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