Conflict ResolutionResolving conflict rationally and effectivelyResolve conflict effectively,with James Manktelow & Amy Carlson.In many cases, conflict in the workplace just seems to be a fact of life. Weve all seensituations where different people with different goals and needs have come into conflict. Andweve all seen the often-intense personal animosity that can result.The fact that conflict exists, however, is not necessarily a bad thing: As long as it is resolvedeffectively, it can lead to personal and professional growth.In many cases, effective conflict resolution can make the difference between positive andnegative outcomes.The good news is that by resolving conflict successfully, you can solve many of the problemsthat it has brought to the surface, as well as getting benefits that you might not at first expect: Increased understanding: The discussion needed to resolve conflict expands zpeoples awareness of the situation, giving them an insight into how they can achieve their own goals without undermining those of other people. Increased group cohesion: When conflict is resolved effectively, team members can develop stronger mutual respect, and a renewed faith in their ability to work together. Improved self-knowledge: Conflict pushes individuals to examine their goals in close detail , helping them understand the things that are most important to them, sharpening their focus, and enhancing their effectiveness.However, if conflict is not handled effectively, the results can be damaging. Conflicting goalscan quickly turn into personal dislike. Teamwork breaks down. Talent is wasted as peopledisengage from their work. And its easy to end up in a vicious downward spiral of negativityand recrimination.If youre to keep your team or organization working effectively, you need to stop thisdownward spiral as soon as you can. To do this, it helps to understand two of the theories thatlie behind effective conflict resolution:Understanding the Theory: Conflict StylesIn the 1970s Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann identified five main styles of dealing withconflict that vary in their degrees of cooperativeness and assertiveness. They argued thatpeople typically have a preferred conflict resolution style. However they also noted that
different styles were most useful in different situations. They developed the Thomas-KilmannConflict Mode Instrument (TKI) which helps you to identify which style you tend towardswhen conflict arises.Thomas and Kilmanns styles are:Competitive: People who tend towards a competitive style take a firm stand, and know whatthey want. They usually operate from a position of power, drawn from things like position,rank, expertise, or persuasive ability. This style can be useful when there is an emergency anda decision needs to be make fast; when the decision is unpopular; or when defending againstsomeone who is trying to exploit the situation selfishly. However it can leave people feelingbruised, unsatisfied and resentful when used in less urgent situations.Collaborative: People tending towards a collaborative style try to meet the needs of allpeople involved. These people can be highly assertive but unlike the competitor, theycooperate effectively and acknowledge that everyone is important. This style is useful when ayou need to bring together a variety of viewpoints to get the best solution; when there havebeen previous conflicts in the group; or when the situation is too important for a simple trade-off.Compromising: People who prefer a compromising style try to find a solution that will atleast partially satisfy everyone. Everyone is expected to give up something, and thecompromiser him- or herself also expects to relinquish something. Compromise is usefulwhen the cost of conflict is higher than the cost of losing ground, when equal strengthopponents are at a standstill and when there is a deadline looming.Accommodating: This style indicates a willingness to meet the needs of others at theexpense of the persons own needs. The accommodator often knows when to give in to others,but can be persuaded to surrender a position even when it is not warranted. This person is notassertive but is highly cooperative. Accommodation is appropriate when the issues mattermore to the other party, when peace is more valuable than winning, or when you want to bein a position to collect on this "favor" you gave. However people may not return favors, andoverall this approach is unlikely to give the best outcomes.Avoiding: People tending towards this style seek to evade the conflict entirely. This style istypified by delegating controversial decisions, accepting default decisions, and not wanting tohurt anyones feelings. It can be appropriate when victory is impossible, when the controversyis trivial, or when someone else is in a better position to solve the problem. However in manysituations this is a weak and ineffective approach to take.Once you understand the different styles, you can use them to think about the mostappropriate approach (or mixture of approaches) for the situation youre in. You can alsothink about your own instinctive approach, and learn how you need to change this ifnecessary.Ideally you can adopt an approach that meets the situation, resolves the problem, respectspeoples legitimate interests, and mends damaged working relationships.
Understanding The Theory: The "Interest-BasedRelational Approach"The second theory is commonly referred to as the "Interest-Based Relational (IBR)Approach". This type of conflict resolution respects individual differences while helpingpeople avoid becoming too entrenched in a fixed position.In resolving conflict using this approach, you follow these rules: Make sure that good relationships are the first priority: As far as possible, make sure that you treat the other calmly and that you try to build mutual respect. Do your best to be courteous to one-another and remain constructive under pressure. 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. By separating the problem from the person, real issues can be debated without damaging working relationships. Pay attention to the interests that are being presented: By listening carefully youll most-likely understand why the person is adopting his or her position. Listen first; talk second: To solve a problem effectively you have to understand where the other person is coming from before defending your own position. Set out the "Facts": Agree and establish the objective, observable elements that will have an impact on the decision. Explore options together: Be open to the idea that a third position may exist, and that you can get to this idea jointly.By following these rules, you can often keep contentious discussions positive andconstructive. This helps to prevent the antagonism and dislike which so-often causes conflictto spin out of control.Using the Tool: A Conflict Resolution ProcessBased on these approaches, a starting point for dealing with conflict is to identify theoverriding conflict style employed by yourself, your team or your organization.Over time, peoples conflict management styles tend to mesh, and a "right" way to solveconflict emerges. Its good to recognize when this style can be used effectively, howevermake sure that people understand that different styles may suit different situations.Look at the circumstances, and think about the style that may be appropriate.Then use the process below to resolve the conflict:Step One: Set the SceneIf appropriate to the situation, agree the rules of the IBR Approach (or at least consider usingthe approach yourself.) Make sure that people understand that the conflict may be a mutualproblem, which may be best resolved through discussion and negotiation rather than throughraw aggression.
If you are involved in the conflict, emphasize the fact that you are presenting your perceptionof the problem. Use active listening skills to ensure you hear and understand others positionsand perceptions. Restate. Paraphrase. Summarize.And make sure that when you talk, youre using an adult, assertive approach rather than asubmissive or aggressive style.Step Two: Gather InformationHere you are trying to get to the underlying interests, needs, and concerns. Ask for the otherpersons viewpoint and confirm that you respect his or her opinion and need his or hercooperation to solve the problem.Try to understand his or her motivations and goals, and see how your actions may beaffecting these.Also, try to understand the conflict in objective terms: Is it affecting work performance?damaging the delivery to the client? disrupting team work? hampering decision-making? orso on. Be sure to focus on work issues and leave personalities out of the discussion. Listen with empathy and see the conflict from the other persons point of view. Identify issues clearly and concisely. Use "I" statements. Remain flexible. Clarify feelings.Step Three: Agree the ProblemThis sounds like an obvious step, but often different underlying needs, interests and goals cancause people to perceive problems very differently. Youll need to agree the problems thatyou are trying to solve before youll find a mutually acceptable solution.Sometimes different people will see different but interlocking problems – if you cant reach acommon perception of the problem, then at the very least, you need to understand what theother person sees as the problem.Step Four: Brainstorm Possible SolutionsIf everyone is going to feel satisfied with the resolution, it will help if everyone has had fairinput in generating solutions. Brainstorm possible solutions, and be open to all ideas,including ones you never considered before.Step Five: Negotiate a Solution
By this stage, the conflict may be resolved: Both sides may better understand the position ofthe other, and a mutually satisfactory solution may be clear to all.However you may also have uncovered real differences between your positions. This iswhere a technique like win-win negotiation can be useful to find a solution that, at least tosome extent, satisfies everyone.There are three guiding principles here: Be Calm, Be Patient, Have Respect.Conflict resolution is conceptualized as the methods and processes involved in facilitatingthe peaceful ending of conflict. Often, committed group members attempt to resolve groupconflicts by actively communicating information about their conflicting motives or ideologiesto the rest of the group (e.g., intentions; reasons for holding certain beliefs), and by engagingin collective negotiation. Ultimately, a wide range of methods and procedures foraddressing conflict exist, including but not limited to, negotiation, mediation, diplomacy, andcreative peacebuilding.It may be important to note that the term conflict resolution may also be usedinterchangeably with dispute resolution, where arbitration and litigation processes arecritically involved. Furthermore, the concept of conflict resolution can be thought toencompass the use of nonviolent resistance measures by conflicted parties in an attempt topromote effective resolutionContents 1 Theories and models o 1.1 Dual concern model of conflict resolution 2 Culture-based 3 In animals 4 Education 5 Conflict management o 5.1 Counseling 6 See also 7 Notes 8 References 9 Further reading 10 External linksTheories and modelsDual concern model of conflict resolutionThe dual concern model of conflict resolution is a conceptual perspective that assumesindividuals’ preferred method of dealing with conflict is based on two underlying themes ordimensions: 1. A concern for self (i.e. assertiveness), and
2. A concern for others (i.e. empathy).According to the model, group members balance their concern for satisfying personal needsand interests with their concern for satisfying the needs and interests of others in differentways. The intersection point between these two dimensions ultimately lead individualstowards exhibiting different styles of conflict resolution (Goldfien & Robbennolt, 2007).The dual model identifies five conflict resolution styles/strategies that individuals may usedepending on their dispositions toward pro-self or pro-social goals.1. Avoidance conflict style Characterized by inaction and passivity, avoidance conflict style is typically used when an individual has reduced concern for their own outcomes as well as the outcomes of others. During conflict, these avoiders adopt a ―wait and see‖ attitude, often allowing conflict to phase out on its own without any personal involvement (Bayazit & Mannix, 2003). Unfortunately, by neglecting to address high-conflict situations, avoiders risk allowing problems to fester out of control.2. Yielding conflict style In contrast, yielding or ―accommodating‖ conflict styles are characterized by a high concern for others while having a low concern for one’s own self. This passive pro- social approach emerges when individuals derive personal satisfaction from meeting the needs of others and have a general concern for maintaining stable, positive social relationships. When faced with conflict, individuals with a yielding conflict style tend to give into others’ demands out of respect for the social relationship (e.g., to maintain group unity) because they believe being ―agreeable may be more important than winning‖ (Goldfien & Robbennolt, 2007).3. Competitive conflict style Competitive or ―fighting‖ conflict style maximizes individual assertiveness (i.e., concern for self) and minimizes empathy (i.e., concern for others). Groups consisting of competitive members generally enjoy seeking domination over others, and typically see conflict as a ―win or lose‖ predicament. Fighters tend to force others to accept their personal views by employing competitive, power tactics (e.g., argue; insult; accuse; violence) that foster feelings of intimidation (Morrill, 1995).4. Cooperation conflict style Characterized by an active concern for both pro-social and pro-self behavior, cooperation conflict style is typically used when an individual has elevated interests in their own outcomes as well as in the outcomes of others. During conflict, cooperators collaborate with others in an effort to find an amicable solution that satisfies all parties involved in the conflict. Individuals with this type of conflict style tend to be highly assertive and highly empathetic at the same time. By seeing conflict as a creative opportunity, collaborators willingly invest time and resources into finding a ―win-win‖ solution. According to the literature on conflict resolution, a cooperative conflict resolution style is recommended above all others (Sternberg & Dobson, 1987; Jarboe & Witteman, 1996)
5. Conciliation conflict style Conciliation or ―compromising‖ conflict style is typical of individuals who possess an intermediate-level of concern for both personal and others’ outcomes. Compromisers value fairness and, in doing so, anticipate mutual give-and-take interactions. By accepting some demands put forth by others, compromisers believe this agreeableness will encourage others to meet half-way, thus promoting conflict resolution (van de Vliert & Euwema, 1994). This conflict style can be considered an extension of both ―yielding‖ and ―cooperative‖ strategies.Culture-basedConflict resolution as both a professional practice and academic field is highly sensitive toculture. In Western cultural contexts, such as Canada and the United States, successfulconflict resolution usually involves fostering communication among disputants, problemsolving, and drafting agreements that meet their underlying needs. In these situations, conflictresolvers often talk about finding the win-win solution, or mutually satisfying scenario, foreveryone involved (see Fisher and Ury (1981), Getting to Yes). In many non-Western culturalcontexts, such as Afghanistan, Vietnam, and China, it is also important to find "win-win"solutions; however, getting there can be very different. In these contexts, directcommunication between disputants that explicitly addresses the issues at stake in the conflictcan be perceived as very rude, making the conflict worse and delaying resolution. Rather, itcan make sense to involve religious, tribal or community leaders, communicate difficulttruths indirectly through a third party, and make suggestions through stories (see VinodSwami (1992), Conflict Mediation Across Cultures). Intercultural conflicts are often the mostdifficult to resolve because the expectations of the disputants can be very different, and thereis much occasion for misunderstanding.In animalsConflict resolution has also been studied in non-humans, like dogs, cats, monkeys, snakes,elephants, and primates (see Frans de Waal, 2000). Aggression is more common amongrelatives and within a group than between groups. Instead of creating a distance between theindividuals, however, the primates were more intimate in the period after the aggressiveincident. These intimacies consisted of grooming and various forms of body contact. Stressresponses, like an increased heart rate, usually decrease after these reconciliatory signals.Different types of primates, as well as many other species who are living in groups, showdifferent types of conciliatory behaviour. Resolving conflicts that threaten the interactionbetween individuals in a group is necessary for survival and hence has a strong evolutionaryvalue. These findings contradicted previous existing theories about the general function ofaggression, i.e. creating space between individuals (first proposed by Konrad Lorenz), whichseems to be more the case in conflicts between groups than it is within groups.In addition to research in primates, biologists are beginning to explore reconciliation in otheranimals. Until recently, the literature dealing with reconciliation in non-primates haveconsisted of anecdotal observations and very little quantitative data. Although peaceful post-conflict behavior had been documented going back to the 1960s, it wasn’t until 1993 thatRowell made the first explicit mention of reconciliation in feral sheep. Reconciliation has
since been documented in spotted hyenas, lions, dolphins, dwarf mongoose, domesticgoats, and domestic dogs.Conflict resolution is an expanding field of professional practice, both in the U.S. and aroundthe world. The escalating costs of conflict have increased use of third parties who may serveas a conflict specialists to resolve conflicts. In fact relief and development organizations haveadded peace-building specialists to their teams. Many of the major international non-governmental organizations have seen a growing need to hire practitioners trained in conflictanalysis and resolution. Furthermore, this expansion of the field has resulted in the need forconflict resolution practitioners to work in a variety of settings such as in businesses, courtsystems, government agencies nonprofit organizations, government agencies and educationalinstitutions serving throughout the world.EducationUniversities worldwide offer programs of study pertaining to conflict research, analysis, andpractice. The Cornell University ILR School houses the Scheinman Institute on ConflictResolution, which offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional training on conflictresolution. Eastern Mennonite Universitys Center for Justice and Peacebuilding offers aBA and MA with a focus on practical applications in conflict-affected communities andregions. Additional graduate programs are offered at Georgetown University, and TrinityCollege Dublin. George Mason University’s Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolutionoffers undergraduate, certificate and masters programs in Conflict Analysis and Resolutionand a Ph.D. program in The Philosophy in Conflict and Conflict Resolution. NovaSoutheastern University offers a Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis & Resolution which trainsstudents in the skills and techniques of practice, interdisciplinary research, policy andprogram development, historical critique, cultural analysis, and theoretical foundations of thefield. It is offered in both online and on-campus formats. Many students completing a doctoral program enter the field as researchers, theorists,analysts, policy makers and professors in higher education.Furthermore, the Pax Ludens Foundation based in the Netherlands is an organization that putstogether conflict resolution simulations set in an International Relations scenario to helpstudents learn about the intricacies of where conflict emerges in the world of internationalpolitics.Conflict resolution is a growing area of interest in UK pedagogy, with teachers and studentsboth encouraged to learn about mechanisms that lead to aggressive action, and those that leadto peaceful resolution.Tel Aviv University offers two graduate degree programs in the field of conflict resolution,including the English-language International Program in Conflict Resolution and Mediation,affording students to learn in a region which is the subject of much research on internationalconflict resolution.Conflict management
This section needs additional citations for verification. (July 2007)Conflict management refers to the long-term management of intractable conflicts. It is thelabel for the variety of ways by which people handle grievances—standing up for what theyconsider to be right and against what they consider to be wrong. Those ways include suchdiverse phenomena as gossip, ridicule, lynching, terrorism, warfare, feuding, genocide, law,mediation, and avoidance. Which forms of conflict management will be used inany given situation can be somewhat predicted and explained by the social structure—orsocial geometry—of the case.Conflict management is often considered to be distinct from conflict resolution. In order foractual conflict to occur, there should be an expression of exclusive patterns, and tell why theconflict was expressed the way it was. Conflict is not just about simple inaptness, but is oftenconnected to a previous issue. The latter refers to resolving the dispute to the approval of oneor both parties, whereas the former concerns an ongoing process that may never have aresolution. Neither is it considered the same as conflict transformation, which seeks toreframe the positions of the conflict parties.CounselingWhen personal conflict leads to frustration and loss of efficiency, counseling may prove to bea helpful antidote. Although few organizations can afford the luxury of having professionalcounselors on the staff, given some training, managers may be able to perform this function.Nondirective counseling, or "listening with understanding", is little more than being a goodlistener—something every manager should be.Sometimes the simple process of being able to vent ones feelings—that is, to express them toa concerned and understanding listener, is enough to relieve frustration and make it possiblefor the frustrated individual to advance to a problem-solving frame of mind, better able tocope with a personal difficulty that is affecting his work adversely. The nondirectiveapproach is one effective way for managers to deal with frustrated subordinates andcoworkers.There are other more direct and more diagnostic ways that might be used in appropriatecircumstances. The great strength of the nondirective approach (nondirective counseling isbased on the client-centered therapy of Carl Rogers), however, lies in its simplicity, itseffectiveness, and the fact that it deliberately avoids the manager-counselors diagnosing andinterpreting emotional problems, which would call for special psychological training.Listening to staff with sympathy and understanding is unlikely to escalate the problem, and isa widely used approach for helping people to cope with problems that interfere with theireffectiveness in their place of work.