competing interests include relative results, perceived fairness, self-image, reputation,

and so on. Successful negotiators, acknowledging that economics aren't everything, focus on important non-price factors such as relationships (short and long-term) and the larger interests. Less experienced negotiators often undervalue the importance of developing working relationships with the other parties, putting the relationship at risk by overly tough tactics of simple neglect. This is especially true cross-culturally. Letting Positions Override Interests Despite the clear advantages of reconciling deeper interests, people have a built-in bias toward focusing on their own positions instead. This hardwired assumption that our interests are incompatible implies a zero-sum pie in which my gain is your loss. Issues Positions topic one on party's the table stands on for the agreement issues

Interests - underlying concerns that would be affected by the resolution Reconciling interests to create value requires patience and a willingness to research the other side, ask many questions, and listen. Neglecting the Other Side's Problem You can't negotiate effectively unless you understand your own interests and your own no-deal options. But there is much more to it than that. Since the other side will say "yes" for its reasons, not yours, agreement requires understanding and addressing the other party's problem as a means to solving your own. Successful negotiators agree that overcoming this self-centered tendency is critical. Spend time trying to understand how the poor man or woman on the other side of the table is going to sell this deal to his or her boss. Before you can change a person's mind, you have to first learn where that person's mind is.

Handling effective Negotiations in conflict

When the parties involved in a conflict want to work toward an amicable resolution, they

must engage in a communication process to decide what kind of a deal would be acceptable to both. In other words they must negotiate to reach an agreement. Here what is important is that all the parties concerned must want a solution. And for this they must put up or encourage proposals, not hold on to whatever grievances they have or whatever arguments they deem right. Arguments cannot be negotiated, only proposals can. This demands that emotions be kept under control. Negotiating is a delicate process and a lot of thinking must go into it, both before it actually gets underway, and while it is going on.

As with conflict management, negotiation can be handled in different ways. The outcome of a negotiation depends on the approach.

Bargaining Orientation This approach is based on the premise that one person can win only at the expense of the other – that any victory by one party must be matched by the other’s loss. That is why this is also called the win-lose approach. Although this approach is marked by competitiveness and may create ill will, this is sometimes the best approach when the other party is determined to take advantage of you or when your interests truly conflict with those of the other party and compromising is not a satisfactory option. Lose-Lose Orientation This is adopted when one negotiating partner feels his own interests are threatened and reacts by doing all he can to ensure that the outcome of the negotiation does not serve the other party’s interests either. In effect, everybody ends up being a loser. Lose-lose outcomes occur when negotiating partners ignore one another’s needs or when the need to hurt each other outweighs the need to find some kind of an acceptable solution.

Compromise A lose-lose situation is hardly a desirable outcome. To avoid this, sometimes people compromise. Both parties give up a part of what they had originally sought, and settle for something less than that. A compromise is the best way out when it is impossible for both parties to convince each other or when even the partial attainment of one party’s goals

depends on the satisfaction of the other. Compromise is a good option when disputed resources are limited. For instance, if two managers each need a full-time secretary, but budget restrictions make this impossible, they may have to compromise by sharing one secretary. Win-Win Orientation When the needs of the negotiating parties are compatible, a win-win solution, which satisfies the needs of all parties, becomes possible. The win -win approach is superior to other problem-solving styles, because everyone ends up feeling satisfied. However, such a solution is only possible when the needs of the parties involved do not conflict. This approach works well when the following five steps are followed.

1. Determine the needs of both parties. If both parties can identify what issues are important to the other, they would find it easier to work toward a mutually acceptable solution.

2. Develop a list of possible solutions. Once the basic issues have been identified, the two parties can sit together and come up with several solutions that would satisfy everyone’s needs. All possible solutions are put down, without any of them being evaluated. 3. Choose the most appropriate solutions. At this stage each solution is evaluated and the ones that are most promising are adopted.

4. Implement the solution. Once the best solution is decided upon, make sure everyone understands it, and then implement it.

5. Follow up on the solution. Even the best plans need to be monitored after they have been implemented. A while after the plan has been put into action, meet with the other parties involved and discuss how the solution is working out. If anyone’s needs are still unmet, you could go back to the problem-solving procedure and identify another solution.

GROUP CONFLICT BEHAVIORS Any organization that is larger than one person is a group, and anywhere where there is more than one person there is bound to be different ideas, behaviors and interests, which can create conflict. Groups are defined as people that see themselves as a unit. Groups provide rewards to the members and anything affecting one member affects the entire groups. A common goal is shared amongst the members. Group effectiveness is impacted by certain factors: 1. Group cohesiveness (how well the members all get along) 2. Interdependence (how much each member relies on their other members to reach their goal) 3. Composition (what type of people and how the group is made up) 4. Size

5. Context and resources (what situation is the group in and what resources do they have available to them to help them to reach their goal) 6. Members abilities 7. Norms (the expected behaviors and attitudes of group members) Potential Problems There are certain problems that can arise from a group type structure: Polarization: This occurs when the attitudes of a group become extreme - especially towards either risky or conservative positions (i.e., racial ideas etc.) Social Loafing: This is the absence of individual effort amongst the groups efforts, when a person is not contributing their fair share to the group, thinking that others will pick up their slack. Groupthink: This occurs when a group sacrifices critical thinking in order to only have agreement on everything.

Conflict: With any group, conflict is bound to occur (unless Groupthink has occurred). Conflict is the opposition of persons or forces, and this opposition gives rise to tension amongst the group members. Conflict is a natural state of affairs - it is bound to happen and in some places it may even be beneficial - in certain amounts and certain types. People deal with conflict differently. Competitive handling styles are when a person puts there concerns first and only wants to win. Accommodative handling occurs when someone will give in, in order to satisfy others. Sharing handling occurs when there is a 50/50 compromise. Collaborative handling is when people try to satisfy both sides. Finally, avoidant handling is when someone withdraws in order to avoid the conflict. There are some causes for conflict. Conflict can arise when there is competition for resources, when people are dependent upon others in order to get a task finished, when there is a misunderstanding or ambiguity about something, when there are communication barriers that prevent full communication and when personalities clash. Depending on what type of conflict it is, conflict can be good or bad. Functional conflict is conflict that supports the goals of the group and improves its performance. Dysfunctional conflict is that which hinders group performance.

CONFLICT HANDLING MODES The Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument is a model for handling conflict:

Five Conflict Management Styles

Here are the five conflict management styles according to Thomas, K.W., and R.H. Kilmann: 1. Accommodating – This is when you cooperate to a high-degree, and it may be at your own expense, and actually work against your own goals, objectives, and desired outcomes. This approach is effective when the other party is the expert or has a better solution. It can also be effective for preserving future relations with the other party. 2. Avoiding - This is when you simply avoid the issue. You aren’t helping the other party reach their goals, and you aren’t assertively pursuing your own. This works when the issue is trivial or when you have no chance of winning. It can also be effective when the issue would be very costly. It’s also very effective when the atmosphere is emotionally charged and you need to create some space. Sometimes issues will resolve themselves, but “hope is not a strategy”, and, in general, avoiding is not a good long term strategy. 3. Collaborating – This is where you partner or pair up with the other party to achieve both of your goals. This is how you break free of the “win-lose” paradigm and seek the “win-win.” This can be effective for complex scenarios where you need to find a novel solution. This can also mean re-framing the challenge to create a bigger space and room for everybody’s ideas. The downside is that it requires a high-degree of trust and reaching a consensus can require a lot of time and effort to get everybody on board and to synthesize all the ideas. 4. Competing – This is the “win-lose” approach. You act in a very assertive way to achieve your goals, without seeking to cooperate with the other party, and it may be at the expense of the other party. This approach may be appropriate for emergencies when time is of the essence, or when you need quick, decisive action, and people are aware of and support the approach. 5. Compromising – This is the “lose-lose” scenario where neither party really achieves what they want. This requires a moderate level of assertiveness and cooperation. It may be appropriate for scenarios where you need a temporary solution, or where both sides have equally important goals. The trap is to fall into compromising as an easy way out, when collaborating would produce a better solution.

FUNCTIONAL AND DYSFUNCTIONAL CONFLICTS Functional Conflicts Functional conflict within the context of Organizational Behavior occurs when low to moderate levels of conflict improve the effectiveness of a group. For example when it improves the quality of decisions, stimulates creativity, innovation and encourages interest and curiosity among group members. Conflict is functional if it provides a medium through which problems can be aired and tensions released and fosters an environment of self-evaluation and change. Functional Conflicts are the antidote for groupthink. Functional conflicts challenge the status quo and therefore further the creation of new ideas, promotes reassessment of group goals and activities, and increases the probability that the group will respond to change. Conditions for successful engagement in functional Conflict Respect

In order to engage in functional conflict, the parties involved must respect each other’s opinions. Speaking negatively about another person’s viewpoint will only make the conflict more difficult to resolve, and the person being insulted will start to take the conflict personally.


Functional conflict involves allowing the other person to completely verbalize a thought without interruption. In so doing, respect is shown for the other person's point of view and it becomes more likely that the conflicted parties will reach a compromise.


Those that engage in functional conflict know that the other party is not the enemy. Each person can provide valuable insights and suggestions that will help solve the problem--a willingness to cooperate proves this.


In order for functional conflict to be successful, each party must avoid resorting to coercion. Forcing someone to do things he doesn’t agree with is not an effective way to resolve a conflict--simply state your case and work with the other person’s viewpoint to come up with a compromise.


Functional conflict focuses on finding a resolution to the problem. Personal feelings about the other party that have nothing to do with the conflict should not be considered when trying to solve the problem; focusing on a specific solution will correct the issue quickly.

Dysfunctional Conflict

Dysfunctional conflict is conflict that leads to a decline in communication or the performance of a group. Dysfunctional conflict can be an overabundance of conflict or a lack of sufficient motivating conflict. Organizational Dysfunctional Conflict Dysfunctional conflict within an organization is motivated by egos of employees with competing ambitions. It often leads to higher stress and a likelihood that employees will burn out. Employees will also likely feel less satisfaction and less loyalty to the organization. Stages of Dysfunctional Conflict

There are five stages of dysfunctional conflict. Incompatibility is the source of conflict: misunderstandings and lack of communication. Recognition is the process by which employees internalize the conflict that affects their behavior. Intention is the process by which employees' behavior changes due to the conflict. Perceived behavior refers to slights and reactions that play into creating conflict, while results are effects of the conflict on a group.

Resolving Dysfunctional Conflicts A leader must resolve a conflict by recognizing ambitions and abilities of employees and attempt to motivate and stimulate employees when there is too little conflict or calm employees' tempers and bringing them to work together more effectively when there is too much conflict.

DISTRIBUTIVE AND INTEGRATIVE BARGAING There are two main approaches to any negotiation situation: distributive and integrative strategies. Each are useful in specific contexts, and the same negotiator may use either strategy depending upon their goal. We encounter distributive negotiation every time we buy a car or ask for a discount on an as-is item. Integrative negotiations happen on an ongoing basis, such as agreeing to let our children go to bed an hour later in exchange for mowing the lawn. Distributive bargaining Zero-sum or win-lose negotiations (where one party's gain is the other party's loss). It occurs when a fixed amount of assets or resources are to be divided (such as between a management and a union) in situations where there is no understanding between the negotiating parties on the major issues. Distributive Basics Distributive negotiation is appropriate in "divide the pie" situations, when there is a fixed amount of resources and whatever one party gains, the other party loses. Usually it's

employed when the parties don't know each other and don't believe they will need to develop a relationship with each other for use in the future. A distributive approach to negotiation is usually what we encounter when we make a purchase. Why Is Distributive Bargaining Important? Distributive bargaining is important because there are some disputes that cannot be solved in any other way -- they are inherently zero-sum. If the stakes are high, such conflicts can be very resistant to resolution. For example, if budgets in a government agency must be cut 30 percent, and people's jobs are at stake, a decision about what to cut is likely to be very difficult. If the cuts are small enough that the impact on employees will be minor, however, such distributive decisions can be made more easily. Even in cooperative negotiations, distributive bargaining will come into play. Distributive bargaining and integrative bargaining are not mutually exclusive negotiation strategies. Integrative bargaining is a good way to make the pie (joint value) as large as it can possibly be, but ultimately the parties must distribute the value that was created. If they are able to expand the pie enough, distribution is easy. If there is still not enough to give each side what it wants, however, distributive negotiation will be more difficult.[1] The Pros and Cons of Distributive Bargaining Some conflict resolution theorists believe that distributive bargaining is unnecessary. Any conflict, they argue, may be solved cooperatively through integrative bargaining. For example, in their book Getting to Yes, Fisher, Ury, and Patton argue that with creativity, disputants can almost always work together to "expand the pie" and create outcomes that benefit both sides.[2] Even when budgets have to be cut, they would argue, the parties make the decisions together so that all sides get the best possible outcome. Distributive bargaining has also been criticized because it tends to lead to destructive actions and sometimes forces the involved parties to focus too much on their differences. If people want to maintain a good relationship with one another, it is argued, they should take an integrative approach to distribution as well as expansion of the pie. However, in cases where the "negotiator wants to maximize the value obtained in a single deal and when the relationship with the other party is not important," distributive bargaining tactics may be very useful.[3]

Process and Strategy in Distributive Negotiations The process of distributive negotiation involves the interplay of one's walk away value -the minimum or maximum one can accept before "walking away" from the deal -- and the adversary's walk away value. The trick is to get an idea of your opponent's walk away value and then try to negotiate an outcome that is closer to your own goals than theirs. Whether or not parties achieve their goals in distributive bargaining depends on the strategies and tactics they use. Information is the key to gaining a strategic advantage in a distributive negotiation. You should do your best to guard your information carefully and also try to get information out of your opponent. To a large extent, your bargaining power depends on how clear you are about your goals, alternatives, and walk away values and how much you know about your opponents'. Once you know these values, you will be in a much stronger position to figure out when to concede and when to hold firm in order to best influence the response of the other side. Distributive Tactics In distributive bargaining, it's best to keep information to yourself while trying to get information out of the other party. Let them make the first offer, since this lets you know what they're willing to give up. Do tell them about alternatives you have, such as competing offers for what you're selling, or interest in a product that competes with the one they're selling if you're the buyer. But be willing to make concessions in order to reach a realistic outcome. Integrative bargaining Integrative bargaining (also called "interest-based bargaining," "win-win bargaining") is a negotiation strategy in which parties collaborate to find a "win-win" solution to their dispute. This strategy focuses on developing mutually beneficial agreements based on the interests of the disputants. Interests include the needs, desires, concerns, and fears important to each side. They are the underlying reasons why people become involved in a conflict.

"Integrative refers to the potential for the parties' interests to be [combined] in ways that create joint value or enlarge the pie."[1] Potential for integration only exists when there are multiple issues involved in the negotiation. This is because the parties must be able to make trade-offs across issues in order for both sides to be satisfied with the outcome. (Brad, 2003)

Negotiations between a union and management when the parties are not in direct conflict over an issue, and when both stand to benefit from continued discussions.

Integrative Basics An integrative bargaining situation occurs when it's possible to produce a greater outcome together than either could reach on his own. It's used when the parties have a relationship or want to establish one, and when cooperation benefits both parties. There are often multiple issues to address, and the negotiations can be complex and ongoing. Most of us use integrative bargaining within our families and between business partners. What is Integrative or Interest-Based Bargaining? Integrative bargaining (also called "interest-based bargaining," "win-win bargaining") is a negotiation strategy in which parties collaborate to find a "win-win" solution to their dispute. This strategy focuses on developing mutually beneficial agreements based on the interests of the disputants. Interests include the needs, desires, concerns, and fears important to each side. They are the underlying reasons why people become involved in a conflict. "Integrative refers to the potential for the parties' interests to be [combined] in ways that create joint value or enlarge the pie."[1] Potential for integration only exists when there are multiple issues involved in the negotiation. This is because the parties must be able to make trade-offs across issues in order for both sides to be satisfied with the outcome.

Why is Integrative Bargaining Important? Integrative bargaining is important because it usually produces more satisfactory outcomes for the parties involved than does positional bargaining. Positional bargaining is based on fixed, opposing viewpoints (positions) and tends to result in compromise or no agreement at all. Oftentimes, compromises do not efficiently satisfy the true interests of the disputants. Instead, compromises simply split the difference between the two positions, giving each side half of what they want. Creative, integrative solutions, on the other hand, can potentially give everyone all of what they want. There are often many interests behind any one position. If parties focus on identifying those interests, they will increase their ability to develop win-win solutions. The classic example of interest-based bargaining and creating joint value is that of a dispute between two little girls over an orange. Both girls take the position that they want the whole orange. Their mother serves as the moderator of the dispute and based on their positions, cuts the orange in half and gives each girl one half. This outcome represents a compromise. However, if the mother had asked each of the girls why she wanted the orange -- what her interests were -- there could have been a different, win-win outcome. This is because one girl wanted to eat the meat of the orange, but the other just wanted the peel to use in baking some cookies. If their mother had known their interests, they could have both gotten all of what they wanted, rather than just half. Integrative solutions are generally more gratifying for all involved in negotiation, as the true needs and concerns of both sides will be met to some degree. It is a collaborative process and therefore the parties actually end up helping each other. This prevents ongoing ill will after the negotiation concludes. Instead, interest-based bargaining facilitates constructive, positive relationships between previous adversaries. Identifying Interests: The first step in integrative bargaining is identifying each side's interests. This will take some work by the negotiating parties, as interests are often less tangible than positions and are often not publicly revealed. A key approach to determining interests is asking "Why?" Why do you want that? Why do you need that? What are your concerns? Fears? Hopes? If you cannot ask these questions directly, get an intermediary to ask them.

The bottom line is you need to figure out why people feel the way they do, why they are demanding what they are demanding. Be sure to make it clear that you are asking these questions so you can understand their interests (needs, hopes, fears, or desires) better, not because you are challenging them or trying to figure out how to beat them. Next you might ask yourself how the other side perceives your demands. What is standing in the way of them agreeing with you? Do they know your underlying interests? Do you know what your own underlying interests are? If you can figure out their interests as well as your own, you will be much more likely to find a solution that benefits both sides. You must also analyze the potential consequences of an agreement you are advocating, as the other side would see them. This is essentially the process of weighing pros and cons, but you attempt to do it from the perspective of the other side. Carrying out an empathetic analysis will help you understand your adversary's interests. Then you will be better equipped to negotiate an agreement that will be acceptable to both of you. There are a few other points to remember about identifying interests. First, you must realize that each side will probably have multiple interests it is trying to satisfy. Not only will a single person have multiple interests, but if you are negotiating with a group, you must remember that each individual in the group may have differing interests. Also important is the fact that the most powerful interests are basic human needs - security, economic well being, a sense of belonging, recognition, and control over one's life. If you can take care of the basic needs of both sides, then agreement will be easier. You should make a list of each side's interests as they become apparent. This way you will be able to remember them and also to evaluate their relative importance.[2] Creating Options After interests are identified, the parties need to work together cooperatively to try to figure out the best ways to meet those interests. Often by "brainstorming" -- listing all the options anyone can think of without criticizing or dismissing anything initially, parties can come up with creative new ideas for meeting interests and needs that had not occurred to anyone before. The goal is a win-win outcome, giving each side as much of

their interests as possible, and enough, at a minimum that they see the outcome as a win, rather than a loss.

Integrative Tactics Determine your list of priorities, and make a guess about the other party's priorities as well. Share information with each other, being honest about your priorities; often something critical to one side is a minor concession to the other, and vice versa. Find and offer solutions that produce the most gain for the other party as well as for yourself. Remember that you will be in other negotiation situations with the other side in the future, and be willing to compromise when needed to build goodwill for later.

PRINCIPLED NEGOTIONS Principled negotiation is the name given to the interest-based approach to negotiation set out in the best-known conflict resolution book, Getting to Yes, first published in 1981 by Roger Fisher and William Ury. The book advocates four fundamental principles of negotiation: 1) separate the people from the problem; 2) focus on interests, not positions; 3) invent options for mutual gain; and 4) insist on objective criteria. Separating the people from the problem means separating relationship issues (or "people problems") from substantive issues, and dealing with them independently. People problems, Fisher, Ury and Patton observe, tend to involve problems of perception, emotion, and communication. (1991, p. 22) Perceptions are important because they define the problem and the solution. While there is an "objective reality," that reality is interpreted differently by different people in different situations. When different parties have different understandings of their dispute effective negotiation may be very difficult to achieve. (This is what we have been calling framing problems.) Fisher, Ury and Patton suggest seven basic strategies for handling problems of perception. (Click here for a description of these strategies.)

People problems also often involve difficult emotions — fear, anger, distrust and anxiety for example. These emotions get intertwined with the substantive issues in the dispute and make both harder to deal with. Fisher, Ury and Patton suggest five tactics for disentangling and defusing emotional problems in the negotiation process. (Click here for a description of these tactics.) Fisher, Ury and Patton consider communication problems to be "people problems" as well. They list three types of communication problems. First, disputants may not be talking to each other. While their comments are formally addressed to the opponent, they are actually addressing some outside audience. They are grandstanding, or playing to the crowd. A second communication problem arises when parties are not listening to each other. Rather than listening attentively to the opponent, parties may instead be planning their own response, or listening to their own constituency. Finally, even when parties are both listening and talking to each other, misunderstandings and misinterpretations may occur. Fisher, Ury and Patton suggest techniques for minimizing communication problems. (Click here for a description of these techniques.) Negotiating about interests means negotiating about things that people really want and need, not what they say that want or need. Often, these are not the same. People tend to take extreme positions that are designed to counter their opponents’ positions. If asked why they are taking that position, it often turns out that the underlying reasons--their true interests and needs--are actually compatible, not mutually exclusive. By focusing on interests, disputing parties can more easily fulfill the third principle-invent options for mutual gain. This means negotiators should look for new solutions to the problem that will allow both sides to win, not just fight over the original positions which assume that for one side to win, the other side must lose. The fourth rule is to insist on objective criteria for decisions. While not always available, if some outside, objective criteria for fairness can be found, this can greatly simplify the negotiation process. If union and management are struggling over a contract, they can look to see what other similar companies have agreed to use as an outside objective criteria. If people are negotiating over the price of a car or a house, they can look at what similar houses or cars have sold for. This gives both sides more guidance as to what is "fair," and makes it hard to oppose offers in this range.

Lastly, Fisher, Ury, and Patton counsel negotiators to know what their alternatives are. If you don’t know what your alternatives to a negotiated agreement are, you might accept an agreement that is far worse than the one you might have gotten, or reject one that is far better than you might otherwise achieve. For this reason, Fisher, Ury, and Patton stress the importance of knowing and improving your BATNA before you conclude negotiations. (Click here for more information on BATNAs.) In Getting to Yes, Fisher, Ury, and Patton argue that almost all disputes can be resolved with principled negotiation. They reject the notion that some conflicts are inherently winlose or that positional bargaining is ever a superior approach. Other theorists, however, disagree--as do we. Principled negotiation is an excellent tool to use in many disputes, but we have found that it needs to be supplemented with other approaches in the case of intractable conflicts. It also is more attuned to U.S. and Western European cultures which emphasize rational cost-benefit analysis, and de-emphasize the importance of relationships and emotions. Cultures which see relationship issues as central aspects of the conflict may find principled negotiation less useful. (Click here to read about the limits to principled or interest-based negotiation.) CULTURE AND CONFLICT

By Michelle July 2003 Culture is an essential part of conflict and conflict resolution. Cultures are like underground rivers that run through our lives and relationships, giving us messages that shape our perceptions, attributions, judgments, and ideas of self and other. Though cultures are powerful, they are often unconscious, influencing conflict and attempts to resolve conflict in imperceptible ways. Cultures are more than language, dress, and food customs. Cultural groups may share race, ethnicity, or nationality, but they also arise from cleavages of generation, LeBaron

socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, ability and disability, political and religious affiliation, language, and gender -- to name only a few. Two things are essential to remember about cultures: they are always changing, and they relate to the symbolic dimension of life. The symbolic dimension is the place where we are constantly making meaning and enacting our identities. Cultural messages from the groups we belong to give us information about what is meaningful or important, and who we are in the world and in relation to others -- our identities. Cultural messages, simply, are what everyone in a group knows that outsiders do not know. They are the water fish swim in, unaware of its effect on their vision. They are a series of lenses that shape what we see and don't see, how we perceive and interpret, and where we draw boundaries. In shaping our values, cultures contain starting points and currencies[1]. Starting points are those places it is natural to begin, whether with individual or group concerns, with the big picture or particularities. Currencies are those things we care about that influence and shape our interactions with others. How Cultures Work Though largely below the surface, cultures are a shifting, dynamic set of starting points that orient us in particular ways and away from other directions. Each of us belongs to multiple cultures that give us messages about what is normal, appropriate, and expected. When others do not meet our expectations, it is often a cue that our cultural expectations are different. We may mistake differences between others and us for evidence of bad faith or lack of common sense on the part of others, not realizing that common sense is also cultural. What is common to one group may seem strange, counterintuitive, or wrong to another. Cultural messages shape our understandings of relationships, and of how to deal with the conflict and harmony that are always present whenever two or more people come together. Writing about or working across cultures is complicated, but not impossible. Here are some complications in working with cultural dimensions of conflict, and the implications that flow from them: Culture is multi-layered -- what you see on the surface may mask differences below the surface.

Therefore, cultural generalizations are not the whole story, and there is no substitute for building relationships and sharing experiences, coming to know others more deeply over time. Culture is constantly in flux -- as conditions change, cultural groups adapt in dynamic and sometimes unpredictable ways. Therefore, no comprehensive description can ever be formulated about a particular group. Any attempt to understand a group must take the dimensions of time, context, and individual differences into account. Culture is elastic -- knowing the cultural norms of a given group does not predict the behavior of a member of that group, who may not conform to norms for individual or contextual reasons. Therefore, taxonomies (e.g. "Italians think this way," or "Buddhists prefer that") have limited use, and can lead to error if not checked with experience. Culture is largely below the surface, influencing identities and meaning-making, or who we believe ourselves to be and what we care about -- it is not easy to access these symbolic levels since they are largely outside our awareness. Therefore, it is important to use many ways of learning about the cultural dimensions of those involved in a conflict, especially indirect ways, including stories, metaphors, and rituals. Cultural influences and identities become important depending on context. When an aspect of cultural identity is threatened or misunderstood, it may become relatively more important than other cultural identities and this fixed, narrow identity may become the focus of stereotyping, negative projection, and conflict. This is a very common situation in intractable conflicts. Therefore, it is useful for people in conflict to have interactive experiences that help them see each other as broadly as possible, experiences that foster the recognition of shared identities as well as those that are different.

Since culture is so closely related to our identities (who we think we are), and the ways we make meaning (what is important to us and how), it is always a factor in conflict. Cultural awareness leads us to apply the Platinum Rule in place of the Golden Rule. Rather than the maxim "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," the Platinum Rule advises: "Do unto others as they would have you do unto them." Culture and Conflict: Connections Cultures are embedded in every conflict because conflicts arise in human relationships. Cultures affect the ways we name, frame, blame, and attempt to tame conflicts. Whether a conflict exists at all is a cultural question. In an interview conducted in Canada, an elderly Chinese man indicated he had experienced no conflict at all for the previous 40 years.[2] Among the possible reasons for his denial was a cultural preference to see the world through lenses of harmony rather than conflict, as encouraged by his Confucian upbringing. Labeling some of our interactions as conflicts and analyzing them into smaller component parts is a distinctly Western approach that may obscure other aspects of relationships. Culture is always a factor in conflict, whether it plays a central role or influences it subtly and gently. For any conflict that touches us where it matters, where we make meaning and hold our identities, there is always a cultural component. Intractable conflicts like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir are not just about territorial, boundary, and sovereignty issues -- they are also about acknowledgement, representation, and legitimization of different identities and ways of living, being, and making meaning. Conflicts between teenagers and parents are shaped by generational culture, and conflicts between spouses or partners are influenced by gender culture. In organizations, conflicts arising from different disciplinary cultures escalate tensions between co-workers, creating strained or inaccurate communication and stressed relationships. Culture permeates conflict no matter what -- sometimes pushing forth with intensity, other times quietly snaking along, hardly announcing its presence until surprised people nearly stumble on it.

Culture is inextricable from conflict, though it does not cause it. When differences surface in families, organizations, or communities, culture is always present, shaping perceptions, attitudes, behaviors, and outcomes. When the cultural groups we belong to are a large majority in our community or nation, we are less likely to be aware of the content of the messages they send us. Cultures shared by dominant groups often seem to be "natural," "normal" -- "the way things are done." We only notice the effect of cultures that are different from our own, attending to behaviors that we label exotic or strange. Though culture is intertwined with conflict, some approaches to conflict resolution minimize cultural issues and influences. Since culture is like an iceberg -- largely submerged -- it is important to include it in our analyses and interventions. Icebergs unacknowledged can be dangerous, and it is impossible to make choices about them if we don't know their size or place. Acknowledging culture and bringing cultural fluency to conflicts can help all kinds of people make more intentional, adaptive choices. Culture and Conflict: How to Respond Given culture's important role in conflicts, what should be done to keep it in mind and include it in response plans? Cultures may act like temperamental children: complicated, elusive, and difficult to predict. Unless we develop comfort with culture as an integral part of conflict, we may find ourselves tangled in its net of complexity, limited by our own cultural lenses. Cultural fluency is a key tool for disentangling and managing multilayered, cultural conflicts. Cultural fluency means familiarity with cultures: their natures, how they work, and ways they intertwine with our relationships in times of conflict and harmony. Cultural fluency means awareness of several dimensions of culture, including
• • • •

Communication, Ways of naming, framing, and taming conflict, Approaches to meaning making, Identities and roles.

Each of these is described in more detail below.

Communication refers to different starting points about how to relate to and with others. There are many variations on these starting points, and they are outlined in detail in the topic Communication, Culture, and Conflict. Some of the major variations relate to the division between high- and low-context communications, a classification devised by Edward T. Hall.[3] In high-context communication, most of a message is conveyed by the context surrounding it, rather than being named explicitly in words. The physical setting, the way things are said, and shared understandings are relied upon to give communication meaning. Interactions feature formalized and stylized rituals, telegraphing ideas without spelling them out. Nonverbal cues and signals are essential to comprehension of the message. The context is trusted to communicate in the absence of verbal expressions, or sometimes in addition to them. High-context communication may help save face because it is less direct than low-context communication, but it may increase the possibilities of miscommunication because much of the intended message is unstated. Low-context communication emphasizes directness rather than relying on the context to communicate. From this starting point, verbal communication is specific and literal, and less is conveyed in implied, indirect signals. Low-context communicators tend to "say what they mean and mean what they say." Low-context communication may help prevent misunderstandings, but it can also escalate conflict because it is more confrontational than high-context communication. As people communicate, they move along a continuum between high- and low-context. Depending on the kind of relationship, the context, and the purpose of communication, they may be more or less explicit and direct. In close relationships, communication shorthand is often used, which makes communication opaque to outsiders but perfectly clear to the parties. With strangers, the same people may choose low-context communication. Low- and high-context communication refers not only to individual communication strategies, but may be used to understand cultural groups. Generally, Western cultures tend to gravitate toward low-context starting points, while Eastern and Southern cultures tend to high-context communication. Within these huge categories, there are important differences and many variations. Where high-context communication tends to be

featured, it is useful to pay specific attention to nonverbal cues and the behavior of others who may know more of the unstated rules governing the communication. Where lowcontext communication is the norm, directness is likely to be expected in return. There are many other ways that communication varies across cultures. High- and lowcontext communication and several other dimensions are explored in Communication, Culture, and Conflict. Ways of naming, framing, and taming conflict vary across cultural boundaries. As the example of the elderly Chinese interviewee illustrates, not everyone agrees on what constitutes a conflict. For those accustomed to subdued, calm discussion, an emotional exchange among family members may seem a threatening conflict. The family members themselves may look at their exchange as a normal and desirable airing of differing views. Intractable conflicts are also subject to different interpretations. Is an event a skirmish, a provocation, an escalation, or a mere trifle, hardly worth noticing? The answer depends on perspective, context, and how identity relates to the situation. Just as there is no consensus across cultures or situations on what constitutes a conflict or how events in the interaction should be framed, so there are many different ways of thinking about how to tame it. Should those involved meet face to face, sharing their perspectives and stories with or without the help of an outside mediator? Or should a trusted friend talk with each of those involved and try to help smooth the waters? Should a third party be known to the parties or a stranger to those involved? John Paul Lederach, in his book Preparing for Peace: Conflict Transformation Across Cultures, identifies two third-party roles that exist in U.S. and Somali settings, respectively -- the formal mediator and the traditional elder.[4] The formal mediator is generally not known to those involved, and he or she tries to act without favoritism or investment in any particular outcome. Traditional elders are revered for their local knowledge and relationships, and are relied upon for direction and advice, as well as for their skills in helping parties communicate with each other. The roles of insider partial (someone known to the parties who is familiar with the history of the situation and the webs of relationships) and outsider neutral (someone unknown to the parties who has no stake in the outcome or continuing relationship with the parties) appear in a range of

cultural contexts. Generally, insider partials tend to be preferred in traditional, highcontext settings, while outside neutrals are more common in low-context settings. These are just some of the ways that taming conflict varies across cultures. Third parties may use different strategies with quite different goals, depending on their cultural sense of what is needed. In multicultural contexts, parties' expectations of how conflict should be addressed may vary, further escalating an existing conflict. Approaches to meaning-making also vary across cultures. Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars suggest that people have a range of starting points for making sense of their lives, including:

universalist (favoring rules, laws, and generalizations) and particularist (favoring exceptions, relations, and contextual evaluation) specificity (preferring explicit definitions, breaking down wholes into component parts, and measurable results) and diffuseness (focusing on patterns, the big picture, and process over outcome)

inner direction (sees virtue in individuals who strive to realize their conscious purpose) and outer direction (where virtue is outside each of us in natural rhythms, nature, beauty, and relationships)

synchronous time (cyclical and spiraling) and sequential time (linear and unidirectional).[5]

When we don't understand that others may have quite different starting points, conflict is more likely to occur and to escalate. Even though the starting points themselves are neutral, negative motives are easily attributed to someone who begins from a different end of the continuum.[6] For example, when First Nations people sit down with government representatives to negotiate land claims in Canada or Australia, different ideas of time may make it difficult to establish rapport and make progress. First Nations people tend to see time as stretching forward and back, binding them in relationship with seven generations in both directions. Their actions and choices in the present are thus relevant to history and to their progeny. Government negotiators acculturated to Western European ideas of time may find the telling of historical tales and the consideration of projections generations into the future

tedious and irrelevant unless they understand the variations in the way time is understood by First Nations people. Of course, this example draws on generalizations that may or may not apply in a particular situation. There are many different Aboriginal peoples in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and elsewhere. Each has a distinct culture, and these cultures have different relationships to time, different ideas about negotiation, and unique identities. Government negotiators may also have a range of ethno cultural identities, and may not fit the stereotype of the woman or man in a hurry, with a measured, pressured orientation toward time. Examples can also be drawn from the other three dimensions identified by HampdenTurner and Trompenaars. When an intractable conflict has been ongoing for years or even generations, should there be recourse to international standards and interveners, or local rules and practices? Those favoring a universalist starting point are more likely to prefer international intervention and the setting of international standards. Particularlists will be more comfortable with a tailor-made, home-grown approach than with the imposition of general rules that may or may not fit their needs and context. Specificity and diffuseness also lead to conflict and conflict escalation in many instances. People, who speak in specifics, looking for practical solutions to challenges that can be implemented and measured, may find those who focus on process, feelings, and the big picture obstructionist and frustrating. On the other hand, those whose starting points are diffuse are more apt to catch the flaw in the sum that is not easy to detect by looking at the component parts, and to see the context into which specific ideas must fit. Inner-directed people tend to feel confident that they can affect change, believing that they are "the masters of their fate, the captains of their souls."[7] They focus more on product than process. Imagine their frustration when faced with outer-directed people, whose attention goes to nurturing relationships, living in harmony with nature, going with the flow, and paying attention to processes rather than products. As with each of the above sets of starting points, neither is right or wrong; they are simply different. A focus on process is helpful, but not if it completely fails to ignore outcomes. A focus on outcomes is useful, but it is also important to monitor the tone and direction of the process. Cultural fluency means being aware of different sets of starting points, and

having a way to speak in both dialects, helping translate between them when they are making conflict worse. These continua are not absolute, nor do they explain human relations broadly. They are clues to what might be happening when people are in conflict over long periods of time. We are meaning-making creatures, telling stories and creating understandings that preserve our sense of self and relate to our purpose. As we come to realize this, we can look into the process of meaning making for those in a conflict and find ways to help them make their meaning-making processes and conclusions more apparent to each other. This can be done by storytelling and by the creation of shared stories, stories that are coconstructed to make room for multiple points of view within them. Often, people in conflict tell stories that sound as though both cannot be true. Narrative conflict-resolution approaches help them leave their concern with truth and being right on the sideline for a time, turning their attention instead to stories in which they can both see themselves. Another way to explore meaning making is through metaphors. Metaphors are compact, tightly packaged word pictures that convey a great deal of information in shorthand form. For example, in exploring how a conflict began, one side may talk about its origins being buried in the mists of time before there were boundaries and roads and written laws. The other may see it as the offspring of a vexatious lawsuit begun in 1946. Neither is wrong -the issue may well have deep roots, and the lawsuit was surely a part of the evolution of the conflict. As the two sides talk about their metaphors, the more diffuse starting point wrapped up in the mists of time meets the more specific one, attached to a particular legal action. As the two talk, they deepen their understanding of each other in context, and learn more about their respective roles and identities. Identities and roles refer to conceptions of the self. Am I an individual unit, autonomous, a free agent, ultimately responsible for myself? Or am I first and foremost a member of a group, weighing choices and actions by how the group will perceive them and be affected by them? Those who see themselves as separate individuals likely come from societies anthropologists call individualist. Those for whom group allegiance is primary usually come from settings anthropologists call collectivist, or communitarian. In collectivist settings, the following values tend to be privileged:

• • • • •

cooperation filial piety (respect for and deference toward elders) participation in shared progress reputation of the group interdependence

In individualist settings, the following values tend to be privileged:
• • • • •

competition independence individual achievement personal growth and fulfillment self-reliance

When individualist and communitarian starting points influence those on either side of a conflict, escalation may result. Individualists may see no problem with "no holds barred" confrontation, while communitarian counterparts shrink from bringing dishonor or faceloss to their group by behaving in unseemly ways. Individualists may expect to make agreements with communitarians, and may feel betrayed when the latter indicate that they have to take their understandings back to a larger public or group before they can come to closure. In the end, one should remember that, as with other patterns described, most people are not purely individualist or communitarian. Rather, people tend to have individualist or communitarian starting points, depending on one's upbringing, experience, and the context of the situation. Conclusion There is no one-size-fits-all approach to conflict resolution, since culture is always a factor. Cultural fluency is therefore a core competency for those who intervene in conflicts or simply want to function more effectively in their own lives and situations. Cultural fluency involves recognizing and acting respectfully from the knowledge that communication, ways of naming, framing, and taming conflict, approaches to meaningmaking, and identities and roles vary across cultures.

De Bono, E. 1985. Conflicts: A Better Way to Resolve Them. London: Harrap. Filley, A.C. 1975. Interpersonal Conflict Resolution. Glenview IL: Scott, Foresman. Thomas, K.W., & Kilman, R.H. 1974. Conflict Mode Instrument. Tuxedo, New York NY: Xicom. Tosi, H.L., Rizzo, J.R., & Carroll, S.J. 1986. Organizational Behaviour. New York,

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