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).

organization members may avoid meetings to prevent themselves from experiencing stress and stress-related symptoms.(a) Fear relates to imaginary concern about something which might happen in the future. Decrease in Productivity . which adversely affects their professional and personal lives. One may fear setbacks. members become stressed. The cost of being in conflict may be measurable (in money terms) or immeasurable. disgrace. People have different moral values and accordingly appreciate a situation in different ways. it could have negative consequences on the overall organization performance. being expressed in terms of human lives. 1985). As a result. (c) Fairness refers to an individual's sense of what is right and what is not right. headaches and become unapproachable. creating conflict situations. (b) Force is a necessary ingredient of any conflict situation. This sense of fairness determines the moral values of an individual. Mental Health Concerns Conflict within an organization can cause members to become frustrated if they feel as if there’s no solution in sight. reprisal or hindrances. Why pay attention to a problem of conflict in organizations Conflicts if not paid attention to by management. In some instances. Force may be ethical or emotional. but can also force a conclusion through acceptable to the conflicting parties. It could be withdrawal of cooperation or approval. (d) Funds or costs can cause conflict. or if they feel that their opinions go unrecognized by other group members. suffering. These forces are instrumental in generating. neglect or loss of morale and self esteem. diversion of skilled labour. (De Bono. which can lead to conflict situations. a fundamental factor learnt in early childhood. Organization members may have problems sleeping. These include. loss of appetite or overeating. strengthening and terminating conflicts.

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

losing and winning grounds.' Fighting as a way of resolving a conflict can only be useful in courtroom situations. individual objectives. A manager should be able to see emerging conflicts and take appropriate pre-emptive action. In today's environment. as it involves 'tactics. vandalism. They can: 1. Health costs 9. the outcome of conflict. Conflict-incited theft. competition for use of resources or differing viewpoints. and various methods by which conflict can be managed in the organization. These have to be integrated and exploited efficiently to achieve organizational objectives. Ways to resolve conflict When two groups or individuals face a conflict situation. conflicts can be used as motivators for healthy change. and should create an open climate for communication between conflicting parties. Loss of investment in skilled employees 6. several factors create competition. & damage 7. What organizations should do in conflict management Conflicts are inescapable in an organization. 1985). they can react in four ways (De Bono. Degraded decision quality A lot of these conflicts are very subtle within an organization. sabotage. Fight. they may be differing departmental objectives. . With this understanding. strategies. offensive and defensive positions. a manager should possess special skills to react to conflict situations. The manager should understand the causes creating conflict. sound or gratifying approach to dealing with a conflict situation. However. which is not a beneficial. where winning and losing becomes a byproduct of the judicial process. Therefore. Restructuring around the problem 8. the manager should evolve an approach for resolving conflicts before their disruptive repercussions have an impact on productivity and creativity.5. yet still have the power to negatively affect an organization’s bottom line. and exposure of weak points.

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

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

If conflicts are not managed properly. is to find goals upon which scientists or groups can agree. such as by reducing some existing perks of the members of the organization. To manage them. A manager should manage conflicts effectively rather than suppress or avoid them. and neutralize the unproductive conflict situation.and not 'Who?' . identify the likely source of the conflict situation 2. . which reduces the productivity and creativity of those involved. Competition between individuals can be enhanced by acknowledging and rewarding the better performers. and helping the emergence of new leadership. Conflict situations can also be introduced by making some organizational changes. as they waste a lot of energy and time. Negotiation Challenges A number of things can occur in a negotiation that can be especially challenging. many problems can be identified and solved by removing obstacles and creating a new environment of individual growth.to get at the root of a problem. such as transferring some group members. A basic tactic in resolving conflicts. Anticipating challenges and developing strategies to deal with them can be helpful when they happen. which can be overcome by improved communication. 3. and invoke tension. calibrate the productiveness of the situation. Basic problems in inter-group behaviour are conflict of goals and communication failures. In the process of resolving conflicts. After stimulating the conflict situation. therefore.others to do the same. a manager should: 1. a manager needs to ask 'What?' and 'Why?' . they can be damaging. A manager can also create a conflict situation by delivering shocks. and to ensure proper communication and interaction. redefining roles. Some conflicts arise because of simple misconceptions.

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

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

honestly and above all. self-image. respectfully. 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. attempts to make you feel inferior. and retaliation. Competing interests include relative results. attempts to make you feel guilty. we tend to avoid these problems. perceived fairness. lack of initiative from other people when problems arise. but only in the short term and at a long term cost. . If we communicate with people openly. belittling remarks and dismissive words are all forms of inappropriate influencing. Behaviors such as these can create resentment. lack of ownership of what has been agreed to. Since the answer is probably no.Sarcastic comments. Price-only Negotiation Negotiators who pay attention exclusively to price turn potentially cooperative deals into adversarial ones. bullying. withdrawal of goodwill. So. he or she has just strengthened his/her argument. They get us what we want. Your best defense against this form of manipulation is asking questions. he or she must be correct in another. While price is an important factor in most deals. Sometimes these aggressive behaviors work. patronizing. Linking Logic This is based on the assumption that if a person is correct in one thing. They are designed to help the other person "win" at your expense. reputation. bribery. one person could ask the other. poor relationships. it is rarely the only one. People care about much more than the absolute level of their own economic outcome. 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. in a debate about modern technology. 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. "Would you give up your cell phone?".

they . Less experienced negotiators often undervalue the importance of developing working relationships with the other parties. 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. and listen. putting the relationship at risk by overly tough tactics of simple neglect. you have to first learn where that person's mind is. focus on important non-price factors such as relationships (short and long-term) and the larger interests. acknowledging that economics aren't everything. Issues Positions topic one on party's the table stands on for the agreement issues Interests . 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. not yours. Handling effective Negotiations in conflict When the parties involved in a conflict want to work toward an amicable resolution. This hardwired assumption that our interests are incompatible implies a zero-sum pie in which my gain is your loss. Before you can change a person's mind. ask many questions. But there is much more to it than that. Neglecting the Other Side's Problem You can't negotiate effectively unless you understand your own interests and your own no-deal options. This is especially true cross-culturally.underlying concerns that would be affected by the resolution Reconciling interests to create value requires patience and a willingness to research the other side.and so on. Successful negotiators agree that overcoming this self-centered tendency is critical. Successful negotiators. agreement requires understanding and addressing the other party's problem as a means to solving your own. Since the other side will say "yes" for its reasons.

In other words they must negotiate to reach an agreement. To avoid this.must engage in a communication process to decide what kind of a deal would be acceptable to both. 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. both before it actually gets underway. sometimes people compromise. Compromise A lose-lose situation is hardly a desirable outcome. negotiation can be handled in different ways. 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. As with conflict management. and settle for something less than that. Arguments cannot be negotiated. 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. Both parties give up a part of what they had originally sought. Although this approach is marked by competitiveness and may create ill will. This demands that emotions be kept under control. The outcome of a negotiation depends on the approach. 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. only proposals can. Negotiating is a delicate process and a lot of thinking must go into it. not hold on to whatever grievances they have or whatever arguments they deem right. and while it is going on. In effect. And for this they must put up or encourage proposals. That is why this is also called the win-lose approach. everybody ends up being a loser. Here what is important is that all the parties concerned must want a solution. 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 .

without any of them being evaluated. Choose the most appropriate solutions. 4. Compromise is a good option when disputed resources are limited. a win-win solution. Once the basic issues have been identified. Implement the solution. if two managers each need a full-time secretary. Follow up on the solution. Even the best plans need to be monitored after they have been implemented. Determine the needs of both parties. However. because everyone ends up feeling satisfied. you could go back to the problem-solving procedure and identify another solution. A while after the plan has been put into action. If both parties can identify what issues are important to the other. This approach works well when the following five steps are followed. they may have to compromise by sharing one secretary. All possible solutions are put down. but budget restrictions make this impossible. Develop a list of possible solutions. such a solution is only possible when the needs of the parties involved do not conflict. . At this stage each solution is evaluated and the ones that are most promising are adopted. Once the best solution is decided upon. 1. meet with the other parties involved and discuss how the solution is working out.depends on the satisfaction of the other. the two parties can sit together and come up with several solutions that would satisfy everyone’s needs. becomes possible. Win-Win Orientation When the needs of the negotiating parties are compatible. 5. If anyone’s needs are still unmet. they would find it easier to work toward a mutually acceptable solution. 2. The win -win approach is superior to other problem-solving styles. and then implement it. which satisfies the needs of all parties. For instance. 3. make sure everyone understands it.

A common goal is shared amongst the members. thinking that others will pick up their slack. 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. Group effectiveness is impacted by certain factors: 1.especially towards either risky or conservative positions (i.GROUP CONFLICT BEHAVIORS Any organization that is larger than one person is a group. Size 5. Interdependence (how much each member relies on their other members to reach their goal) 3. 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 . when a person is not contributing their fair share to the group. which can create conflict.. Composition (what type of people and how the group is made up) 4. Groupthink: This occurs when a group sacrifices critical thinking in order to only have agreement on everything. Groups provide rewards to the members and anything affecting one member affects the entire groups. racial ideas etc. behaviors and interests. Groups are defined as people that see themselves as a unit. and anywhere where there is more than one person there is bound to be different ideas.e. . Group cohesiveness (how well the members all get along) 2.) Social Loafing: This is the absence of individual effort amongst the groups efforts.

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

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

and increases the probability that the group will respond to change.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. Speaking negatively about another person’s viewpoint will only make the conflict more difficult to resolve. 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. respect is shown for the other person's point of view and it becomes more likely that the conflicted parties will reach a compromise. In so doing. and the person being insulted will start to take the conflict personally. Functional conflicts challenge the status quo and therefore further the creation of new ideas. promotes reassessment of group goals and activities. Interruption • Functional conflict involves allowing the other person to completely verbalize a thought without interruption. Conditions for successful engagement in functional Conflict Respect • In order to engage in functional conflict. For example when it improves the quality of decisions. Functional Conflicts are the antidote for groupthink. the parties involved must respect each other’s opinions. stimulates creativity. Cooperation .

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.• Those that engage in functional conflict know that the other party is not the enemy. Coercion • In order for functional conflict to be successful. It often leads to higher stress and a likelihood that employees will burn out. Resolution • Functional conflict focuses on finding a resolution to the problem. Stages of Dysfunctional Conflict . Dysfunctional Conflict Dysfunctional conflict is conflict that leads to a decline in communication or the performance of a group. Personal feelings about the other party that have nothing to do with the conflict should not be considered when trying to solve the problem. each party must avoid resorting to coercion. Organizational Dysfunctional Conflict Dysfunctional conflict within an organization is motivated by egos of employees with competing ambitions. Dysfunctional conflict can be an overabundance of conflict or a lack of sufficient motivating conflict. focusing on a specific solution will correct the issue quickly. Each person can provide valuable insights and suggestions that will help solve the problem--a willingness to cooperate proves this. Employees will also likely feel less satisfaction and less loyalty to the organization.

Intention is the process by which employees' behavior changes due to the conflict. when there is a fixed amount of resources and whatever one party gains. such as agreeing to let our children go to bed an hour later in exchange for mowing the lawn. Usually it's . the other party loses. Recognition is the process by which employees internalize the conflict that affects their behavior. o 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. Integrative negotiations happen on an ongoing basis. We encounter distributive negotiation every time we buy a car or ask for a discount on an as-is item. while results are effects of the conflict on a group. DISTRIBUTIVE AND INTEGRATIVE BARGAING There are two main approaches to any negotiation situation: distributive and integrative strategies. Each are useful in specific contexts. Incompatibility is the source of conflict: misunderstandings and lack of communication. Distributive bargaining Zero-sum or win-lose negotiations (where one party's gain is the other party's loss). and the same negotiator may use either strategy depending upon their goal. 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. Perceived behavior refers to slights and reactions that play into creating conflict. Distributive Basics Distributive negotiation is appropriate in "divide the pie" situations.There are five stages of dysfunctional conflict.

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

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

2003) Negotiations between a union and management when the parties are not in direct conflict over an issue. 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." "win-win bargaining") is a negotiation strategy in which parties collaborate to find a "win-win" solution to their dispute. They are the underlying reasons why people become involved in a conflict. and fears important to each side. What is Integrative or Interest-Based Bargaining? Integrative bargaining (also called "interest-based bargaining."[1] Potential for integration only exists when there are multiple issues involved in the negotiation. desires. 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. Integrative Basics An integrative bargaining situation occurs when it's possible to produce a greater outcome together than either could reach on his own. Most of us use integrative bargaining within our families and between business partners. . "Integrative refers to the potential for the parties' interests to be [combined] in ways that create joint value or enlarge the pie. and when cooperation benefits both parties. and when both stand to benefit from continued discussions. (Brad. It's used when the parties have a relationship or want to establish one. There are often multiple issues to address. Interests include the needs. concerns. This strategy focuses on developing mutually beneficial agreements based on the interests of the disputants. and the negotiations can be complex and ongoing."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.

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

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

22) Perceptions are important because they define the problem and the solution. (1991. not positions. Integrative Tactics Determine your list of priorities.) . (Click here for a description of these strategies. and make a guess about the other party's priorities as well. often something critical to one side is a minor concession to the other.their interests as possible. Share information with each other. first published in 1981 by Roger Fisher and William Ury. Separating the people from the problem means separating relationship issues (or "people problems") from substantive issues. Remember that you will be in other negotiation situations with the other side in the future. and vice versa. and communication. and dealing with them independently. When different parties have different understandings of their dispute effective negotiation may be very difficult to achieve. Fisher.) Fisher. p. 2) focus on interests. Ury and Patton suggest seven basic strategies for handling problems of perception. While there is an "objective reality. PRINCIPLED NEGOTIONS Principled negotiation is the name given to the interest-based approach to negotiation set out in the best-known conflict resolution book. emotion. Find and offer solutions that produce the most gain for the other party as well as for yourself. 3) invent options for mutual gain. (This is what we have been calling framing problems. being honest about your priorities. and be willing to compromise when needed to build goodwill for later. rather than a loss. Ury and Patton observe. The book advocates four fundamental principles of negotiation: 1) separate the people from the problem. People problems." that reality is interpreted differently by different people in different situations. and enough. Getting to Yes. at a minimum that they see the outcome as a win. and 4) insist on objective criteria. tend to involve problems of perception.

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

Fisher. giving us messages that shape our perceptions. LeBaron . They reject the notion that some conflicts are inherently winlose or that positional bargaining is ever a superior approach. Cultures are more than language. Cultures are like underground rivers that run through our lives and relationships. disagree--as do we.) CULTURE AND CONFLICT By Michelle July 2003 Culture is an essential part of conflict and conflict resolution. or reject one that is far better than you might otherwise achieve.S.) In Getting to Yes. Cultural groups may share race. and Patton stress the importance of knowing and improving your BATNA before you conclude negotiations. dress. Fisher. or nationality.Lastly. however. and Patton argue that almost all disputes can be resolved with principled negotiation. Cultures which see relationship issues as central aspects of the conflict may find principled negotiation less useful. they are often unconscious. ethnicity. judgments. Other theorists. and Western European cultures which emphasize rational cost-benefit analysis. For this reason. Ury. It also is more attuned to U. influencing conflict and attempts to resolve conflict in imperceptible ways. but they also arise from cleavages of generation. you might accept an agreement that is far worse than the one you might have gotten. (Click here to read about the limits to principled or interest-based negotiation. Ury. and food customs. but we have found that it needs to be supplemented with other approaches in the case of intractable conflicts. Ury. Though cultures are powerful. and ideas of self and other. attributions. If you don’t know what your alternatives to a negotiated agreement are. Fisher. (Click here for more information on BATNAs. and de-emphasize the importance of relationships and emotions. Principled negotiation is an excellent tool to use in many disputes. and Patton counsel negotiators to know what their alternatives are.

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

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

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

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

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

and Conflict. hardly worth noticing? The answer depends on perspective. Where lowcontext communication is the norm. and he or she tries to act without favoritism or investment in any particular outcome. There are many other ways that communication varies across cultures. and taming conflict vary across cultural boundaries. a provocation. in his book Preparing for Peace: Conflict Transformation Across Cultures. an escalation. and are relied upon for direction and advice. or a mere trifle. Should those involved meet face to face. Intractable conflicts are also subject to different interpretations. Is an event a skirmish. not everyone agrees on what constitutes a conflict.[4] The formal mediator is generally not known to those involved.featured.S. and how identity relates to the situation. High. calm discussion. 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 . identifies two third-party roles that exist in U. so there are many different ways of thinking about how to tame it. Ways of naming. an emotional exchange among family members may seem a threatening conflict. and Somali settings. context. framing. For those accustomed to subdued.and lowcontext communication and several other dimensions are explored in Communication. 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. As the example of the elderly Chinese interviewee illustrates. respectively -. Just as there is no consensus across cultures or situations on what constitutes a conflict or how events in the interaction should be framed. Culture. 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. as well as for their skills in helping parties communicate with each other. Traditional elders are revered for their local knowledge and relationships. The family members themselves may look at their exchange as a normal and desirable airing of differing views. directness is likely to be expected in return.the formal mediator and the traditional elder.

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 . and measurable results) and diffuseness (focusing on patterns. further escalating an existing conflict. binding them in relationship with seven generations in both directions. while outside neutrals are more common in low-context settings. Even though the starting points themselves are neutral. Generally. In multicultural contexts. and generalizations) and particularist (favoring exceptions. including: • universalist (favoring rules. nature.[6] For example. depending on their cultural sense of what is needed. Third parties may use different strategies with quite different goals. negative motives are easily attributed to someone who begins from a different end of the continuum. beauty. breaking down wholes into component parts. highcontext settings. when First Nations people sit down with government representatives to negotiate land claims in Canada or Australia.[5] When we don't understand that others may have quite different starting points. relations. These are just some of the ways that taming conflict varies across cultures. laws. Approaches to meaning-making also vary across cultures. 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. parties' expectations of how conflict should be addressed may vary. and contextual evaluation) specificity (preferring explicit definitions. the big picture. different ideas of time may make it difficult to establish rapport and make progress. and relationships) • synchronous time (cyclical and spiraling) and sequential time (linear and unidirectional). insider partials tend to be preferred in traditional.cultural contexts. conflict is more likely to occur and to escalate. Their actions and choices in the present are thus relevant to history and to their progeny. Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars suggest that people have a range of starting points for making sense of their lives. First Nations people tend to see time as stretching forward and back.

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

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

ways of naming. as with other patterns described. and identities and roles vary across cultures. and taming conflict. 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. while communitarian counterparts shrink from bringing dishonor or faceloss to their group by behaving in unseemly ways. In the end. Individualists may expect to make agreements with communitarians. 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. most people are not purely individualist or communitarian. depending on one's upbringing. escalation may result. people tend to have individualist or communitarian starting points. . one should remember that. framing. since culture is always a factor. experience. and the context of the situation.• • • • • cooperation filial piety (respect for and deference toward elders) participation in shared progress reputation of the group interdependence In individualist settings. Individualists may see no problem with "no holds barred" confrontation. approaches to meaningmaking. Conclusion There is no one-size-fits-all approach to conflict resolution. Rather. Cultural fluency involves recognizing and acting respectfully from the knowledge that communication. 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.

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

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