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Understanding and Resolving
Conflict
Mark Smallwood
Brigham Young University
Agenda
• What is conflict?
• What is conflict’s role in business?
• Different views of conflict
• Kinds of conflict
• Stag...
What is Conflict?
A process that begins when one party
perceives that another party has negatively
affected, or is about t...
A Few Questions
• Is conflict bad for business?
• What kind of conflict is seen in our
business?
• Does this conflict help...
Conflicts About Conflict’s Role
• Different Views
– Traditional View
– Human Relations View
– Interactionist View
Different Views
• Traditional View
– Conflict is bad!
– Same as violence, destruction, irrationality
Different Views
• Human Relations View
– It’s going to happen, so cope with it!
Different Views
• Interactionist View
– Functional conflict is good for business and
even encouraged
– Functional vs. dysf...
Kinds of Conflict
• Task Conflict
– Low to moderate levels can be acceptable
• Process Conflict
– Low levels can be accept...
The Conflict Process
• Four Stages
– Potential opposition
– Cognition and personalization
– Behavior
– Outcomes
The Conflict Process
• Stage 1
– Potential Opposition
• Factors are present that can lead to conflict
– Communication
– St...
The Conflict Process
• Stage 2
– Cognition and Personalization
• Awareness of conditions in stage 1
• The conditions cause...
The Conflict Process
• Stage 3
– Behavior
• An action is done that frustrates another person’s
interests
• The conflict be...
The Conflict Process
• Stage 4
– Outcomes
• Functional Outcomes
• Dysfunctional Outcomes
Conflict Resolution
• Even in the interactionist view of conflict,
conflict can become dysfunctional.
• At this point, som...
Methods for Resolving Conflict
• Passive conflict resolution
• Win-win
• Structured problem solving
• Confronting conflict...
Methods for Resolving Conflict
• Passive conflict resolution
– Just ignore the conflict
• Win-win
– Satisfy both side’s ne...
Methods for Resolving Conflict
• Structured problem solving
– Gather data about the problem
– Have a third party observer ...
Methods for Resolving Conflict
• Choosing a winner
– Choose the winner, then deal with the negative
feelings between the t...
Methods for Resolving Conflict
• Preventing conflict
– “Skilled leaders use different techniques to
create an environment ...
Shea & Gould Law Firm
• “At its peak, the firm had 350 lawyers and
played a leading role in New York politics,
banking, re...
Let’s Try These Out!
• Split up in groups of three people
• Choose a conflict that could be faced in this
organization
• D...
Let’s Try These Out!
• Describe your conflict
• What method would be best for handling
your chosen situation?
• Would that...
Summary
• Conflict can be good for a business
• When it isn’t good, the conflict must be
resolved
• Different methods exis...
Bibliography
Bacal, Robert. “Organizational Conflict - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.”
http://conflict911.com/conflictartic...
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  1. 1. Understanding and Resolving Conflict Mark Smallwood Brigham Young University
  2. 2. Agenda • What is conflict? • What is conflict’s role in business? • Different views of conflict • Kinds of conflict • Stages of conflict resolution • Methods of conflict resolution • Group Exercise • Review
  3. 3. What is Conflict? A process that begins when one party perceives that another party has negatively affected, or is about to negatively affect, something that the first party cares about.
  4. 4. A Few Questions • Is conflict bad for business? • What kind of conflict is seen in our business? • Does this conflict help or hurt our performance?
  5. 5. Conflicts About Conflict’s Role • Different Views – Traditional View – Human Relations View – Interactionist View
  6. 6. Different Views • Traditional View – Conflict is bad! – Same as violence, destruction, irrationality
  7. 7. Different Views • Human Relations View – It’s going to happen, so cope with it!
  8. 8. Different Views • Interactionist View – Functional conflict is good for business and even encouraged – Functional vs. dysfunctional conflict
  9. 9. Kinds of Conflict • Task Conflict – Low to moderate levels can be acceptable • Process Conflict – Low levels can be acceptable • Relationship Conflict – Almost always dysfunctional
  10. 10. The Conflict Process • Four Stages – Potential opposition – Cognition and personalization – Behavior – Outcomes
  11. 11. The Conflict Process • Stage 1 – Potential Opposition • Factors are present that can lead to conflict – Communication – Structure – Personal Variables
  12. 12. The Conflict Process • Stage 2 – Cognition and Personalization • Awareness of conditions in stage 1 • The conditions cause some sort of frustration
  13. 13. The Conflict Process • Stage 3 – Behavior • An action is done that frustrates another person’s interests • The conflict becomes known to the differing parties and to others
  14. 14. The Conflict Process • Stage 4 – Outcomes • Functional Outcomes • Dysfunctional Outcomes
  15. 15. Conflict Resolution • Even in the interactionist view of conflict, conflict can become dysfunctional. • At this point, someone may need to step in and help resolve the conflict.
  16. 16. Methods for Resolving Conflict • Passive conflict resolution • Win-win • Structured problem solving • Confronting conflict • Choosing a winner • Selecting a better alternative • Preventing Conflict
  17. 17. Methods for Resolving Conflict • Passive conflict resolution – Just ignore the conflict • Win-win – Satisfy both side’s needs
  18. 18. Methods for Resolving Conflict • Structured problem solving – Gather data about the problem – Have a third party observer analyze the data and make an argument for one side – Mediation • Confronting conflict – Listen the problem and help the parties resolve it
  19. 19. Methods for Resolving Conflict • Choosing a winner – Choose the winner, then deal with the negative feelings between the two parties • Selecting a better alternative – Choose an idea neither of the parties considered
  20. 20. Methods for Resolving Conflict • Preventing conflict – “Skilled leaders use different techniques to create an environment that is relatively free of conflict…” (Foster)
  21. 21. Shea & Gould Law Firm • “At its peak, the firm had 350 lawyers and played a leading role in New York politics, banking, real estate and sports” • Closed its doors after not being able to resolve a conflict about the firms future
  22. 22. Let’s Try These Out! • Split up in groups of three people • Choose a conflict that could be faced in this organization • Discuss how it would be handled using each of the methods listed previously
  23. 23. Let’s Try These Out! • Describe your conflict • What method would be best for handling your chosen situation? • Would that method be best for all situations in this organization? • What does everyone else think?
  24. 24. Summary • Conflict can be good for a business • When it isn’t good, the conflict must be resolved • Different methods exist to resolve conflict • No one method is best for any conflict
  25. 25. Bibliography Bacal, Robert. “Organizational Conflict - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.” http://conflict911.com/conflictarticles/orgconflict.htm. Foster, S. Thomas. Managing Quality: An Integrative Approach. 2nd ed., Pearson Education, Inc., 2004. pp. 325-329. Geyelin, Milo, Felsenthal, Edward. “Irreconcilable differences force Shea & Gould closure”. Wall Street Journal. (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: Jan 31, 1994. pg. B1. Robbins, Steven P. Essentials of Organizational Behavior. 8th ed., Pearson Education, Inc., 2005. pp. 193-201. Thomas, K.W. “Conflict and Negotiation Processes in Organizations,” in M.D. Dunnette and L.M. Hough, Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 2nd ed., vol. 3, pp. 651-717. Thomas, K.W., and R.H. Kilmann. Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. Sterling Forest, NY: Xicom, Inc., 1974.

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