Workbook conflict handling


Published on

Conflict Circle Health Oct 2012

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Workbook conflict handling

  1. 1. Conflict Resolution NHSSyllabus 2010e: © Trust Interventions Limited - Oct-12 3
  2. 2. Learning LogSection of Key learning pointsession © Trust Interventions Limited - Oct-12 3
  3. 3. Action Plan Action Priority When by?© Trust Interventions Limited - Oct-12 3
  4. 4. IntroductionConflict is an intrinsic and inevitable part of our status as human beings. We willall encounter it in some form or other in both our personal and private life. Whenwe are confronted by it there are usually two typical responses; we either tackle ithead on or we avoid it completely. Both of these methods ultimately result indifficult times that can be painful, costly and uncomfortable where the outcomeusually presents a ‘winner’ and a ‘loser’.There is another way to approach these conflicts a way in which we can reach awin/win and collaborate to a successful conclusion for both people. This sessionwill focus on bringing about an end to your conflict situations quickly, cost-effectively and with as little discomfort as possible.Billions are spent each year by organisations dealing with litigation, absenteeism,increased staff turnover and management time and resources as a directconsequence of ineffective conflict resolution.As reported by the American Arbitration Society in a recent study; thoseorganisations that have addressed this issue and put in place a strategicapproach to conflict and pursue outcomes through a more collaborative, win/winchannel of resolution are more likely to be more profitable, have greaterstakeholder confidence in the managing of the company as well as maintainingstronger relationships with customers. © Trust Interventions Limited - Oct-12 3
  5. 5. What is Conflict?We define conflict as a disagreement through which the people involved perceivea threat to their needs, interests or concerns. Through this simple statement wecan pull out four key elements of importance when we talk about conflict. Theseare:DisagreementUsually there is some level of disagreement between the people involved in theconflict. However, there may be a difference between the true disagreement andthe perceived disagreement. It is typical that conflict is surrounded by differentlevels of misunderstanding that increase the level of disagreement betweenthose involved. By managing the true areas of disagreement, we can establishfacts, which will help us solve the correct problems and manage the needs ofthose involved.People involvedThere are often differences in our opinion of who is involved in the conflict.Sometimes, people are surprised to learn they are involved in a conflict, whileother times they may be shocked to learn that they are not! On many occasions,people who are seen as part of the social system (e.g., work team, family,friendship) are influenced to participate in the dispute, whether they wouldpersonally define the situation in that way or not. In the above example, peoplevery readily "take sides" based upon current perceptions of the issues, pastissues and relationships, roles within the organisation, and other factors. Thepeople involved can become an elusive concept to define.Perceived threatPeople respond to the perceived threat, rather than the true threat, facing them.Although reality does not mirror our perceptions, peoples behaviours, feelingsand ongoing responses become modified by the evolving sense of the threat theyconfront. If we can work to understand the true threat and develop strategies tomanage it, we can resolve most conflict issues.Needs, interests or concernsAlthough we try to define ‘issues’ as tangible and substantive, often conflict tendsto be more about emotions and feelings. There are always procedural needs andpsychological needs to be addressed within the conflict, in addition to thesubstantive needs that are generally presented. The interests and concerns ofthose involved will become more important than the immediate situation. If weare to resolve conflict effectively, we must take into account the emotional needs,interests and concerns as well as focusing on the situation itself. © Trust Interventions Limited - Oct-12 3
  6. 6. Your ExperienceIn your team, consider a conflict situation that you have encountered. Write downa brief explanation of the situation below.Now write down what specifically happened in relation to each of the elementsbelow...Disagreement (true and perceived):People Involved (and not involved):Perceived threat (as opposed to truth):Needs, Interests or Concerns (emotions involved): © Trust Interventions Limited - Oct-12 3
  7. 7. How to Spot ConflictMost people respond to conflict in predictable ways. They may confront it headon, avoid it or perhaps tackle it from another angle. We can label theseapproaches as aggressive, passive and passive aggressive.In order to identify conflict, it is important that you learn to spot differences inpeople’s behaviour and how they respond to each other. You probably know howyou typically respond and it’s just as important to be able to identify how othersmight.Aggressive BehavioursPassive BehavioursPassive Aggressive BehavioursAlthough these responses are typical signs of conflict, never assume that conflicthas occurred simply when you see one of the behaviours take place. People arecomplex creatures and it is possible that there are other reasons behind theseactions. © Trust Interventions Limited - Oct-12 3
  8. 8. Why conflict can be difficult to resolveThe main reason that conflicts are so difficult to resolve is that they are predominantlyinfluenced by emotions. When emotions like anger and resentment are felt it is oftendifficult for people to behave rationally. The likelihood of the person understanding theothers point of view diminishes as their own strong emotions take over.Emotions play a role in how people make sense of their relationships, concept of power,and social status. People constantly evaluate situations and events to work out if theyare personally relevant. These understandings and appraisals are infused with variousemotions and feelings. So, emotion not only serves a side effect of conflict, but alsoframes the way in which parties understand and define their dispute.Secondly, within the context of relationships, emotions typically express peoplesagendas, desires, and goals. When people perceive that they have incompatible goalsor that others are interfering with their desires and pursuits, this elicits emotions andleads to conflict.Imagine an iceberg, a small percentage is above the iceberg and visible, while a largepart is below the water line and obscured from view. The small part represents ourbehaviour; we can see and hear it.Just below the surface is our emotions – we can neither see nor hear them, but we canoften guess how we and others are feeling by observing the behaviours. For example;when someone is smiling, we can guess they are happy, when they frown we guess theyare sad etc.If we go deeper down the iceberg we get to a place that represents the things that aremost important to us: our needs and interests. These are the things that drive ouremotions and in turn cause us to act and react the way we do when in conflict.When dealing with conflict it is tempting to overlook the emotional aspect and often weare told to treat things only from an objective point of view. This is dangerous andusually leads to failure. Our aim should be to identify that emotions play a part and lookfor methods of addressing the emotive issues. Only then can we overcome thesubstantive needs of those involved. © Trust Interventions Limited - Oct-12 3
  9. 9. Positions and InterestsAnother reason why conflict can be so hard to resolve is that people tend tofocus on positions rather than interests. The difference between the two is bothimportant and significant.A position represents a person’s perception of the solutions that will meet theirown needs, whereas an interest represents their underlying concerns. Interestslie at the bottom of the iceberg and positions are above the surface.It is often the case that although two parties have a differing position, there ismuch that they would agree on if they focused on their interests instead.In the wheelie bin debate you have the opposing POSITIONS of the locals andthe council. The locals are extremely angry that they have to pay for wheelie binsand refuse to do so. The council are sticking fast to their position and say that ifthe locals refuse to pay for their own wheelie bins, then taxes will be made oncollections. Both positions are held strongly and any debate around them seemsto be fraught with problems as no side will budge.If both parties focussed solely on their positional needs in this scenario then thelikely outcome is one of dissatisfaction on both sides. However, there is analternative and that is to focus on the INTERESTS.These are the underlying thoughts and beliefs that are held by both parties. It istypical that the thinking behind their positions is similar. However, if they onlyfocus on the positions rather than these underlying interests, the outcome is oneof impasse. Focussing on interests tends to find many and varied methods ofresolving issues.The most effective way to uncover someone’s interests, even your own, is to askquestions that are probing while expressing a degree of empathy. Here are someexamples... • What’s important to you about? • You seem concerned about...tell me more... • How would that improve the situation? • What would that do for you? • What will be different when...? © Trust Interventions Limited - Oct-12 3
  10. 10. The Stages of ConflictConflicts tend to follow certain stages and allow each conflict will be different; there arecertain distinctions you will notice if you observe closely enough. It is useful tounderstand the stages involved and even if the particular conflict you are examiningdiffers from the stages outlined, you will at least be able to identify what is emerging.This will assist you in helping the conflict to a peaceful settlement by interveningappropriately.Latent conflict – It can be argued that there is always some conflict bubbling under thesurface, particularly in the work environment. This is conflict waiting to happen. It may bethat the conflict never happens or that by spotting latent conflict early a good practitionercan manage the situation and avoid it altogether.Triggering incident - After a conflict has remained latent for some time, if theunderlying grievances or frustrations are strong enough, a "triggering event" marks theemergence or the "eruption" phase of the conflict. This event or episode may be the firstappearance of the conflict, or it may be a confrontation that erupts in the context of aprotracted, but dormant, or low-level conflict.Conflict – At this stage the issues begin to be aired. Parties start to make assumptionsbased on their positions and might label others. There will also be an element of blamebeing placed; people start to invest emotions and resources into remaining in theentrenched position and typically build alliances to strengthen their position.New Equilibrium - Even after a settlement is reached, this is by no means the end ofthe conflict. The settlement has to be implemented. If it is just a conflict between twopeople, this may not be too hard: those two people do what they agree to do, and pastproblems may be solved. However, when there are more involved it can be difficult tomaintain. Those people that resolved the conflict may need to manage carefully the egosand emotional issues of all parties. © Trust Interventions Limited - Oct-12 3
  11. 11. The Five Methods of Managing ConflictThere are five typical methods that people resort to when managing conflict. These wereidentified by two leading academics, Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann and aredefined as follows.Avoiding – This approach is so called when people ignore the conflict or withdraw fromit. It may well be the best course of action when the conflict is trivial or when the potentialdisruption outweighs intervention. As this approach rarely resolves anything, we candetermine it as a lose-lose situation.Accommodating – This approach is used in order to maintain harmonious relations,where you place another’s needs above your own. You accommodate when the issue isnot all that important to you or you are ‘building markers’ for a later issue. As you allowthe other party to get what they want, we can determine this as a lose-win situation.Forcing – This approach is so called when you use your formal authority to resolve thedispute. The method may be used when you need a quick resolution and it works wellwhen unpopular actions must be taken on important issues or when commitment byothers is not critical. We can determine this as a win–lose situation.Compromising – This approach requires each party to give up something of value andis common in dealing with interpersonal situations. It works best when there is parity inpersonal power, when it is desirable to achieve a temporary solution to a complex issue,or when time is critical. As both parties have to give up something in these scenarioswhen can determine it as a lose-lose situation.Collaborating – This is a problem-solving approach to conflict. Each party/side re-evaluates their position on issues and work together to form a joint view or solution. Itworks well when time pressures are minimal and the issue is too important tocompromise. As both parties get something out of this approach we can determine it asa win-win solution. As you can see from the graph, one side represents concern for others and the other represents concern for self. Each conflict handling mode has its advantages and disadvantages. © Trust Interventions Limited - Oct-12 3
  12. 12. Managing Conflict – ExerciseIn pairs, review each of the methods of managing conflict below. Identify whatmight be the advantages and disadvantages of each. Advantages DisadvantagesAvoidingAccommodatingForcingCompromisingCollaborating © Trust Interventions Limited - Oct-12 3
  13. 13. Resolving Conflicts You Are Involved InResolving conflict when you are involved can be difficult, uncomfortable and often souldestroying. The key to resolving these issues effectively is preparation, both in your ownmind and with the potentially difficult conversation.It is always best to approach these situations with the best intentions in mind and toensure you have the correct and compassionate attitude. There are also certain skillsinvolved that will prove important. These include: Listening, Questioning, Rapport,Reframing (saying a similar thing, but in a different, more positive, way), Empathy,Assertiveness, Self-Confidence.Aside from having the correct skills to handle conflict situations, it is also important thatwe prepare effectively and approach any discussion we are likely to have in a structuredway. By doing this, we can be sure that we take into account the likely impact of ourconversation.Our preparation need not be overly complicated and in fact a simple approach that wecan feel confident about will usually get the best results.The first thing to consider is what our objective is i.e. what we want to be different as aresult of challenging the situation. It helps to write this down. We should also considerwhere and when we will discuss the issue as this can have an impact on the responsewe are likely to receive.Once we have established that, we can look at how we will approach the actualdiscussion. © Trust Interventions Limited - Oct-12 3
  14. 14. The stages above can be explained in more detail as follows...Introduce – At this stage you need to explain in detail the issue as you see it. Youshould avoid making assumptions, being overly critical or placing blame. You should beclear and specific in your statement, whilst using simple language.Impact – At this stage you are describing the effect the situation is having on you. Ithelps to acknowledge your own feelings and it is also important to remain calm andfocused.Inform – Here you should make it clear what you would like to be different. Again, clarityis important. You should also be realistic in your request and leave room for negotiationwhile recognising that the other person has feelings and desires too.Incentivise – There has to be some value in the person changing their behaviour,attitude or approach. Ensure they see what you are stating as a benefit and offer thingsthat you know can be delivered. -------------------------------Activity: In pairs, prepare an outline response to the following situation using the model.You have been consistently asked by your boss to work late into the evening. Although itis the end of year and reports have to be completed, you have noticed that it always © Trust Interventions Limited - Oct-12 3
  15. 15. seems to be you that is selected from your team to stay late. This is causing problemswith your home life and your partner is becoming very frustrated that you never seem tobe around. You are also becoming tired and stressed with the situation.Your Objective:When/where you will be when you discuss this:IntroduceImpactInformIncentive © Trust Interventions Limited - Oct-12 3
  16. 16. Personal Conflict Situation – ExerciseConsider a conflict situation that you are currently experiencing (if you cannotthink of one, ask them to choose one from your past).As with the previous activity, you should consider your outline response to yourown personal situation using the model provided.My personal conflict situation is:My Objective:When/where I will be when I discuss this:IntroduceImpactInformIncentive © Trust Interventions Limited - Oct-12 3
  17. 17. Resolving Conflict Between OthersThe method of resolving conflict between others is not dissimilar to when you areinvolved. You still need to demonstrate the same set of skills and the conflictmanagement model also suits the purpose. However, you should be careful inyour approach to handling conflict in others as if badly handled; you can becomeembroiled in the issue.A conflict between two employees can foster many problems in the workplace.This undermines the efficiency of the employees, which will result in lostproductivity for the business. This is why such problem mush be solved asquickly as possible. Here are three simple steps to take to solve the problem:Understand the source of the problem - The first step to take is to talk to allparties involved in the conflict and try to understand what causes the conflict.You may wish to test your assumptions by approaching each with your personalobservations. Remember to keep this factual and specific. It is also important toshow empathy while highlighting your concerns. Your aim is to change thecurrent perceptions and help those involved view things from a different point ofview.Supervise dialogue between parties – Where resolution cannot be gainedwithout getting directly involved, it may be necessary to hold a meeting betweenparties. You should be there to ensure that the conversation stays focused on thematter at hand and respectful. You might have to paraphrase or sum up duringthe dialogue to ensure that it leads to a resolution. Try to follow the conflictresolution model to make this process flow. © Trust Interventions Limited - Oct-12 3
  18. 18. Take appropriate action – Where resolution can be gained, this stage is simple;you will agree steps going forward and then manage accordingly. When asolution cannot be agreed upon it may be time to escalate the issue or to findways of working around the problem. In the work environment, it is oftennecessary to bring HR into the process where things cannot be resolved.Trust Interventions LimitedHead Office:Trust Interventions LimitedHerald WayPegasus Business ParkCastle DoningtonDE74 2TZt: 0115 7142244m: 07535 622746e: © Trust Interventions Limited - Oct-12 3