Saturday, 20 September 2014

5 Part 1: Conflict management - For workplace purposes

I mentioned in article 3 that I had gone to 2 workshops; one of them being the "Work readiness skills programme" that was hosted by Mr Melane. The aim of the programme is to equip us students with skills and knowledge that will help us prepare for the work place; things that are not taught in lectures or in an academic textbook.

In this article I share the concept of conflict management that was shared at the workshop: what conflict means, the different styles of handling conflict, when it is appropriate or inappropriate to use the styles, and an exciting exercise that will help us figure out which style we often use. I also share a suggested process to resolve issues, and skills for managing conflict.

P.S: This article, "Part 1", will include the styles of handling conflict and when to use them; the second part of the article, "Part 2", will have the exercise; and "Part 3" will have the suggested process of resolving issues and the skills for managing conflict.
Conflict is the one thing that we all experience in our lives; whether it is at the workplace or in our personal lives. It is inevitable. However it is important to resolve conflict for a number of reasons. For example: when conflict arises at a work place within a team that is working together for a particular project, the conflict has to be resolved so that the team can function effectively and ensure a successful project.

Ms Caroline Poole, a sociologist at SOREASO who worked in collaboration with Mr Melane at the workshop, shared the different styles of conflict.

A. The different styles of handling conflict are:
  1. Avoiding- when one does not address the conflict, postpones the issue or simply withdraws from a threatening situation
  2. Competing- when one pursues his or her own concerns at the expense of the other person
  3. Collaborating- when one attempts to work with the other person to find a solution to fully satisfy the concerns of both persons without compromising or giving something up.
  4. Compromising- when one finds a solution to a conflict that will benefit both the concerns of the parties involved, even though something has to be given up for the sake of resolving conflict.
  5. Accommodating- when one neglects his/her concerns to satisfy the concerns of the other person
Now, Ms Poole and Mr Melane did point out that there is no ONE RIGHT WAY of handling conflict. Every situation is different and thus different styles are required for different situations. Below is a summary of when to use which style:

B. When to use which style

Appropriate when:
Inappropriate when:
  • The issue is unimportant
  • Potential damages outweighs the benefits of resolving the issue
  • Time is short and a decision is not necessary
  • Others will benefit from hearing the information
  • Avoiding the issue may lead to more important issues that need to be addressed

  • The issue is unimportant and the others don’t care
  • A decision needs to be made quickly
  • An emergency comes up
  • You think you are right and being right is more important than preserving relationships

  • Cooperation from others is important
  • Self-respect for others is diminished needlessly
  • The issues and the relationship are both significant
  • Different perspectives can lead to a better solution.
  • Time is short
  • The issue is important
  • The goals of the other person are certainly wrong
  • Both goals of the individuals are dependent on each other
  • You can’t live with the consequences
  • Giving everyone what they want won’t satisfy them
  • You really don’t care about the issue
  • You are powerless and have no wish to block the other

  • You are likely to feel resentment
  • Used regularly to gain acceptance

So how are you finding it so far? "Part 2" of the article will help to establish which style we use most of the time; and to find out which styles we need to work on to ensure that we use the correct style in the correct situation.

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