Let's face it!
At some point in your career, or on your job, you will experience conflict. In many cases, it is inevitable. When there is a mixture of personalities, temperaments, thought processes, and varying views of methodology, there's bound to be some differences. When we really look at work-centered conflict, typically we are looking at how resources are allocated among those who differ in the way they perceive goals, objectives, priorities, and perspectives. We are talking interpersonal relationships at work. Conflict poses a problem when there is no productive resolve or solution that everyone can agree upon; but do realize that the solution mainly hinges on how an individual responds.
Now, if you are dealing with conflicts on your job as a manager or staff member, you may well benefit from the information that I want to share with you. Think about your response to conflict as you read below.
It's very important to understand your style of resolving disputes, and the effectiveness thereof. K.W. Thomas (Conflict and Negotiation Processes) proposes a 4-mode practical and doable model that can be used for personal and professional conflict resolution.
It is very easy to understand and apply. In layman's terms, it goes like this: First grab a sheet of paper and a pen, and write this out. This is about self-assessment, so you will get it.
If you were to draw a big "L" with the vertical line representing a degree of "assertiveness", and the horizontal line representing a degree of "cooperativeness". You have what Ken calls an axis. Assertiveness meaning, it's about your own ideas and concepts, uhh, your own agenda. Ok. Cooperativeness simply meaning, relationship with the other individual.
Now if you exert high assertive behavior, with little to no focus on the relationship, he calls that the "competing" mode. I can see that! So do this, at the top left-side of the vertical line, plot a round dot, and label it- competing. This pretty much says that, at whatever cost to the other person, you want to satisfy the conflict based on your own needs (views). It's about win-win "for me". This is not necessarily all bad, especially if a decision needs to be made in a limited amount of time.
If you were to plot a dot on the bottom right-side of the horizontal line, and label it "accommodating", it simply represents one who is concerned about being co-operative, and typically displays non-assertive behavior. This mode is common among those who believes that the other person is right, and would prefer to keep the relationship in tact. Thomas calls this method, building emotional credit.
When there's no real need to be right, nor building a relationship is important, or if one is not interested in investing time or energy in a conflict, it is called the "avoiding" mode. You can plot that dot on the bottom left-side of the horizontal line, where it connects to the vertical line. I am sure you've heard of the old saying, "pick your battles". This is a classic example of when this mode is used, when the conflict is trivial, or bad timing issues, ie, hot -tempers, or not enough time to think things through.
Last, but not least is the "compromising mode" This is when you are working towards a collaboration. You and I give up equal portions of objectives, we don't get exactly what we want, but its seems fair because you engage one another. Plot that dot at the top right-side of the vertical line.
The reason I thought it was a good idea to draw this out, is so that you can get a visual of what area you may fall in.
So here are a few techniques to consider:
1. Address the conflict in the open among conflicting parties. If it can be easily resolved there, then that's good. If not,
2. You may need to get a neutral party, or mediator.
3. Remember to keep the conflict central to the issues. Attack the problem, and not the person.
4. If you have come to an impasse, retreat, retreat. It's ok to shelf the problem for a moment, then reconvene when the tension is not so strong.
5. If you put the best interest of the company, or team first, it is easier to give and take.
6. It is ok to confront someone, especially if they are in error, but always remember to confront without combating.
At the end of the day, it is good to shoot for the win-win outcome. You get what's important, and you preserve the relationship as well.
Make sure you make this your BEST day ever!