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Using Conflict Management to Resolve Workplace Issues


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Title: Using Conflict Management to Resolve Workplace Issues

Using Conflict Management to Resolve Workplace
  • Carolyn M. Burrell

What is Conflict?
Websters Definition Competitive or opposing
action of incompatibles antagonistic state or
action (such as divergent ideas, interests, or

What is Conflict?
Workplace Definition A situation in which each
party seeks a position (end result) perceived to
be incompatible with the wishes of the other or

What is Conflict, cont.
each party seeks to achieve an agreed upon goal
using a means that is perceived to be
incompatible with the wishes of the other party.
Sources of Conflict
  • Data
  • Lack of information
  • Misinformation
  • Differing views of what information is relevant
  • Differing views about how data is collected
  • Strategies
  • Provide information
  • Agree on what information is relevant
  • Reach agreement on how to collect the data

Sources of Conflict
  • Interests/Goals
  • Goals, needs of parties to the dispute
  • Perceived or actual differences in hoped for
  • Psychological interests what has to be
    addressed for resolution
  • Strategies
  • Focus on interests, not positions
  • Expand options

Sources of Conflict
  • Structural
  • Unequal Control ownership or distribution of
  • Unequal power or authority (peers or supervisors)
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Time Constraints
  • Strategies
  • Reallocate ownership and control of resources
  • Establish fair, mutually acceptable
    decision-making process
  • Clearly define, change roles

Sources of Conflict
  • Value Conflicts
  • Different criteria for evaluating ideas
  • Different lifestyles, ideology and religion
  • Beliefs that tell people right from wrong
  • Strategies
  • Allow parties to agree and disagree
  • Build common loyalty
  • Bridge values
  • Turn positions into interests

Sources of Conflict
  • Relationship
  • Strong emotional reactions to each other
  • Misconceptions or stereotypes about other party
  • Poor communications/ miscommunications
  • Distrust
  • History of conflict
  • Strategies
  • Clarify perceptions
  • Improve communications-learn from the past
  • Keep your word
  • Learn from the past

Sources of Workplace Conflict
  • EEO Issues (race, national origin, age, religion,
    sex, color, disability)
  • Labor Relations
  • Performance and behavior issues, poorly-managed
  • Application of personnel policies
  • Interpersonal problems (employee/employee,
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Change downsizing, consolidation, turmoil,
    distrust, tension

Interest Based vs. Positional Negotiations
Reach Resolution Position is
to Meet Needs Articulated First
  • Win-win
  • Information flow is
  • Open
  • Shared
  • Honest
  • Active listening
  • Look for ways to cooperate
  • Polite
  • Trust
  • Win/lose
  • Information withheld/secrecy valued
  • Indirect communications
  • Cannot be negotiated
  • More adversarial
  • One way communication
  • Point fingers/blaming
  • Person thinking about what theyre going to say
    next while other person talking
  • Defensive posture/distrust

Conflict Styles and Strategies
  • Styles
  • Avoiding Conflict, what conflict?
  • Accommodating Whatever you say is okay with
  • Strategies Used
  • Denial
  • Ignoring
  • Withdrawing
  • Agreeing
  • Appeasing
  • Flattering

Conflict Styles and Strategies
  • Styles
  • Competing My way or the highway.
  • Collaborating
  • How can we solve the problem?
  • Strategies Used
  • Control
  • Outwit
  • Coerce
  • Fight
  • Gather information
  • Look for alternatives
  • Discussion and disagreement is okay.

Conflict Styles and Strategies
  • Style
  • Compromising Lets split the difference.
  • Strategies Used
  • Bargaining
  • Reducing expectations
  • Provide a little for everyone

Avoiding Conflict, what conflict?
  • When Appropriate
  • When issue is trivial
  • You are powerless or have little power, but want
    to block the other person
  • Short time and a decision is not necessary
  • Relationship is insignificant
  • When Inappropriate
  • You care about the issue
  • Negative feelings may linger (you care about the

Accommodating Whatever You Say is Okay With Me.
  • When Appropriate
  • When the issue is not important to you.
  • You realize you are wrong.
  • You want to respond to the desires of another.
  • When Inappropriate
  • When you are likely to resent the outcome later.
  • When used to gain acceptance.

Competing My Way or the Highway.
  • When Appropriate
  • An emergency is looming.
  • The issue is trivial and others dont care what
  • Youre certain youre right.
  • When Inappropriate
  • When it is important to get cooperation from
  • When the self respect of others is diminished.
  • When used to an excess.

Collaborating How Can We Solve the Problem?
  • When Appropriate
  • When both the issue and the relationship are
  • When there is a reasonable expectation of
    addressing all concerns.
  • When Inappropriate
  • Time is short.
  • The issues are not important.
  • If either person is not negotiating in good

Compromising Lets Split the Difference.
  • When Appropriate
  • When finding some solution is better than a
  • When cooperation is important but time and/or
    resources are limited.
  • When Inappropriate
  • When you cannot live with the consequences.
  • Finding the most creative solution is essential.

When is a Conflict Over?
  • Cessation vs. Resolution of the Conflict

Cessation of a Conflict Occurs When
  • A party is at a disadvantage and decides to
    withdraw, expecting to resume the conflict when
    conditions are more favorable.
  • One party is overwhelmed by the others power and
    either gives in temporarily or withdraws from the
  • One party passively accepts whatever terms the
    party demands, but has not expectations of
    complying with them.

Resolution of a Conflict Occurs When
  • The physical well-being of each party is
    maintained during negotiations and in the
    resolution reached
  • Feelings of self-worth of each party are
    maintained during the negotiation process and in
    the resolution reached.
  • Each person respects or tolerates the other party
    as a person while understanding that this does
    not imply approval of that partys morals or
  • All relevant facts and available and technical
    information are considered and used by the
    persons in reaching the resolution.
  • The resolution reached was chosen by each party
    even though other options were available.

Never Expect Anyone To Engage In A Behavior That
Serves Your Values Unless You Give That Person
Adequate Reason To Do So.