This new article will show you everything you need to know about how to resolve workplace conflicts.
The concept of conflict comes from the Latin word “confliktus”, which literally means “collision”. It is also interpreted as a contradiction, conflict of interest, conflict of opinion. There are many definitions of what “conflict within the organization” is, it can be defined as a dispute between two or more members or a group, caused by sharing of resources, limited work or position, goals, different values or perceptions. . Disputing parties must strive to make sure that their case or perspective matters more than anyone else’s.
Opinions about conflict in organizations have changed a lot in last few years. The traditional perception of conflict is to treat it as a dangerous process. It is believed that the occurrence of conflict is a negative signal for the organization.
Sources of conflict are mismanagement, lack of ability to make employees aware of common goals and interests that link management and line employees. According to this view, improvement in organizational management leads to its harmonious function as a unified whole.
The traditional view has changed because the causes of conflict in organizations, which are created independently of the mistakes made by managers and directors, have been identified and analyzed. The proven fact that conflict in organizations is unavoidable and even necessary, irrespective of how organizational functions are designed and managed, has been recognized.
Conflict is taken into account to arise for numerous reasons, including organizational structure, differences in goals and values. Conflict can be the fuel for organizations that drives development, enables learning and adaptive behavior, enables innovation.
Traditional approach to conflict
- Conflict can be avoided
- The reason for the conflict is the error of the manager in designing and managing the organization or it’s caused by the instigators
- Conflict distracts your organization and prevents you from achieving optimum efficiency
- Management’s job is to eliminate conflict
A modern approach to conflict
- Conflict is inevitable.
- Conflicts arise for many reasons, including organizational structure, inevitable differences in values, and employee perceptions.
- Conflict contributes to or harms organizational effectiveness to varying degrees
- Conflict can drive growth, science, and innovation
- Organizational effectiveness requires a moderate level of conflict
- Management’s job is to manage conflict and resolve it in a way that leads to optimal organizational effectiveness.
Where does conflict in organizations come from?
Conflicts are normally caused by certain causes that have the potential to become a source of conflict. Some of these causes are as a result of the way organizations are organized and designed, others relate to individuals or groups. The main sources of conflict are:
- the need to share limited resources,
- goal difference,
- interdependence of work in the organization,
- differences in values or opinions,
- other sources, such as personal dynamics.
Often each department, cell in the organization has different goals, points of view, so it’s not all the time possible to reconcile all of them with one another. Such variety often creates conflicts of interest or priorities, even if there’s agreement on the overall goals of the organization.
It exists when two or more departments rely on each other in the performance of their tasks. In such cases, there’s considerable potential for conflict or cooperation, as it should be.
Sometimes conflicts arise when there are too many tasks assigned to all groups. This will create tension between the various group members who may accuse one another of avoiding their duties.
Conflicts can even arise if work is split equally but wages for work are different. The greatest potential for conflict is where one department cannot start work until a task is completed by another.
Conflicts can arise because basic resources are limited. When each group competes for the biggest share of available resources, conflict or loss of cooperation can arise.
Differences in values or views
The different goals of members of various departments, cells are often accompanied by different bases, values or views, which can even lead to conflict.
This situation consists of a clash of personalities. When people don’t trust the intentions of a conflicted partner, don’t like one another or for some other reason cannot find a common language.
How does the conflict process work?
Each conflict takes place in a certain cycle. It can be divided into several stages:
Stage #1 – “something went wrong”
This is the stage of feeling that the relationship is not what it was before, a period of minor tension, during which symptoms of bad mood may coexist. In this phase, behaviors that have been described as conflict detectors emerge.
Stage #2 – mutual hostility
This is a phase of recriminations, negative comments and evaluations, a rise in the number and intensity of detectors used.
Stage #3 – peak
Time to let off steam, leading to a robust fight. This is a comparatively short phase, very far from common sense. Due to strong emotions, particularly hatred, hostility, regret, aggression often occurs.
At this stage, none of the arguments reach the conflicting parties. Such a state of intense emotional tension cannot last long, it is extremely difficult to bear and unnatural.
Stage #4 – silencing
If the parties are communicating with one another, you can move on to trying to weigh the issue in a calm manner, separating emotions from facts.
Stage #5 – understanding
This stage allows the confrontation of positions and consideration of common interests, which makes it possible to work together.
Also lots of stuff like that, where the “final break” happens in the climax phase. It is therefore important to develop a readiness for dialogue, which provides a chance to find solutions.
Not every conflict is arranged schematically, often the stages are interconnected, sometimes the conflict is so violent that it’s impossible to distinguish successive stages.
There are also many conflicts where communication has been cut off at its peak and continuation is feasible through legal disputes.
How to Overcome Conflict in the Workplace:
The best way to resolve conflict is to use a “win-win” strategy (1). A “win-win” strategy is based on finding solutions that are good or acceptable to all parties. This method provides a chance to find the best creative solution to the conflict. This is the way to do it:
1. Recognize the conflict and name it
This is the first and decisive stage and the conflict that we are going to resolve together must be clearly defined. Your unfulfilled feelings or desires should be expressed. These statements are in the first person “I”.
Avoid sentences that embarrass other people or make them less valuable. It should be clear that your desire is for them to join you to find a solution that will meet all your needs and finding a solution that will not overpower you.
2. Find possible solutions
The key to this stage is the big number of possible solutions. It should be proposed to reflect together. Do not evaluate any idea, don’t judge and don’t express waiver at this stage, don’t indicate that any of the proposals is unacceptable, we accept different proposals so long as there are not any ideas.
3. Critically evaluate solution proposals
In this phase we evaluate the proposed solutions and need to state precisely what we feel, for example: “I would not like it” or “it would not meet my needs”. This stage should lead to the choice of a solution that suits both parties.
4. Choose the best solution
Then choose the best solution – consider further proposals with regard to feelings, which we check by asking whether you agree with this solution. If the solution consists of several points, write them down so they aren’t forgotten. Make sure you understand what responsibilities are assigned to you.
5. Execute decisions
The next step is implementing and enforcing the decisions taken. Once a solution has been adopted, it remains to define the details, to determine who will do what and when.
6. Critical assessment
Not all solutions turn out to be good in practice. After some time we may ask for example Are you still pleased with our agreement?”, “Are you still in agreement with the decision you made? . Sometimes it is critical to change obligations after checking them in practice.
This method requires the cooperation of all parties involved in solving the problem. The prerequisites for achievement are good interpersonal communication, active listening, and communication about one’s own needs and experiences.
Not all non-violent conflict resolution efforts require these six steps. Still, it is worth remembering the six-step approach.
What else can be done to resolve the conflict in a positive way?
For a positive conflict resolution, it is advisable to apply the following rules of conduct:
- Try to analyze the partner’s perspective, look at the problem from his perspective
- Keep the exchange of views focused on the problem and not on defense or attack
- Do not use dirty tricks, that’s, don’t refer to the immutable and independent features of the person.
- Show your emotions and feelings, both positive and negative.
- Remember about your partner’s positive traits and good cooperation during this time
- If there’s intense emotional tension, postpone the conversation for a set amount of time.
- Remember about your own participation in the conflict, a situation when the guilty party is lying is nearly impossible.
- Realize that disagreements are as a result of disagreements and not because of your partner’s bad intentions.
How to avoid bad conflict and stimulate creative conflict?
To avoid dangerous and destructive conflicts in organizations:
- Set group goals above individual goals
- Establish clear operating procedures and rules
- Improve your company’s information channels
- Develop conflict resolution procedures
If you wish, take advantage of the conflict and stimulate creative conflict (2) in your organization:
- Support positive competition between teams.
- Introduce new people to your team with new values.
- Changing the structure, procedures and rules of joint action, through consultation and agreement with the person concerned.
- Encourage what you present your views and concepts.
Conflict in the organization is unavoidable and even necessary. There are many positive aspects that result from creative conflict. Conflict can increase employee motivation. Strengthen organizational innovation and drive its development. This develops creativity and encourages discussion. This creates opportunities to improve job performance by signaling and raising awareness of the need for change.
Conflict can even contribute to increasing knowledge. In addition, conflict releases repressed emotions, positively resolved conflicts restore harmony in interpersonal relationships and can even increase trust amongst its participants.
However, we must not forget about the negative consequences of the conflict. Negative conflict can weaken bonds between groups and cause disruptions in the communication process. This can cause chaos and disorganization, demoralize, create hostility and suspicion in human contact. In extreme cases it can even lead to the collapse of the organization.
Therefore, it’s worth mastering effective conflict management methods and strengthening your skills in this area in order to derive positive benefits from conflict and avoid negative consequences.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my article on how to deal with conflict at work. I actually hope that its content has been of good help to you.