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Conflicts are endemic to human society. Our workplace is so often infected by grudges, rumours, grumbling, criticism, sarcasm, unpleasant comments, gossips and politicking that it leads to an atmosphere of suspicion, mistrust and negativity. Sometimes, the circumstances become so difficult that employees do not even like to see each other’s face, leave aside work together. It spreads to the personal level leading to the mixing of personal and professional lives and annihilating the organizational harmony. Meanwhile, there are companies where employees love to work because they can express their feelings to their colleagues and trust their organization and its leadership. In such places, mutual help takes top priority among employees. The bonding becomes so strong the employees feel like a “family”. Such employees make a better team as they respect their organizations and take utmost interest in their tasks.
Coser 1956 Social conflict is a struggle between opponents over values and claims to scarce status, power and resources. Schelling 1960 Conflicts that are strategic are essentially bargaining situations in which the ability of one participant to gain his ends is dependent on the choices or decisions that the other participant will make.
Deutsch 1973 A conflict exists whenever incompatible activities occur . . . one party is interfering, disrupting, obstructing, or in some other way making another party's actions less effective. Wall 1985 Conflict is processes in which two or more parties attempt to frustrate the other's goal attainment . . . the factors underlying conflict are threefold: interdependence, differences in goals, and differences in perceptions. Pruitt and Rubin 1986 Conflict means perceived divergence of interest, or a belief that the parties' current aspirations cannot be achieved simultaneously. Conrad 1990 Conflicts are communicative interactions among people who are interdependent and who perceive that their interests are incompatible, inconsistent, or in tension. Tjosvold and van de Vliert 1994 Conflict--incompatible activities-- occurs within cooperative as well as competitive contexts . . . conflict parties' can hold cooperative or competitive goals. Poole, and Stutman 1997 Conflict is the interaction of interdependent people who perceive incompatible goals and interference from each other in achieving those goals.
WHY LEARN MORE ABOUT CONFLICT AND CONFLICT MANAGEMENT?
Listening, oral communication, interpersonal communication, and teamwork rank near the top of skills that employers seek in their new hires. When you learn to effectively manage and resolve conflicts with others, then more opportunities for successful team memberships are available to you. If we can learn to manage this highly probable event called conflict (we average five conflicts per day), then we are less apt to practice destructive behaviours that will negatively impact our team. Although conflict may be misunderstood and unappreciated, research shows that unresolved conflict can lead to aggression. Most of us use conflict skills that we observed growing up, unless we have made a conscious effort to change our conflict management style. Some of us observed good conflict management, while others observed faulty conflict management. Most of us have several reasons to improve our conflict-management skills. Faculty members should help students develop their conflict management skills. Most people do not resolve conflicts because they either have a faulty skill set and/or because they do not know the organization’s policy on conflict management. All team members need to know their conflict styles, conflict intervention methods, and strategies for conflict skill improvement.
HOW DO PEOPLE RESPOND TO CONFLICT?
FIGHT OR FLIGHT
Physiologically we respond to conflict in one of two ways—we want to “get away from the conflict” or we are ready to “take on anyone who comes our way.” Think for a moment about when you are in conflict. Do you want to leave or do you want to fight when a conflict presents itself? Neither physiological response is good or bad—it’s personal response. What is important to learn, regardless of our initial physiological response to conflict, is that we should intentionally choose our response to conflict. Whether we feel like we want to fight or flee when a conflict arises, we can deliberately choose a conflict mode. By consciously choosing a conflict mode instead of to conflict, we are more likely to productively contribute to solving the problem at hand. Below are five conflict response modes that can be used in conflict.
The assessment takes less than fifteen minutes to complete and yields conflict scores in the areas of avoiding. None of these modes is wrong to use. Typically we respond to conflict by using one of five modes: • Competing • Avoiding • Accommodating • Compromising • Collaborating Each of these modes can be characterized by two scales: assertiveness and cooperation. COMPROMISING The compromising mode is moderate assertiveness and moderate cooperation. competing.WHAT MODES DO PEOPLE USE TO ADDRESS CONFLICT? All people can benefit. compromising. accommodating. from learning conflict management skills. The following sections describe the five modes. The information may help each team member to characterize her/his model for conflict management. Some people define compromise as “giving up more 5 . HOW TO DISCERN YOUR CONFLICT MODE The Thomas-Kidman Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI)5 is a widely used assessment for determining conflict modes. but there are right and wrong times to use each. both personally and professionally. and collaborating.
if you keep a list of the number of times you have accommodated someone and then you expect that person to realize.than you want. when you have equal power status. that she/he should now accommodate you. Times when the accommodating mode is appropriate are to show reasonableness. or keep peace. Times when the compromising mode is appropriate are when you are dealing with issues of moderate importance. Some people use the accommodating mode when the issue or outcome is of low importance to them. For example. without your communicating to the person. Compromising mode can also be used as a temporary solution when there are time constraints. ACCOMMODATING SKILLS • Forgetting your desires • Selflessness • Ability to yield 6 . The accommodating mode can be problematic when one uses the mode to “keep a tally” or to be a martyr. or when you have a strong commitment for resolution. develop performance. COMPROMISING SKILLS • Negotiating • Finding a middle ground • Assessing value • Making concessions ACCOMMODATING The accommodating mode is low assertiveness and high cooperation. create good will.” while others see compromise as both parties winning.
Times when the competing mode is appropriate are when quick action needs to be taken. or when you are in a position of lower power. Competing Skills • Arguing or debating • Using rank or influence • Asserting your opinions and feelings • Standing your ground • Stating your position clearly AVOIDING The avoiding mode is low assertiveness and low cooperation. Avoiding Skills • Ability to withdraw • Ability to sidestep issues • Ability to leave things unresolved 7 . to buy some time. to reduce tensions. or when one is protecting self-interests. Many times people will avoid conflicts out of fear of engaging in a conflict or because they do not have confidence in their conflict management skills.• Obeying orders COMPETING The competing conflict mode is high assertiveness and low cooperation. when unpopular decisions need to be made. when vital issues must be handled. Times when the avoiding mode is appropriate are when you have issues of low importance.
when when the issues are too important to compromise. when improving relationships. if your team is establishing initial parameters for how to work effectively together. Collaboration has been described as “putting an idea on top of an idea on top of an idea…in order to achieve the best solution to a conflict. or when learning. 8 . the collaborating mode should be used when the conflict warrants the time and energy.COLLABORATING Collaboration Skills • Active listening • No threatening confrontation • Identifying Collaborating mode is high assertiveness and high cooperation. collaborating takes a great deal of time and energy. the time and energy necessary to collaboratively resolve the conflict is probably not beneficial. Times when the collaborative mode is appropriate are when the conflict is important to the people who are constructing an integrative solution. However. then using the collaborating mode could be quite useful.” The best solution is defined as a creative solution to the conflict that would not have been generated by a single individual. Therefore. With such a positive outcome for collaboration. For example. merging perspectives. On the other hand. if your team is in conflict about where to go to lunch today. when gaining commitment. some people will profess that the collaboration mode is always the best conflict mode to use.
Self-concept: How we think and feel about ourselves affect how we approach conflict. or less) with the person with whom we are in conflict? Practice: Practice involves being able to use all five conflict modes effectively.WHAT FACTORS CAN AFFECT OUR CONFLICT MODES? Some factors that can impact how we respond to conflict are listed below with explanations of how these factors might affect us.” If one was socialized this way he will be more likely to use assertive conflict modes versus using cooperative modes. then fight. and the ability to change modes as necessary while engaged in conflict. For example. some males. more. do we know the person we are in conflict with. and opinions are worth being heard by the person with whom we are in conflict? Expectations: Do we believe the other person or our team wants to resolve the conflict? Situation: Where is the conflict occurring. if you have to fight. being able to determine what conflict mode would be most effective to resolve the conflict. feelings. 9 . and is the conflict personal or professional? Position (Power): What is our power status relationship. because they are male. Do we think our thoughts. (that is. and. equal. Gender: Some of us were socialized to use particular conflict modes because of our gender. were taught “always stand up to someone.
incompatibility between opinions. People who have and use effective communication will resolve their conflicts with greater ease and success. conflict refers to a series of disagreement or argument. principles. the differences between political parties like “the familiar conflict between the Congress and the BJP”. Behaviours 10 . for example. with ease and limited energy. Use of words like dispute. The core conflict lies in the opposite interests of the involved parties. Life-experiences: Our life experiences. incompatibility.Determining the best mode: Through knowledge about conflict and through practice we develop a “conflict management understanding” and can. both personal and professional. etc. There are three factors that influence conflict. determine what conflict mode to use with the particular person with whom we are in conflict. have taught us to frame conflict as either something positive that can be worked through or something negative to be avoided and ignored at all costs. UNDERSTANDING CONFLICT According to Oxford English Dictionary. Conflicts are complex processes. They are attitudes. behaviours and structures. Each factor influences and is influenced by the others. and difference of opinion helps us to understand that there is conflict. Attitudes include the parties’ perceptions and misperceptions of each other and of themselves. These can be positive or negative. disagreement. “he had a dispute with his brother”. Communication skills: The essence of conflict resolution and conflict management is the ability to communicate effectively. ideas or interests. It is a state of disharmony between incompatible persons.
TYPES OF CONFLICT Types of conflict are described as following: 1) GOAL CONFLICT Conflict arises when an individual selects or is assigned goals that are incompatible with each other. A conflict exists when two people wish to carry out acts that are mutually inconsistent. or they may want to do different things where the different things are mutually incompatible. 11 . coercion and destructive attacks. Violent conflict behaviour is characterized by threats. such as eat the same mango. The student may then face a conflict because of difficulty in achieving both the goals. Structures refer to the organizational mechanisms. a student may set goals of earning Rs. the student may realize that there aren’t enough hours in the week to achieve both the goals. behaviour and attitudes are constantly changing and influencing each other. gestures signifying conciliation or hostility. such as they both want to stay together but while one wants to go to the cinema hall the other wants to go to the library. Goal incompatibility refers to the extent to which an individual’s or group’s goals are at odds with one another. processes and groups and influence recognition and identify needs. Conflict is a dynamic process in which structure.can include co operation or coercion. 500 a week and achieving an 8-grade point average (on a ten point system) while being enrolled full time during the coming semester. They may both want to do the same thing. For example. A month into the semester.
and when will the sessions be held. Low performing teams are often crippled by affective conflict. emotional states and perceptions. It lowers team effectiveness.2) AFFECTIVE CONFLICT It can be explained as the incompatible feelings and emotions within the individual or between individuals. The causes of affective conflict may be. After negotiations have been concluded. control and affection.equity (fairness). where will they take place. Interpersonal conflicts as well as antagonism between groups are examples of affective conflict. 4) PROCEDURAL CONFLICT Procedural conflict exists when group members disagree about the procedures to be followed in accomplishing the group goal. 3) COGNITIVE CONFLICT It occurs when ideas and thoughts within an individual or between individuals are incompatible. Successful teams use a variety of techniques that help them keep ideas separated from people. The effects of cognitive conflict are mainly positive. dissatisfaction of social needs such as inclusion. Most affective conflict is focussed on personalized anger or resentment. The parties may have procedural conflicts over who will be involved in the negotiations. A hallmark of high performing teams is their ability to critically consider and evaluate ideas. like better higher productivity and more creativity. different interpretations about 12 . Unionmanagement negotiations often involve procedural conflicts before the negotiations actually begin.
" 7) Interest Conflicts Interest conflicts are caused by competition over perceived incompatible needs. or have competing assessment procedures. Conflicts of interest result when one or more of the parties believe that in order to satisfy his or her needs. or misperceptions miscommunication. A variety of interests and intentions underlie and motivate positions in 13 . 6) Data Conflicts Data conflicts occur when people lack information necessary to make wise decisions. Supporting the safe and balanced expression of perspectives and emotions for acknowledgment (not agreement) is one effective approach to managing relational conflict. disagree on which data is relevant.how a grievance system is to operate provide another example of procedural conflict. Other data conflicts may be genuine incompatibilities associated with data collection. interpretation or communication. Relationship problems often fuel disputes and lead to an unnecessary escalating spiral of destructive conflict. Interestbased conflict will commonly be expressed in positional terms. 5) Relationship Conflicts Relationship conflicts occur because of the presence of strong negative emotions. repetitive poor communication negative behaviors. or or stereotypes. the needs and interests of an opponent must be sacrificed. Some data conflicts may be unnecessary since they are caused by poor communication between the people in conflict. Most data conflicts will have "data solutions. interpret information differently. are misinformed.
9) Value Conflicts Value conflicts are caused by perceived or actual incompatible belief systems." "right" or "wrong. etc. Interest-based conflict is best resolved outcomes.negotiation and must be addressed for maximized resolution. It can be helpful to assist parties in conflict to appreciate the external forces and constraints bearing upon them. and psychological issues (perceptions of trust. physical resources.). positive intentions and desired experiential . People can live together in harmony with different value systems. organizational changes.). Value disputes arise only when people attempt to force one set of values on others or lay claim to exclusive value systems that do not allow for divergent beliefs. and so forth can make structural conflict seem like a crisis. Parties' appreciation that a conflict has an external source can have the effect of them coming to jointly address the imposed difficulties. desire for participation. parties must be assisted to define and express their individual interests so that all of these interests may be jointly addressed. time (too little or too much). 8) Structural Conflicts Structural conflicts are caused by forces external to the people in dispute. Structural conflicts will often have structural solutions." Differing values need not cause conflict. fairness. Values explain what is “good" or "bad. procedural issues (the way the dispute is to be resolved). time. Interest-based conflicts may occur over-substantive issues (such as money. Limited physical resources or authority. respect. etc. geographic constraints (distance or proximity). It is of no use to try to change value and belief 14 through the maximizing integration of the parties' respective interests." "just" or "unjust. For an interest-based dispute to be resolved. Values are beliefs that people use to give meaning to their lives.
ambitions. culture. All leaders and members of the organisation need to be alert to group dynamics that can spill over into conflict. conflict can arise from the individual differences or ambitions mentioned earlier. 10) Conflict between individual People have differing styles of communication. In our diverse society. religion and the workplace and can sometimes change from healthy competition to destructive conflict.systems during It relatively can. 11) Conflict between groups of people Whenever people form groups. 15 . helpful values support expression acknowledgment by the other party. or from rivalry between sub-groups or factions. participant's however. and we must be alert to preventing and resolving situations where conflict arises. 12) Conflict within a group of people Even within one organisation or team. of short be their and strategic to and mediation each for beliefs interventions. This happens in the fields of sport. political or religious views and different cultural backgrounds. they tend to emphasise the things that make their group "better than" or "different from" other groups. the possibility of these differences leading to conflict between individuals is always there.
a CBO. Important things to know about "conflict" and "conflict management": The differences between "competition" and "conflict" 16 . so that conflict does not become so serious that co-operation is impossible. a business or a government.What do organizations use conflict management for? For any organisation to be effective and efficient in achieving its goals. a political party. Conflict management is the process of planning to avoid conflict where possible and organising to resolve conflict where it does happen. This could happen to any organisation. as well as clear objectives for each team / department and individual. the people in the organisation need to have a shared vision of what they are striving to achieve. All members of any organisation need to have ways of keeping conflict to a minimum .and of solving problems caused by conflict. before conflict becomes a major obstacle to your work. You also need ways of recognising and resolving conflict amongst people. as rapidly and smoothly as possible. whether it is an NGO.
though. When competition becomes unfriendly or bitter. They area) Poor communication that arises from semantic difficulties. wants."Competition" usually brings out the best in people. Researches on conflict highlight two models. MODELS OF CONFLICT Models of conflict help us to understand the processes and factors involved in conflict episode. scientific inventions or outstanding effort in solving a community problem.the process model and the structural model. politics or work. There are three factors precipitating the condition for conflict in the frustration stage. In fact. They are as follows1. Conflict process follows five stages occurring sequentially one after other.and this can bring out the worst in people. fair and friendly competition often leads to new sporting achievements. PROCESS MODEL The process model views conflict between two or more parties in terms of the internal dynamics of conflict episodes. FRUSTRATION This emotion arises when one party perceives the other party as interfering with the satisfaction of his own needs. 17 . community affairs. conflict can begin . objectives. misunderstandings and noise in the communication channels. etc. whether in sport. as they strive to be top in their field.
b) the structure that includes variables like size. STRUCTURAL MODEL 18 . The parties involved define the conflict situation and the salient alternatives available.the orientation in handling conflicts. in turn. reward 2. c) Personal variables that include individual value systems and the personality characteristics that account for individual’s differences. which. etc. member-goal systems. 4. affect the behaviour of the other party. CONCEPTUALIZATION This stage focuses on the way each party understands and perceives the situation. leadership styles. compatibility. BEHAVIOUR Here one can observe the actions that result from the perception of conflict that influences the behaviour of each party. the strategic objectives which match with orientation and the tactical behaviour to achieve the objectives set. INTERACTION The interaction between the two parties either escalates or de escalates the conflict. 3. degree of specialization in the task assigned to group members. These influences affect the results in three areas.
and arbitration procedures. INCENTIVE STRUCTURE The objective reality which gives rise to conflict viz. SOCIAL PRESSURE The pressure arising from cultural values.The structural model identifies the parameters that shape the conflict episode. which constrain and shape the behaviour of those conflicting parties. conflict of interests in competitive issues and common problems. interest. 2. The above models suggest that conflict can be defined as an interpersonal dynamic which is shaped by the internal and external environments of the parties involved and this dynamic is manifested in a process which affects group performance either functionally or dysfunctionally. RULES AND PROCEDURE This parameter includes the decision making machinery. i.e. organizational work group norms. 4.. FUNCTIONAL AND DYSFUNCTIONAL CONFLICTS FUNCTIONAL CONFLICT 19 . negotiation. decision rules. etc 3. abilities and personality. There are four such parameters described below1. BEHAVIOURAL PREDISPOSITION This includes one party’s motives.
undermining morale or self concept of human existence. maintain and strengthen group boundaries. stimulating involvement in the discussion and building group cohesion.Functional conflict is understood as the creation or resolution of the conflict that often leads to constructive problem solving. Of course. It has serious negative effects. it leads to alliances with other groups. aggression. In some cases. improving the quality of decisions. Intense conflict over a prolonged period affects individuals emotionally and physically and this gives rise to psychosomatic disorders and in some cases and a total breakdown of rules. The various responses to conflict are shown as below20 . Within a group. anxiety and stress. esteem and ego. It creates difficulties in communication between individuals. creating bonds between loosely structured groups or bringing together different individuals and groups in a community to fight a common threat. breaks personal and professional relationships and reduces effectiveness by causing tension. Many a time. thereby. introduction of conflict motivates individual to perform better and work harder. conflict may define. DYSFUNCTIONAL CONFLICT Dysfunctional conflict can be understood as an undesirable experience that is avoided. It satisfies certain psychological needs like dominance. people and inters relationship that exists within them. This will result in clarification of important problems and defining and sharpening of the issues as well. it facilitates an understanding of the problem. contributing to the group’s distinctiveness and increasing group solidarity and cohesion. providing an opportunity for constructive use and release of aggressive urges.
They are characterized as low motivational. 1. CONFLICT AND PERFORMANCE As conflict intensity increases. increment in conflict intensity badly affects performance. Zone 2 (optimum level of conflict). After a certain point.Zone 1 (low level of conflict). stagnant and non-responsive. however. and Zone 3 (high level of conflict). and psychosomatic zones. lack of trust and withholding of information lead to communication gap and reduction of job performance in case the parties in conflict are interdependent in completing their jobs. 21 . The graph can be divided into three zones on the basis of level of conflict. This. It may be due to low motivation. Besides. LOW LEVEL OF CONFLICT (ZONE 1): When the conflict level is low. An extremely low level of conflict can result in complacency and poor performance due to lack of innovation. the behaviour of the employees is observed to be apathetic. Deep and lasting conflicts that are not addressed may even trigger violence among employees or between employees and others. so does the level of performance. has a limit. If the group is in the low motivational zone then there is the necessity of stimulating conflict in order to help the individual/ group move towards the effective zone. effective.In an organizational set up. lower employee morale and decline in the market share of product/ services and consequent loss of productivity. Conflict based on competition among the co workers becomes harmful when the goal of the organization is higher product quality. it is observed that conflict may lead to work sabotage.
self critical and innovative. attitudinal framework. optimism. It was observed that the types of conflict determine the nature of relationship with performance. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CONFLICT AND PERFORMANCE IN TEAM A series of experiments have been conducted to examine the relationship between the levels of different levels of conflict and team performance. task conflict. Types of conflict can be affective conflict. OPTIMAL LEVEL OF CONFLICT (ZONE 2): The behaviour of the employee is observed to be viable. personality framework. The upper limit of the effective zone varies from person to person. chaotic and uncooperative behaviour. job experience. risk taking. etc. process conflict. 3. It is the effective zone leading to high productivity outcome. if necessary. HIGH LEVEL OF CONFLICT (ZONE 3): It is expressed in terms of disruptive. The performance of the employee in this zone is badly affected and once an employee reaches this stage. It can be described as the psychosomatic zone. A manager needs a degree of creativity to determine strategies and tactics for reducing or.2. increasing the level of conflict. it is extremely difficult to retrieve him back to the effective zone. 22 . Proper care should be taken to ensure that the level of intensity does not cross the upper limit of the effective zone. both in terms of the task and individual attitudes. It depends on the tolerance level of an individual and it is determined by job compatibility.
It is manifested by tension. Researches have shown that task conflict 23 . Task conflict may cause unease among individuals and weaken their commitment towards the team. It generally has a negative effect on team performance. the performance of the team is adversely affected. opinions and perspectives. Extremely high conflict may lead to member dissatisfaction and low commitment to the team. Relationship between affective conflict and performance: Affective conflict focuses on interpersonal differences. 3. Relationship between process conflict and performance: Process conflict exists when team members disagree about the procedures to be followed in accomplishing the team goal. As the intensity of conflict increases. Relationship between task conflict and performance: Task conflict has generally been found to have a positive effect on task performance. The effects of this conflict include behaviours like distraction in the members’ attention.1. provided that the level of conflict is appropriate to the complexity and uncertainty of the team’s work. reduction in their ability to think clearly and encouragement of perceptions of hostile intentions in other’s actions. 2. as the team members spend their time and energy focusing on each other rather than on the task and therefore the information processing ability is limited. It is a perception of incompatibility that other members are preventing the accomplishment of a goal. Team members have an opportunity to express their own voice. argument and withdrawal.
A variety of different drives that compel the individual to act in a certain way. INTRA-PERSONAL CONFLICT A common form of intra-personal conflict in everyday life involves choices between mutually exclusive goals or incompatible goals. While looking for the success of their own business venture and balancing their family lives. Barriers that may come in between the drive and the goal achievement. Conflict due to frustration: 24 .was effective where decisions were made quickly but not when the decisions were decided slowly. ASPECTS OF INTRA-PERSONAL CONFLICT 1. they often face this kind of conflict. An individual may experience internal conflict due to the presence of: A number of competing needs and roles. Both positive and negative aspects attached to desired goals. Not having a clear understanding of what is expected from the job role. Women entrepreneurs may face the dilemma of being successful in business as well as taking care of their families.
withdrawal. His inner conflict can be expressed in different types of behaviour such as aggression. can be major hindrance in achieving his goal. Intra-individual goal conflict can be identified depending on the nature of the choices. It is a conflict between two positive goals. For example. For example. Conflict due to goal: Conflict occurs when an individual has to select one option from among many alternatives. a job seeker must cope with an approach-approach conflict while deciding which of two outstanding but equally 25 .Frustration occurs when a motivated drive is blocked before a person reaches a desired goal. Selection of one option eliminates other alternatives. This creates a conflict within the individual leading to frustration. A. He can pursue his studies if he gets scholarship. Financial help. It can be approachapproach. then it becomes a powerful barrier towards attaining the goal. consider an intelligent but poor student who got selected in one of the top universities in the US to pursue his Ph. an employer faces an approach-approach conflict when he/she must choose between two highly qualified applicants for a single position. compromise and regression. If he cannot get the scholarship.D. if not received in time. displacement. The reactions or the behavioural patterns of the employees when faced with a barrier are described in the figure below: 2. or approach-avoidance. approach-approach conflict: It arises when an individual has to choose between two attractive alternatives. avoidance-avoidance. It can be selecting a job offer against continuing research. The barrier can be overt (physical) or covert (mental-social-psychological). Similarly. degree.
This is the case where two goals have negative valence and the person has to decide on one of them.a person has a physical illness that is very uncomfortable. a student who is vegetarian has to eat either chicken or fish during ragging period. but he is scared of getting operated. G1------------------------INDIVIDUAL---------------------------G2 (-VE VALENCE) VALENCE) G1 and G2 stand for Goal 1 and Goal 2 respectively. this person 26 (-VE . both scheduled for the same evening. In social context. Two kinds of behaviour are likely to be conspicuous in avoidanceavoidance conflicts. Consider these three cases. As one of the negative goals is approached. G1 or G2. The result in all the three cases is that the person is caught between two unattractive options.appealing jobs offers to accept. This causes conflict within the individual as to which one to go for i. G1 and G2 stand for Goal 1 and Goal 2 respectively. avoidance-avoidance conflict: It involves a choice between two equally unattractive options. B. It is because the strength of each motive to approach a desired goal is strong.e. a woman has to decide between the task she intensely dislikes or she loses her job. such as ulcers. the person finds it increasingly repellent and consequently retreats or withdraws from it. After withdrawing from this goal. a conflict may arise when a person wants to go to a friend’s house as well as to watch movie. The person is initially caught between the two alternatives. it can be represented as: G1------------------------------INDIVIDUAL--------------------------G2 (+VALENCE) (+ VALENCE) Here. Here two attractive goals are before the individual and both have positive valence for him. Diagrammatically.
C. 1. or when an employee is offered a promotion. approach-avoidance conflict: In certain situations. G ------------------(+ve & -ve SOURCES OF INTRA-PESONAL CONFLICT The sources of intra-personal conflict discussed here are cognitive dissonance and neurotic tendencies within the individual. the individual faces conflict when he has to decide whether to approach or avoid a particular goal that has both positive as well as negative qualities. “I am against prejudice” but “I don’t want people of other religion living in my neighbourhood. A student may face it while choosing a course that gives job assurance after the course completion but involves uninteresting syllabus.” 27 . INDIVIDUAL----------------VALENCE) This is not an uncommon situation in organizational settings where many goals have mixed outcomes for an individual. COGNITIVE DISSONANCE: Cognitive dissonance is an unpleasant state that occurs when an individual discovers inconsistencies between two of their attitudes or their behaviour.comes closer to the other negative goal but finds out that this too is unbearably repelling. For example.
“I am on diet” but “I am having an ice-cream” To resolve the inconsistencies and discomfort. Subordinates. These reactions of the subordinates give the manager a stronger sense of 28 . rules and regulations. In turn. Their excessive distrust and urge to control triggers and conflict with others. Managers having neurotic personality use excessively tight organizational controls like budgets. They are often fearful of uncertainty and risk. that create inner conflict. NEUROTIC TENDENCIES: Neurotic tendencies are irrational personality mechanisms that an individual uses. not just distrustful of others. Obtain more information about the issue. especially with subordinates who feel micromanaged and distrusted. in turn. our attitudes and behaviour are inconsistent.Sometimes. inner conflict often results in behaviours that lead to conflict with other people. They rely on hunches and impressions rather than available facts and advices. Such managers usually don’t use participation and consultation in their decision-making unless asked to do so by some higher authority. 2. often try to even secure and protect themselves from further abuse. because they distrust people. They are unable to resolve their conflicts. often unconsciously. Individuals with strong neurotic tendencies struggle unsuccessfully with intra-personal conflict. monitoring systems etc. individual either has to Change his thoughts or behaviours.
Emotional conflicts tend to evolve when people do not constructively deal with their frustration. (b) They feel better about each other and their own jobs. The manager’s goal is to identify and manage conflict before it escalates to physical aggression. conflict awareness 29 . STAGES OF INTERPERSONAL CONFLICT There are three stages of interpersonal conflict. Substantive conflicts arise due to work-related matters.employee worthlessness. differences in viewpoints and opinions pertaining to a group task. distress or resentment. The nature of interpersonal conflict in organizations can be of two types: substantive (content based) and emotional (emotion based) conflict. It is beneficial if the aftermath of the conflict reveals that(a) Both individuals are able to work better together. It is otherwise called relationship conflict or affective conflict. (d) They consider their abilities to handle future conflicts improved. INTERPERSONAL CONFLICT It can be between co-workers. Developing conflict stage – In initial stage of conflict there are three levels. anger. Managers should be able to identify whether a conflict between two individuals has been helpful or harmful. For example. (c) Both express satisfaction about the way the conflict was resolved. It convinces him to intensify his attempt to control and punish subordinates. They are latent conflict. fear. team members or room mates.
anxiety. interrupting and shouting. silence. physical assault is expressed in behaviours like physical contact. stress and difference stage. but could prove tuff. negativism. avoidance and denial. poor communication and unpredictable behaviour. physical assault and threat. intense feelings. AGGRESSIVE CONFLICT STAGE A manager would not like the conflict in his team to reach this stage. friction and frequent disagreement. physical posturing. Tension can be recognised by distrust. Latent conflict is indicated by characteristic behaviour changes such as isolation. physical signs. This stage is expressed in three sub stages like verbal abuse. nervous. it is almost difficult to handle the conflict. taunting. withdrawal and over SENSITIVITY ARE THE symptoms of frustration BEHAVIOURIAL CONFLICT INDICATORS 30 . Frequent disagreement is expressed in behaviours like being negative. no communication and passive behaviour. gestures. clenching fist etc. Tonality. arguments and blaming and resorting to use of power. intention to harm and aggression. Verbal abuse is identified in behaviours such as name calling.and frustration in employees. Conflict awareness stage can be recognised by behaviour like complaints. Once it reaches this stage. RECOGNISABLE CONFLICT STAGE The recognisable behaviour that are generally observed are tension. of opinions. self centred behaviour. sarcasm. Friction is one of the clear expression of inter personal conflict that can be recognised by uncooperative. anger . Highest priority has to be applied to resolve the matter. Physical threats can be observable in behaviours as interfering into others space.
Rules of support: this includes offering practical help on a work related task. standing in for colleagues in their absence. Body language Surprises Withholding bad news Open disagreement Fighting for certain specific goals Strong public statements Increasing lack of respect No discussion of progress SOURCES OF INTERPERSONAL CONFLICT RELATIONSHIP RULES Our relationships are governed by a set of informal rules. giving advice. Four different types of relations rules have being identified. the behaviour most people thinks is appropriate or inappropriate in a particular context. Rules of intimacy: this can be understood as respecting the other person’s privacy and refraining from engaging in sexual activity with subordinates or within professional relationship. encouraging or guiding subordinates or clients so on. 31 .
someone who is conscientious would find it difficult to work with a person who is rather laid back in his approach. GENDER AND AGE RELATED ISSUESPersonality Clash Interpersonal conflict may occur when two or more persons come from different backgrounds. Task related Rules: all professional relationships. For example. whether teacher -student or doctor-patient. The working relationships between employees are affected when relationship rules are broken. an understanding of the rules is shared by both the parties or is clarified by the professional concerned. someone who is very rigid in his way of working would find It difficult to work with someone who is very flexible. In general. GROUP/ TEAM CONFLICT 32 . One should not criticise others in public. a doctor is expected to advice and treats the patient. family traditions and socialisation process) and hence may interpret the same facts differently. Sometimes misperception. plan and assigned work. nor should one discuss with others what has being told to him or her in confidence. It may also be due to difference in cultures or because of different values and beliefs they hold. misunderstanding or disagreements about the way the work should be conducted becomes potential source of conflict. share different experiences (upbringing.Rules of relating to third parties: others not involved in our day to day interactions can have a major effect on our immediate relationships. PERSONALITY. For example a teacher is expected to prepare the lessons. are largely governed by rules which relate to the completion of specific task.
the golden eggs if you will. Conflict is bound to happen. In this sense. Conflicts between people in work groups. and other organizational forms of face-to-face groups are inevitable. Conflict arises in groups because of the scarcity of freedom. is where social behavior causes groups of individuals to conflict with each other. conformity within a group. and resources. task forces. destructive conflict creates hostility between the members. bringing up problems and alternative solutions while still valuing others in small groups allows the group to work forward. This conflict is often caused by differences in social norms. In the case of small group communication. these conflicts may be destructive as well as constructive. and religion. Both constructive and destructive conflict occurs in most small groups. It is much like poisoning the goose that lays the golden eggs. When destructive conflict is used in small groups. It can also refer to a conflict within these groups. committees. to some extent. As we have mentioned. It is very important to accentuate the constructive conflict and minimize the destructive conflict. golden eggs which may be even better than what the unnourished goose could have produced. but if we use it constructively then it need not be a bad thing. position. either cease being produced or are at least inferior in quality. Rewards and 33 . values. also called group intrigues. This poisons group synergy and the results. Using constructive conflict within small groups has the opposite effect. People who seek power therefore struggle with others for position or status within the group. It is much like nourishing the goose so that it continues to produce the golden eggs. People who value independence tend to resist the need for interdependence and.Group conflicts. it is counterproductive to the long term goal.
At the core of every conflict is a 34 . winning is more acceptable than losing. all of which tends to intensify intra-group conflict. Group meetings are often conducted in a win-lose climate — that is. and members are inclined to compete with each other for these prizes. In general. The loyalty to your ethnic heritage can be quite powerful to the point that it can drive some people to doing things that may seem pointless and senseless.recognition are often perceived as insufficient and improperly distributed. and competition is more prevalent than cooperation. Dee Kelsey and Pam Plumb identify these sources of conflict: • • • Miscommunication and misinformation Real or perceived differences in needs and priorities Real or perceived differences in values. beliefs. ETHNIC GROUP CONFLICT Ethnic group conflicts are very real concerns that many governments try to always deal with through peaceful means. individual or subgroup interaction is conducted for the purpose of determining a winner and a loser rather than for achieving mutual problem solving. attitudes and culture Structural conditions • Each of these sources of conflict can be approached with specific strategies. conflicts arising from miscommunication and misinformation are easier to resolve than those arising from differences in needs and priorities. SOURCE OF GROUP CONFLICT Conflicts happen in groups for many reasons. In western culture. perceptions.
While the conditions still remain tense and there is still gross inequality in the amount of opportunities that are available for different people in society. The country of Sudan has been in the spotlight in recent years due to the ongoing genocide that has been responsible for displacing millions of Darfurians as well as the death of an untold number. the British territory of Northern Ireland has had to contend with the warring factions of the Catholics and Protestants in the area.fundamental misunderstanding on how things are to be done in society.are the gems that have fueled the wars in the country of Liberia. There are also other parts of Africa that are in current unrest. it's still possible to resolve misunderstandings through a good conversation and a well moderated dialogue between involved parties. such as the one starring Leonardo di Caprio . For so long. The conflict has been due to the inherent differences between the more Arabic Sudanese from the north of the country to the more Sub-Saharan African cultures to the south of the Khartoum . the armed uprising has been stemmed in recent years. many people in Liberia literally toil 35 . While the rest of the world gets something that could be used for a nice piece of jewelry.already a topic of critically-acclaimed films. Protestants have always been used to having better jobs and a better state in life while the Catholics were usually relegated to menial jobs. Africa has gotten the brunt of recent ethnic group violence. The so-called "blood diamonds" .the Sudanese capital. This has made the relationship of the two ethnic groups very contentious but through the efforts of many groups from inside and outside Great Britain. this episode in history proves that despite the statistical data that one might have.
Even their appreciations for silver jewelry or their cooking technique are not alike . What makes Africa ground zero for ethnic conflict is the fact that the Europeans arbitrarily divided the continent without really paying attention to the various tribes that existed within the artificial subdivisions that they've made.and believe it or not. these mundane things can even lead to entire villages being razed. It's almost like they have nothing much in common. NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF GROUP CONFLICTS The win-lose conflict in groups may have some of the following negative effects • • • Divert time and energy from the main issues Delay decisions Create deadlocks 36 . Now that most of the countries are already starting to break away from the clutches of the colonizers. Ethnic conflicts are a fact of life and they've been going on and on for thousands of years. The challenge for the new generation is to rise over the differences and make the world a more peaceful place. The Rwandan genocide of the last decade went on largely ignored by the international community and its basis was purely ethnic. they are left in a daze with a highly fragmented nation.with blood. sweat and tears for these embellishments to our jewelry pieces.
INTERGROUP CONFLICT Conflict between groups is a sometimes necessary. But the group must know how to deal with differences that may arise. The presence of a dissenting member or subgroup often results in more penetration of the group's problem and more creative solutions. sometimes destructive. Intergroup conflict may help generate creative tensions leading to more effective contributions to the organization's goals. such as competition between sales districts for 37 . however. event that occurs at all levels and across all functions in organizations. This is because disagreement forces the members to think harder in an attempt to cope with what may be valid objections to general group opinion.• • • • • • • • • • • Drive unaggressive committee members to the sidelines Interfere with listening Obstruct exploration of more alternatives Decrease or destroy sensitivity Cause members to drop out or resign from committees Arouse anger that disrupts a meeting Interfere with empathy Leave losers resentful Incline underdogs to sabotage Provoke personal abuse Cause defensiveness Results of group conflicts Conflict in the group need not lead to negative results.
the highest sales. Thus.  Intergroup conflict is destructive when it alienates groups that should be working together. as the "real" leaders come to the surface and members rally around the "best" thinkers and talkers. The level of morale in the groups increases and infuses everyone with competitive spirit. what is "bad" is ignored. levels: for purchasing versus legal. A clash between a sales department and production over inventory policy would be an example of horizontal strain. the position of the other group is assessed as uniformly "bad. and so on. Vertical involves competition hierarchical example. foremen versus middle management. the judgment and objectivity of both groups are 38 . A struggle between a group of employees and management is an example of vertical strain or conflict. line versus staff. Certain activities and attitudes are typical in groups involved in a win-lose conflict. Each side closes ranks and prepares itself for battle. and deviants are dealt with harshly." with little "good" to be acknowledged or accepted. In addition. when it results in win-lose competition. What is perceived as "good" in one's own position is emphasized. and when it leads to compromises that represent less-than-optimum outcomes. each group tends to distort both its own views and those of the competing group. Horizontal strain involves competition between functions: for example. Minor differences between group members tend to be smoothed over. The power structure becomes better defined. strain research and development between versus engineering. union versus management. Intergroup conflict occurs in two general forms. Members show increased loyalty and support for their own groups. sales versus production. shop workers versus foremen.
mutual solutions to problems cannot be achieved. None of these outcomes is a happy one. Such settlements may be resisted and the winner defeated in underground ways that are difficult to detect and to counter. Hostility between the two groups increases. and undesirable conditions or circumstances continue.impaired. As a result. such as through a strike or a lockout in a labor-management dispute.technique which stresses the achievement of harmony between disputants Dominance or Power Intervention . Or the conflict may be settled by a higher authority. neither side wins. Each side phrases its questions and answers in a way that strengthens its own position and disparages the other's. the side having the greater power wins. other than the level at which the conflict exists 39 .a management strategy which includes no attention or creating a total separation of the combatants or a partial separation that allows limited interaction Smoothing . both are losers. the other side loses. Strategies for Managing Group Conflicts Avoidance . Or the conflict may go unresolved. mutual understandings are buried in negative stereotypes. are often deeply resented by the loser. Disputes settled on the basis of power. It is easy to see that under the conditions described above. rational behavior is severely inhibited.the imposition of a solution by higher management. When such groups meet to "discuss" their differences. When this happens. constructive.
Five common responses are listed below. we tend to get comfortable with one set of responses. If necessary. as individuals and as members of groups. such as testing the members' ability and willingness to compromise. but that may be at the expense of one or all of the conflicting parties A trained conflict resolver can begin with an economical intervention. Do you recognize yourself in this list? • • • • • I avoid conflict. such as getting group members to clarify and reaffirm shared goals. 40 . find middle ground. and/or termination as last resorts. he or she moves through a systematic series of interventions.Compromise . STYLES OF DEALING WITH INTERGROUP CONFLICT Those who study people and conflict have developed theories about how we. I compete.strategy that seeks a resolution which satisfies at least part of the each party's position Confrontation . I compromise. resorting to confrontation. seek a better solution. try to win with my own solution. respond to conflict. I accommodate others to keep the peace. I collaborate. In general. enforced counseling.strategy featuring a thorough and frank discussion of the sources and types of conflict and achieving a resolution that is in the best interest of the group. even though we can learn skills allowing us to respond to each situation differently.
In truth. The choice for the individual and for the group is what style best matches the situation and the desired outcome. You also convey that you are listening fully by asking questions that allow speakers to open up. thinking and wanting to happen. You convey that you are listening through the language of your body (by making eye contact. ROLES AND SKILLS FOR FACILITATORS 41 . You can do this by asking questions to determine the sources of the conflict and offering a description. by nodding) and by restating and summarizing what someone have said. testing it to see if others also see things as you do. By continuing to question and test. Personal and group skills for dealing with conflict The basic skills for dealing with conflict have to do with describing the conflict in such a way that people don’t feel personally attacked. by smiling. allowing them to focus on what they are feeling. and have found agreement with your framing of the conflict. the bedrock skill is listening—listening for facts as well as feelings. the group will come to understand what the conflict is about. you may be able to suggest a group process for finding a solution. If you have listened well. In order to do this work. This kind of acknowledgement of another person is often a powerful way to defuse situations that have become tense or disruptive. all of these conflict response styles work in some situations and not so well in others. by leaning forward.
a facilitator needs to develop skills to call the group’s attention to how it is doing its work or how individual members are behaving. both behaviour and its impact on the group. Several experts have described the process of holding up the mirror to the group. helping the group be more effective. either to move the group forward or to hold it back. If you decide it does. accomplish its work and maintain relationships. Decide whether what is going on needs to be mirrored to the group. Facilitators act in service to the group. This publication won’t make you an expert at dealing with and resolving conflict in groups. it has provided some ideas 42 . describe what you have noticed in a non-blaming way. Ask if the group wants to do anything differently. In addition to the skills of listening and questioning already noted. Remind the group members that they can also hold the mirror. Facilitators can help the group establish ground rules and procedures that lead to conflict resolution. Facilitators do not have a vested interest in a particular solution. Safe space can become creative space for finding solutions. However.A facilitator in group conflict situations creates safe space for all participants to feel fully heard. or intervening: • • • • • • Notice what is going on. they do not take sides in a conflict. Test the impact you sense the behaviour is having on the group. These skills are like holding up a mirror so that the group can observe itself and make changes. or suggest new behaviour. respected and supported.
ways that we tend to deal with conflict. Conflict takes many forms in organizations. check out the other publications in this series. There is the inevitable clash between formal authority and power and those individuals and groups affected. jealousies. how the work should be done and how long and hard people should work. and between unions and management. despite the need for interdependency in most work. Top Ten reasons of organizational conflicts 1. organizations encourage employees to compete with one 43 . There are subtler forms of conflict involving rivalries.about where conflict comes from. they will not cooperate. and struggles for power and favor. This is exaggerated when. Divisions and departments often have different objectives. through their reward systems. role definitions. 2. There are jurisdictional disagreements among individuals. and a process for a group to use in conflict situations. There is also conflict within individuals — between competing needs and demands — to which individuals respond in different ways. departments. values and interests between people working together. If you are interested in learning more and improving your skills as a facilitator. There are disputes over how revenues should be divided. Employees are more knowledgeable and comfortable being solo contributors than being thorough members of a team. If their members cannot find common values and goals. personality clashes. ORGANISATIONAL CONFLICT Organizational conflict is a state of discord caused by the actual or perceived opposition of needs.
To motivate each employee to contribute maximum productivity. Good decisions are further undermined by a short-term. but they usually do not know how to do so in a way that can be heard and understood effectively. which most organizations do not demonstrate well from executive level downward to front line employees. 7. 4. 8.another. input or feedback from employees. rather than from that of the organization as a whole. Differences in personality. crisis approach to problemsolving. 9. Organizational problems and responsibilities are analyzed from individual or departmental viewpoints. approach to tasks and individual values create even more friction and tension than that caused by racial or cultural background differences. Employees are neither trained nor prepared to negotiate shared areas of responsibility and productivity gaps comfortably. Good communication requires trust. Yet they seldom know how to ask for meaningful information. Managers would rather do the work themselves than take responsibility for motivating others to do their best work. managers must demonstrate insight. 6. Supervisors may state their expectations of employee job performance. 44 . Teamwork is a concept that must be learned and applied throughout the organization. 5. 3. Executives need significant information from front-line employees to make good decisions. dedication and flexibility. a suspension of assumptions and hard work.
The effective management of workplace conflict requires an understanding of the nature and sources of conflict in the workplace. organizational. In many workplaces there are strong ethno-cultural and racial sources of conflict as well as gender conflict. Disputes are merely a by-product of conflict. People often bring their stresses from home into the office leading to further conflict. and external factors. The first step in uncovering workplace conflict is to consider the typical sources of conflict. This should be distinguished from disputes. gossip. They are the outward articulation of conflict. Small and large changes occur constantly within organizations. but disputes do not exist without conflict. There are a variety of sources of workplace conflict including interpersonal. change related. might not be so easily noticed. Interpersonal Interpersonal conflict is the most apparent form of conflict for workplace participants. Much conflict exists in every workplace without turning into disputes. Also language and personality styles often clash. This may lead to charges of harassment and discrimination or at least the feeling that such things exist. however. and rumours. An 45 . Conflict.10. It is easy enough to observe the results of office politics. arguments. Conflict can exist without disputes. grievances. but the emotions these changes generate are seldom addressed. Conflict occurs when there is a perception of incompatible interests between workplace participants. Typical disputes come in the form of formal court cases. creating a great deal of conflict in the workplace. threats and counter threats etc.
Again surveys. In addition. All organizations experience such conflict. different levels of tolerance for risk taking. Technological change can cause conflict. as can change work methodologies. leading to further stress and conflict. Labour/management and supervisor/employee tensions are heightened by power differences. A thorough review of the workplace is suggested for such sources of conflict. workload and benefits. interviews and focus groups can help reveal these sources of conflict. Organizational There are a number of organizational sources of conflict. 46 . organizational sources of conflict can be predicted based upon best practices from similar organizations. conflict can arise where there are perceived or actual differences in treatment between departments or groups of employees. Also there can be work style clashes.additional source of workplace conflict can be found in varying ideas about personal success. Many workplaces suffer from constant reorganization. seniority/juniority and pay equity conflict. Conflict can arise over resource allocation. Additionally. Those relating to hierarchy and the inability to resolve conflicting interests are quite predominant in most workplaces. Much can be learned from the lessons of similar organizations that have made a study of this source of conflict. Differences in supervisory styles between departments can be a cause of conflict. the distribution of duties. Trends/Change The modern workplace has significant levels of stress and conflict related to change-management and downsizing. and varying views on accountability.
In line with reorganization, many public and non-profit organizations suffer from downloading of responsibilities from other organizations. Workplace analysts should review the history of the particular organization, reaching back as far as 10 years to determine the level of churn that has taken place. Generally speaking, the more change and the more recent the change, the more likely there will be significant conflict.
External factors can also lead to conflict in the workplace. Economic pressures are caused by recession, changing markets, domestic and foreign competition, and the effects of Free Trade between countries. Conflict arises with clients and suppliers effecting customer service and delivery of goods. Also public and non-profit workplaces in particular can face political pressures and demands from special interest groups. A change in government can have a tremendous impact, especially on public and non-profit organizations. Funding levels for workplaces dependent upon government funding can change dramatically. Public ideologies can have an impact on the way employees are treated and viewed in such organizations. To look for external factors of conflict, have a review of the relationships between the subject organization and other organizations. Companies or government departments that have constant
relationships with outside organizations will find this to be a major source of conflict for workplace participants.
THE THOMAS CONFLICT RESOLUTION APPROACH
Conflict can occur in any situation where one person’s concerns are different from another person’s. As a result, conflict includes both heated arguments and simple differences of opinion. Conflict is not necessarily a bad thing in the workplace; in fact, conflict can often lead to increased effectiveness. Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann have defined five different modes of dealing with conflict and identified the situations in which each mode is most effective. Most people have one or two conflict modes that come naturally to them and are easy to use. For certain types of conflicts, their natural approach may not be the most appropriate. The five conflict handling modes are listed below along with the types of conflict for which they are most effective.
1. COMPETING “My way or the highway” The competing mode is characterized by high assertiveness and low cooperativeness, where the goal is to win. Some appropriate uses for the competing mode are taking quick action, making unpopular decisions, and discussing issues of critical importance when you know for certain that your position is correct. 2. COLLABORATING “Two heads are better than one” The collaborating mode is characterized by high assertiveness and high cooperativeness, where the goal is to work with other people to find a win-win solution. Some appropriate uses for the collaborating mode are integrating solutions, learning, merging perspectives, gaining commitment, and improving relationships.
3. COMPROMISING “Let’s make a deal” The compromising mode is characterized by moderate assertiveness and moderate cooperativeness, and involves negotiating or splitting the difference in opinion. The goal is to find the middle ground. Some appropriate uses for the compromising mode include issues of moderate importance, developing temporary solutions, or when you are under time constraints. 4. AVOIDING “I’ll think about it tomorrow” The avoiding mode is characterized by low assertiveness and low cooperativeness, and means that neither parties concern is satisfied. The goal is to delay. Appropriate uses of the avoiding mode include dealing with issues of little importance, reducing tensions, and buying time. 5. ACCOMMODATING “It would be my pleasure” The
accommodating mode is characterized by low assertiveness and high cooperativeness, and can be acts of selfless generosity or obeying orders. The goal is to yield. The accommodating mode is useful for showing reasonableness, developing performance, creating good will, and dealing with issues of low importance. As mentioned earlier, each of these five modes of handling conflict have strengths and weaknesses, making them more or less appropriate depending on the situation. One of the most important steps in being able to recognize and apply the most effective conflict mode is to be aware of what comes most naturally for yourself. The Thomas- Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument can help people come to that understanding.
Maturity-immaturity theory According to Maslow, Argyris, McGregor, Rogers, and other writers of the so-called growth schools, there is a basic tendency in the 50
which assigns a maximum of six or seven subordinates to report to the chief executive. Thus the principle of task specialization is seen as a device that simplifies tasks for the sake of efficiency. feelings. This process is interrupted whenever a person's environment fails to encourage and nurture these desires. The principle of normal span of control. The principle of chain of command centralizes authority but makes the individual more dependent on his superiors. This effect increases the need for coordination and leads to a circular process of increasing the dependence on the leader. subordinates are bound to find themselves in conflict with the formal organization. As a consequence.development of the human personality toward self-fulfillment. Although this simplifies the job of control for the manager. Formal organizations are rational structures that. and the opportunity to develop his personal potential. Task specialization tends to focus the subordinate's attention on his own narrow function and divert him from thinking about the organization as a whole. broader horizons. it also creates more intensive surveillance of the subordinate. They advance up the narrowing hierarchy where jobs get fewer. and sometimes with each other. it uses only a fraction of a person's capacity and ability. or self-actualization. based on their assumption of emotions. reduces the number of individuals reporting to the head of the organization or to the manager of any subunit. Under such conditions. however. and "fewer" implies competing with others for the decreasing number of openings. and therefore permits him less freedom to control himself. This implies that as an individual matures. he wants to be given more responsibility. and irrationality as human weaknesses. try to replace individual control with institutional control. They 51 .
The following overview 52 . must learn to recognize in addition that order and control can be achieved only at the expense of individual freedom. Finally. All of these defense mechanisms reduce a person's potential for creative. As a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. Possibly the most important part of the conflict resolution process is using the most appropriate resolution for the conflict at hand. using the wrong antidote to attempt to cure an ailment is a waste of time and resources. employees may organize unions or unsanctioned informal groups whose norms of behavior are opposed to many of the organization's goals. constructive activity on the job. Everyone recognizes the necessity for order and control in organizations. however. fixated behavior or apathy. The conflict between the formal organization and the individual will continue to exist wherever managers become remain ignorant with of its causes legitimate or wherever needs of the the organizational structure and the leadership style are allowed to inconsistent the psychologically healthy individual.may respond to organizational pressures and threats by defensive reactions such as aggression against their supervisors and coworkers. all of these reactions to the constraints of the formal organization merely serve to reinforce and strengthen them. Theories on Conflict Management There are perhaps as many theories for managing conflict as there are types of conflict. or psychological withdrawal and daydreaming. To be sure. compromise and gamesmanship. Ranging from formal models to more simple problem-solving techniques. these theories offer many creative approaches to resolving conflict in various settings. Those of us who enter management.
repetitive negative behaviours. Diagnosing. needs. and externals/moods drivers appear in the top half and data. ideas of right versus Relationships—stereotypes. misinformation. Externals/Moods—factors unrelated to the conflict. desires. etc. relationships. the six most common drivers of conflict are: • • • • • • Values—one’s belief systems. data collection problems or concerns money. and structure). fears. geographical constraints. Structure—limitations on resources like time and psychological or physiological issues of parties in conflict information. too much Interests—each party’s wants. interests. According to this model. The Circle of Conflict is a model offered by Furlong and focuses on the various causes.of some conflict management theories may aid in selection of the most effective management tool(s). According to 53 . Data—lack of information. or drivers. and Resolving Conflict. communications. authority issues Furlong’s Circle of Conflict resembles a pie graph divided into six equal parts in which values. The Circle of Conflict Author Gary T. interests. The main premise of this model is that conflict can be more easily resolved if discussions are focused on drivers in the bottom half of the circle (data. organizational structure. poor or failed wrong. etc. of conflict. Furlong provides one of the most comprehensive sources for conflict resolution models in his book The Conflict Resolution Toolbox: Models & Maps for Analyzing. and structure drivers appear in the bottom half of the graph (see figure below).
individuals in conflict can work together to change data problems. it is best to avoid them.Furlong. and overcome geographical constraints. concentrating on these drivers—things over which parties have some control—offers a more direct path toward managing the dispute. Furlong contends that when conflicting parties allow their discussion to stray into drivers in the top half of the circle (values. external issues would make any disagreement Changing worsen. and externals/moods). 54 . Because these drivers represent areas that are not generally within a party’s control. another’s perceptions of perceived past wrongs or dealing with Conversely. where. conflict will likely escalate. allay another’s fears. most of the real resolution work should focus. according to Furlong. relationships. These drivers are in the bottom portion of the circle of conflict.
55 . Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Patrick Lencioni presents another conflict resolution model.The Conflict Resolution Model In his book. Lencioni’s model is a series of concentric circles cantered on a point of conflict (see figure below).
the obstacles closest to the centre of the model—i..This model proposes four different types of obstacles that prevent issues from being resolved.e. These barriers include: 56 . the issue—are the easiest barriers to overcome. According to Lencioni. with obstacles becoming increasingly more difficult to overcome as one moves outward from the centre of the model.
the group should consider the model to decide whether to address the issue. In this way. office process. facts. individual experiences. EQ. • Individual obstacles (the outermost circle)—issues that are specific to each person in the conflict. IQ. opinions. individual moods. largely because they involve personalities and other issues that are not easy to change. they should agree not to let it affect their ability to resolve the larger conflict. Lencioni explains that the key to this model is to understand that these obstacles exist during discussions. Lencioni contends that if parties choose not to address and resolve an issue. prior between company culture can all have an effect on the resolution unresolved legacies or events among the parties. • Relationship obstacles (the next circle out)—issues the people involved in the conflict.• Informational obstacles (circle closest to the issue or conflict)—the easiest issues for most people to discuss. individuals must exchange information. the 57 . and atmosphere in which the conflict is taking place. self-esteem. knowledge. or even position in the organization may affect how people work through conflict. this conflict resolution model resembles Furlong’s Circle of Conflict model as they both reveal hot-button issues managers should avoid when attempting to resolve conflict. the physical space. When a conflict arises because of a particular obstacle. and even values and motives all play a part in causing and eventually resolving conflict. their reputation. • Environmental obstacles (the next circle out)—the politics. Lencioni also states that obstacles at the outside of the circle are more difficult to resolve. and perspectives if they want to move toward resolution. Certainly.
the methods available to resolve conflicts are numerous. authors Dr. There is certainly no right or wrong way to solve a problem. it all depends on the situation and variables involved. In short. supportive environment Calms and focuses toward results Out of Control Conflict Damages relationships and discourages cooperation Results in defensiveness and hidden agendas Wastes time. money and human resources Focuses on fault-finding and blaming Creates enemies and hard feelings Is frustrating. Managed Conflict Strengthens relationships and builds teamwork Encourages open communication and cooperative problem-solving Resolves disagreements quickly and increases productivity Deals with real issues and concentrates on win-win resolution Makes allies and diffuses anger Airs all sides of an issue in a positive. In their book Dealing With People You Can’t Stand.issues toward the outside of the circle in Lencioni’s model and those in the top half of Furlong’s model are the most challenging. Rick Brinkman and Dr. hostile and chaotic 58 . Clearly. divided we can’t stand each other”. Rick Kirschner cleverly describe it this way. The two conflict resolution models presented here illustrate that conflict most often happens when the emphasis is on differences between people. stress producing and energy draining Is often loud. “United we stand. when people concentrate on what they have in common with one another instead of their differences. relationships run smoothly and conflict is significantly minimized. What is right for one conflict may be wrong for another. Parties that are able to talk about these types of issues must trust each other because doing so involves some type of personal risk.
in order for resolution there has to be some change in external conditions) • Is the conflict dependent on conditions that can be easily 59 . socioeconomic status. value. occupation. structure Type of conflict • • Based solely on mix. how do you know this is a source of the conflict? • • • • • relationship. groups. ethnicity.e. interests. age) Conflict sources/triggers How can conflict be described. sexual orientation. insight and clarity.CONFLICT ANALYSIS: SEEING THE CONFLICT CLEARLY Looking at conflict to gain perspective. gender. data. The origins of the conflict • • Who are the parties who is the conflict between (individuals.perception or (communication) Does it exist in fixed conditions (i. religion. within a group) • cultures of the parties (race. understanding.
but are important questions for you to consider as you decide how you will manage this conflict differently and the tools that you will use • • • • Conflict Management Styles The Competing Shark • • • • Sharks use a forcing or competing conflict management style sharks are highly goal-oriented Relationships take on a lower priority Sharks do not hesitate to use aggressive behaviour to resolve conflicts 60 .changed • • • Is the expressed conflict really the central conflict Is the conflict being expressed between the right people Is the real conflict submerged not yet occurring Achieving a satisfying resolution • • are the parties identifying their interests are the parties acknowledging their needs interests are stated not assumed everyone’s interests are explored positions are distinguished from interests interests not positions are the focus of the conversation This will not be part of your final analysis.
creating win-lose situations • Advantage: If the shark's decision is correct. a better decision without compromise can result • Disadvantage: May breed hostility and resentment toward the person using it Appropriate times to use a Shark style when conflict involves personal differences that are difficult to change when fostering intimate or supportive relationships is not critical when others are likely to take advantage of non-competitive behaviour when conflict resolution is urgent. therefore others must lose. and uncooperative. when decision is vital in crisis when unpopular decisions need to be implemented The Avoiding Turtle • Turtles adopt an avoiding or withdrawing conflict management style • Turtles would rather hide and ignore conflict than resolve it. this leads them uncooperative and unassertive • Turtles tend to give up personal goals and display passive behaviour creating lose-lose situations 61 . authoritative. threatening and intimidating • Sharks have a need to win.• Sharks can be autocratic.
bear may be taken advantage of Appropriate times to use a Teddy Bear Style 62 . unassertive and cooperative creating a winlose (bear is loser) situation • • Advantage: Accommodating maintains relationships Disadvantage: Giving in may not be productive. overuse of the style leads to others walking over them Appropriate times to use a Turtle Style: when the stakes are not high or issue is trivial when confrontation will hurt a working relationship when there is little chance of satisfying your wants when disruption outweighs benefit of conflict resolution when gathering information is more important than an immediate decision when others can more effectively resolve the conflict when time constraints demand a delay The Accommodating Teddy Bear • Teddy bears use a smoothing or accommodating conflict management style with emphasis on human relationships • Teddy bears ignore their own goals and resolve conflict by giving into others.• Advantage: may help to maintain relationships that would be hurt by conflict resolution • Disadvantage: Conflicts remain unresolved.
concern is for goals and relationships • Foxes are willing to sacrifice some of their goals while persuading others to give up part of theirs • Compromise is assertive and cooperative-result is either winlose or lose-lose • Advantage: relationships are maintained and conflicts are removed • Disadvantage: compromise may create less than ideal outcome and game playing can result Appropriate times to use a Fox Style when important/complex issues leave no clear or simple solutions 63 . when maintaining the relationship outweighs other considerations when suggestions/changes are not important to the accommodator when minimizing losses in situations where outmatched or losing when time is limited or when harmony and stability are valued The Compromising Fox • Foxes use a compromising conflict management style.
when all conflicting people are equal in power and have strong interests in different solutions when their are no time restraints The Collaborating Owl • Owls use a collaborating or problem confronting conflict management style valuing their goals and relationships • Owls view conflicts as problems to be solved finding solutions agreeable to all sides (win-win) • Advantage: both sides get what they want and negative feelings eliminated • Disadvantage: takes a great deal of time and effort Appropriate times to use an Owl Style when maintaining relationships is important when time is not a concern when peer conflict is involved when trying to gain commitment through consensus building when learning and trying to merge differing perspectives 64 .
and when someone ignores our needs. I would argue that point. and try to undermine the process without confrontation. Whatever the source of your particular conflict. survive for long. It is natural to disagree. However. Sometimes it can come from the frustration of trying to discuss or resolve an issue before the time is right. If you put a group of 10 people together. and asked them about the weather. On the other hand.HANDLING CONFLICT AT WORK Get used to it! Conflict is everywhere. the temperature. It can be rooted in factions or rivalries or in the polarized approaches of strong personalities. we feel frustrated and argumentative. you cannot know how to handle these confrontations without understanding their roots. Nourishment is a basic ‘need’. the wind. and conflict often results from the interaction of people and groups with different values. the humidity. what you may ‘want’. you would get differing opinions on the severity. there is the potential for conflict. but that is rarely the case. we cannot They are two different things. Don’t confuse ‘needs’ with Without food. 65 . if you said you ‘needed’ chocolate. perspectives and beliefs. it is the same for everyone. We all ‘perceive’ things different and to the extent that we think something is important or trivial. Reality is a strange thing! Ideally. Let’s break it down: We all have needs. we may withdraw.
especially if we insist that ours is the only correct opinion. there is the potential for conflict. conflict is not always negative. be careful not to discount the quiet ones. These more passive people may still create problems but quietly trying to undermine the solution that the stronger person pushed through. healthy if it is managed effectively. Just such a trigger has started many religious and political wars! Human beings are emotional creatures. So. without agreeing with their position. while others do not take confrontation well and they will give the power away to the one who cries the loudest. It can be Putting people with This well- diverse opinions in the same room will bring forth a richer solution. However. How one defines and uses power is important in conflict. Each person has their own paradigm – a set of beliefs or principles we hold as truth. Some people feel that they must always come out on top in order to prove their superiority or just because they are always right. when cooler heads should prevail. but only if the conflict is managed. When we talk about an issue with someone who has incompatible or shifting values. facilitated conflict can result in unexpected growth. Conflicts arise when one or more people try to make others change their mind and vote a certain way or when the stronger party tries to take unfair advantage of the weaker party. ingenious 66 . We depend on our feelings to tell us what our ‘gut’ reaction is and sometimes we let them loose under the wrong circumstances. This power struggle scenario has a definite affect on how conflict is managed.
Just the facts! 67 . There are no stupid ideas. new angles on solutions and many more options from which to choose. Ask questions to better understand the positions and give everyone a chance to talk. or create or encourage factions within the group.solutions to problems. When a group gets together. the first thing you need to think about is whether you have the right people in the room to solve a problem. you can use the following steps to manage the issue: Analyze the nature and type of conflict. objectively and in a non-judgmental manner. Everyone’s opinion counts. When conflict does arise. even if we work with them every day. Come up with your own ground rules and make it abundantly clear that this group will play by the rules with NO exceptions. You get the idea. Write the FACTS on a blackboard or flip chart and stay away from emotional. Write your ground rules on a board and refer to them if people violate them. We will not judge others or their opinions in We will consider all ideas advance based on what we think we know of them. subjective statements or inflammatory remarks. We will hear and explore every idea that is presented. We will not engage in bullying behaviour. There is nothing worse than being stuck in conflict that the group cannot resolve because decision-makers are missing from the room during the discussion.
Remember to focus on the result and the 68 . Not everything is critical. Look for ways to compromise. Encourage the team to give and take. Use objective criteria for ranking ideas. Don’t let the group be caught up in a power struggle over ‘how’. If you can’t resolve it by taking it apart and carefully drawing conclusions. “That is stupid”. then consider involving a neutral facilitator to get the group moving toward consensus. but the vision or goal itself. Identify options so that everyone is involved and then let the group discuss and recommend the best approach. I’ll accept this if you give me that. or combine aspects from various options to come up with something that everyone likes. Select a strategy to deal with the conflict. Keep your common interests in mind – not the methods by which you will achieve the interests. You may be able to make some trade-offs. Reinforce the collaborative approach and strive for a ‘win-win’ result. Don’t just throw out an idea because someone says. If the group members are too familiar with each other and know how to ‘push the buttons’ an outside may be the best medicine and can provide a firm hand.
This happens when basic rights or values are at stake and it can result in retaliation by the losers. the apathetic person or group may give in just as a gesture of good will. Finally. whether they want to. and does not care about the input or concerns of the other person or group. The group is trying to accomplish a task or come up with a solution to a problem. or not! Lose/Lose – if the issue is not important to anyone or there are more critical things to think about. You may even want to have every group member sign a commitment document. a person or group may 69 . then everyone HAS to care. monitor your team to ensure you are moving in the right direction and keep an eye open for the following dynamic combinations. You’ll never get anything done! Lose/Win – when an issue is more important to one group than to another group or individual.outcome. Any of these can bring your team to its knees: Win/Lose – one person or group is determined to win. thinking that the issue doesn’t matter all that much anyway. Don’t get so caught up in your conflict that the team produces a poor solution – or no solution at all! Be sure that the entire group signs up for the solution you choose. If the topic is on the table for debate and it is important to the business. and endless cycle of ‘one-upsmanship’.
if your concession is 70 . This scenario can also occur when a confrontation could have devastating results or when the group is making a decision without enough information or without involving the right people. it is possible to use one followed by another or to use two or more at the same time.make a decision without any thought or focus. attack the argument. small groups and organisations. As Nelson Mandela explained in his autobiography "Long Walk to Freedom": "I defeated my opponents without dishonouring them". Be magnanimous: In truth. if one technique does not work. most conflict is over matters of little substance and often it is mostly pride or status that is at stake. No one wins HOW TO RESOLVE CONFLICT This advice is aimed primarily at resolving differences between individuals. This will save you time and energy and you can concentrate on the important issues of difference rather than the smaller ones. Always show respect: However much you disagree with someone. you are unlikely to be particularly rational or in the mood for compromise. try another. Although the principles are listed separately. in such a state. not the man. Consider conceding the point to your opponent. To use a sporting metaphor: play the ball. not the person. but many of the same principles apply to the resolution of conflict between communities and even nations. Also.use whatever seems appropriate to your situation and. Be calm: Conflict usually engenders strong emotions and even anger but. Regard this advice as a tool box .
Try to clear through the perception to discover and agree on how things really are. Apply rationality: Much conflict is not about substance but perception.done with good grace and even some humour. you've already 'lost'). so make an effort to see the situation the way the other person does and to acknowledge their emotions before endeavouring to move beyond them. Be aware of displacement: Especially where anger is concerned. It's no good denying those emotions. One way of doing this is to use phrases such as "Let me try to explain how I see things" or "Please allow me to explain why this is so important to me". it will disarm your opponent and make him/her look small-minded by comparison. What is really worrying the other person? Has another person or company had a similar experience which might prove revealing and helpful? Acknowledge emotions: Facts alone .however rational . In the domestic context. Discuss or debate: So often. Then reverse these points: "I would like to understand better how you see this situation" and "Please explain to me what is important to you in this problem". as anger is displaced. sometimes the source of a conflict is not what it appears to be. conflict is created and/or maintained because there is no real discussion or debate. You won't manage this without discussion and you may need to research the facts and seek evidence.cannot resolve much conflict because how people perceive those facts is coloured by their emotions. an argument about the washing up could in fact be an argument about 71 . for instance. We avoid discussion or debate either because we fear conflict (the situation will rarely be as bad as you fear) or we worry about 'losing' (in which case. We make assumptions about the other person's point of view and willingness to compromise which might be quite wrong.
Be precise: Someone might propose that something be done "sooner rather than later". the British and Irish Governments both wanted their view on the constitutional status of Northern Ireland to be stated first in the agreement. in the Sunning dale talks on the future of Northern Ireland in 1973. Perhaps it will be necessary to cancel some subscriptions or to postpone a planned holiday for a year. His colleague might react against this assuming that we are talking of matter of weeks. If two parties to a dispute don't like their eventual agreement to be called an agreement. In a particularly tough set of negotiations that I led as a national trade union official. try calling it a settlement or a resolution or a concordat. When asked what exactly is meant. I would not accept certain words in the proposed agreement but I allowed them to be used in the covering letter to the agreement. It's not easy to spot displacement. Change the wording: It's amazing how often we disagree about words and how a change of words can change how people view a situation. Instead of throwing everything into doubt and caused unnecessary upset. Think creatively: Try presenting different types of solution from those so far rejected by one of the parties. no argument. be focused. perhaps you could invite him to discuss "a learning opportunity". it might be that the first person explains that he had in mind a programme of several months . For example. the solution was to divide the page in two and present the two statements side by side. It might be necessary to make savings in the family budget. but a warning sign is when matters that does not normally because conflict now appears to do so. Instead of criticising a work colleague for "a mistake".so. so that they both had equal status. 72 .lack of affection.
for instance those between the Israelis and the Palestinians . try a two-centre break. convinced that our prescription or proposal is the best with no real evidence.often take place in locations like Camp David in the USA or a wood in Scandinavia. Consider staging: Much conflict is about change. If you can't agree on whether to see a romantic comedy or an action thriller at the cinema. Seek mediation: This is a process whereby a neutral third party consults with those involved in a conflict to see if the problem can be presented in a way which facilitates a resolution. I was a professional trade union official for 24 years and many of the most productive negotiations between management and union took place in a neutral venue like a hotel. Compromise: This is an obvious point but frequently neglected. see one film this weekend and the other the next weekend.Change the environment: It's no coincidence that some of the toughest political negotiations of all times . Building trust takes time and proof of goodwill. So consider introducing an agreement in stages whereby each action is dependent on another action. Introducing change in stages often makes it more palatable to the person uncomfortable about it (and can make it more manageable for the person promoting it). Sometimes even simply moving from an office to a coffee bar or from a house to a restaurant can make all the difference. If you can't agree on whether to have a city holiday or a beach holiday. The mediator may simply listen and ask questions or he/she may suggest other 73 . Consider sequencing: Much conflict is created and/or aggravated by lack of trust. Experiment or test: Too often we argue in ignorance. Have a trial and review how things go or try two or three ways of doing something and have an honest appraisal of what works best.
conciliation and arbitration do not work or the parties are not willing to try them. apply authority or force. Most problems change over time. 74 . Such a 'settlement' will cause resentment in the party at the receiving end. Therefore. not because they themselves oppose the solution but because they do not want to lose 'face' or be seen by their constituents to have 'given in'. Classically this is approach used in most relationship counselling.ways of looking at the problem or even possible solutions. I can tell you . wait. The two parties may have originally agreed merely to consider the proposed solution (non-binding arbitration) or they may have agreed in advance to accept the decision of the arbitrator (binding arbitration). if one cannot solve a dispute and its resolution can wait. is invited by the conflicting parties to propose a solution. maybe the best approach is to leave things alone for a while. Seek conciliation: This is a similar process to mediation but a little more activist on the part of the third party who will normally attempt to find a solution by proposing a 'third way'. but sometimes this is the only way to resolve a conflict and move on. This approach is often used in industrial disputes. Either the problem solves itself because circumstances change or one's attitude to the problem changes as the heat dies down and other matters assume more prominence. If all else fails. If absolutely necessary.that sometimes people in conflict want someone to impose a solution. from the beginning.as a former trade union negotiator . If mediation. conflict can be resolved in a fashion by one party imposing his/her solution through authority (she is the parent or he is the line manager) or through force (calling in the police or obtaining a legal injunction). Seek arbitration: This is a process involving a third party who.
is not necessarily a bad thing: As long as it is resolved effectively. The good news is that by resolving conflict successfully. it can lead to personal and professional growth. The important thing is to keep wasteful and damaging conflict to a minimum and. however. you can solve many of the problems that it has brought to the surface. giving 75 . The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung once wrote that "The greatest and most important problems of life are all fundamentally insoluble. be aware that conflict cannot always be avoided (especially when fundamental differences. when it does occur. They can never be solved but only outgrown. conflict in the workplace just seems to be a fact of life. In many cases. as opposed to perceived differences. The fact that conflict exists. although this advice is about resolving conflict." Finally. Resolving conflict rationally and effectively In many cases. use the relevant techniques to resolve or at least ease it. We've all seen situations where different people with different goals and needs have come into conflict. There is not always a solution waiting to be found and. effective conflict resolution skills can make the difference between positive and negative outcomes. are involved) and not all conflict is negative (sometimes it 'clears the air'). as well as getting benefits that you might not at first expect: • Increased understanding: The discussion needed to resolve conflict expands people's awareness of the situation.Accept the situation: Conflict is not like mathematics. And we've all seen the often-intense personal animosity that can result. if there is a solution. it is unlikely to be the only one.
it helps to understand two of the theories that lie behind effective conflict resolution techniques: Understanding the Theory: The "InterestBased Relational Approach" The second theory is commonly referred to as the "Interest-Based Relational (IBR) Approach". helping them understand the things that are most important to them. you follow these rules: • Make sure that good relationships are the first priority: As far as possible. and • Improved self-knowledge: Conflict pushes individuals to examine their goals in close detail. Conflicting goals can quickly turn into personal dislike. if conflict is not handled effectively. However. the results can be damaging. Talent is wasted as people disengage from their work. • Increased group cohesion: When conflict is resolved effectively. and a renewed faith in their ability to work together. sharpening their focus. If you're to keep your team or organization working effectively. Teamwork breaks down. In resolving conflict using this approach. To do this. team members can develop stronger mutual respect. and enhancing their effectiveness. And it's easy to end up in a vicious downward spiral of negativity and recrimination. make sure that you treat the other calmly 76 . This conflict resolution strategy respects individual differences while helping people avoid becoming too entrenched in a fixed position. you need to stop this downward spiral as soon as you can.them an insight into how they can achieve their own goals without undermining those of other people.
Listen first. and think about the style that may be appropriate. Then use the process below to resolve conflict. Do your best to be courteous to one-another and remain constructive under pressure. however make sure that people understand that different styles may suit different situations. Over time. Look at the circumstances. your team or your organization. observable elements that will have an impact on the decision. real issues can be debated without damaging working relationships. and a “right” way to solve conflict emerges. • Pay attention By to the interests carefully that you'll are being presented: • listening most-likely understand why the person is adopting his or her position. By separating the problem from the person. 77 . and Using the Tool: A Conflict Resolution Process Based on these approaches. a starting point for dealing with conflict is to identify the overriding conflict style employed by yourself. people's conflict management styles tend to mesh.and that you try to build mutual respect. It's good to recognize when this style can be used effectively. • Set out the “Facts”: Agree and establish the objective. • Keep people and problems separate: Recognize that in many cases the other person is not just "being difficult" – real and valid differences can lie behind conflictive positions. talk second: To solve a problem effectively you have to understand where the other person is coming from before defending your own position.
If appropriate to the situation. emphasize the fact that you are presenting your perception of the problem.STEP ONE: SET THE SCENE. If you are involved in the conflict. you're using an adult. and concerns.) Make sure that people understand that the conflict may be a mutual problem. needs. • • • Restate Paraphrase Summarize And make sure that when you talk. assertive approach rather than a submissive or aggressive style. and see how your actions may be affecting these. 78 . Ask for the other person’s viewpoint and confirm that you respect his or her opinion and need his or her cooperation to solve the problem Try to understand his or her motivations and goals. Be sure to focus on work issues and leave personalities out of the discussion. Here you are trying to get to the underlying interests. STEP TWO: GATHER INFORMATION. Also. try to understand the conflict in objective terms: Is it affecting work performance? Damaging the delivery to the client? Disrupting team work? Hampering decision-making? or so on. agree the rules of the IBR Approach (or at least consider using the approach yourself. Use active listening skills to ensure you hear and understand other’s positions and perceptions. which may be best resolved through discussion and negotiation rather than through raw aggression.
including ones you never considered before. Have Respect… 79 . Be Patient. This is where a technique like win-win negotiation can be useful to find a solution that. then at the very least.if you can't reach a common perception of the problem. However you may also have uncovered real differences between your positions.• Listen with empathy and see the conflict from the other person’s point of view Identify issues clearly and concisely Use “I” statements Remain flexible Clarify feelings • • • • STEP THREE: AGREE THE PROBLEM. Brainstorm possible solutions. You'll need to agree the problems that you are trying to solve before you'll find a mutually acceptable solution. There are three guiding principles here: Be Calm. the conflict may be resolved: Both sides may better understand the position of the other. This sounds like an obvious step. and be open to all ideas. interests and goals can cause people to perceive problems very differently. Sometimes different people will see different but interlocking problems . STEP FIVE: NEGOTIATE A SOLUTION By this stage. you need to understand what the other person sees as the problem. at least to some extent. but often different underlying needs. and a mutually satisfactory solution may be clear to all. satisfies everyone. If everyone is going to feel satisfied with the resolution. it will help if everyone has had fair input in generating solutions. STEP FOUR: BRAINSTORM POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS.
Avoidance can be considered as a powerful tool in conflict resolution. It is the desire to evade the overt demonstration of the disagreement or indifference that can result in withdrawal. real and legitimate differences between people can quickly spiral out of control.” 80 . This is particularly the case where the wrong approaches to conflict resolution are used. the individual may suppress it without airing their differences. resulting in situations where co-operation breaks down and the team's mission is threatened. invoking slow procedures to stifle contact. At a superficial level it may appear that in seeking to avoid contact with the perceived “opposition”/ situation pertaining to the conflict. we are behaving in a non-assertive/ passive manner giving control to the “opposition” and that we have “essentially given up responsibility for ourselves and our actions. A CASE STUDY ON “AVOIDANCE” AS A METHOD OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION “Avoidance is characterized by behaviour where one party may recognise that a conflict exists but chooses to withdraw from it or to suppress it.Key Points Conflict in the workplace can be incredibly destructive to good teamwork. putting problems on hold. Managed in the wrong way. If withdrawal is not possible or desirable. using secrecy to avoid confrontation and appealing to bureaucratic rules to resolve conflict. This style therefore involves ignoring conflicts in the hope that they will go away.
A more in-depth analysis reveals that some forms of avoidance behaviour are distinctively active.although they may be distinct from the goals of the organization/ individual one is opposing. which resulted in no clear terms or holiday periods. there were several intakes for courses. It resulted heavy work load for lecturers and administrative staff. there was a cultural dimension to add to the existing difficulties. This. cultural adaptation to students and management strategy. RICHARDSON has discussed a case to highlight that avoidance is an active mode of conflict resolution. hours were long and the majority of staffs worked six day a week. however. Also. To add to this. which market research had proved correct. The case is follows: The study was conducted in the Stapleton Educational Institute (SEI). brought with it specific difficulties. Since both. offered degree courses on management and economics to both full and part-time students. Through avoidance one may actively achieve one’s goals. higher salaries 81 . full and part-time courses were offered (evenings and weekends). The majority of the academic staff was expatriates recruited on the . The teacher-student ratio was unbalanced in the sense that the stag was less compared to the large number of students.the former having been accustomed to the usual fixed holiday structure of academic employment. such as. The holiday issue was a source of much contention between staff and management. The organization discussed here. Singapore to understand avoidance as a mode of conflict resolution and its effect on group dynamics.principle that an expatriate lecturing team would be an excellent marketing tool.this was very different from other educational institutions.
In this case. The staff avoided overt demonstration of disagreement but expressed in terms of appeals regarding time-off and lecturing hours were done by making specific reference to bureaucratic rulers rather than by open discussion. Senior academic staff adopted a different method of avoidance for being apathetic and reluctant to be involved in new projects. It gave them a common 82 . Clearly there were a number of potential areas for conflict. It led to heavy teaching loads/ limited vacation time. administration/ faculty relations. such as desire to earn more.” Closed” discussions were held among staff about management strategies and employee frustrations.commanded by expatriate staff. Secrecy was maintained where applications for posts elsewhere were made and academic staff using the company’s facilities provided extra tuition. it was observed that the staffs were avoiding conflict but their avoidance had positive outcomes for themselves as individuals and for uniting them as a team. which in some way served as a release. All staff demonstrated general characteristics of avoidance as a means of resolving the conflict they experienced both as a group and as individuals. It was observed that lack of trust from management. they did so with minimal interest. If required to do so as a result of contractual duties. heavy teaching loads and limited vacation time. Informal staff gatherings frequently resulted in airing grievances and complaints among themselves rather than confronting management. general style of management were other issues leading to a great deal of conflict within the organization. but income was not declared.
became the impetus for increasing and maintaining group relations. Collective avoidance. staffs were avoiding and as a result. CONCLUSION The classic view on conflict has always been that conflict in any form is harmful and should be avoided at all cost. because of its positive outcomes.the individual differences had been reconciled and replaced by a common aim to help one another in terms of support for the present and future-but the strengths and bonds created were then being used against the well-being of the organization. 83 . However.identity and sense of unity. But avoidance as a method of conflict resolution is not recommended for the development of a healthy organization. but the avoidance and resultant team building were detrimental to the well-being of the organization as a whole. It covers cases from all the essential areas of conflict and analytically discusses every aspect while striking a clear balance between theory. it can actually boost a company’s growth. cohesion and solidarity were increasing. Ina positive sense. concept and application. modern scholars and the corporate world at large are fast realizing that conflict is not as lethal as considered to be and if maintained within certain parameters. This project tells exactly how and when a conflict can be translated into a successful process and when it should be checked before it spells trouble for the company. In the case of SEI. the group dynamic was becoming stronger.
84 . to challenge their individual positions and ideologies.This project is an attempt to expose varied perspectives. inform and train them in the field. and to inspire.