Conflict is a condition where there is opposition, disagreement and/or antagonism between two or more people. This may be due to lack of communication, differences over certain issues and/or contradiction in ideas, beliefs and thoughts. People experience tensions, cold vibes, power struggle, strife etc when conflicts arise. Conflicts at workplace can hamper the progress of your work and in turn stunts the growth of the organization. Conflicts act as barriers to healthy organizational development. Sometimes, however, how hard we try; we end up with conflicting thoughts with team members. Therefore it is necessary to manage conflicts in a way such that it has minimum impact on our lives. Unresolved conflicts can be hazardous especially at work places. They can lead to inappropriate behavior such as avoidance, inability to work in teams, verbal assaults, and overall resentment. In worst cases, some of the employees in the organization become so hostile that they eventually have to quit their work and separate from the organization.
So how do you smartly manage conflicts? The biggest word is communication. Communicate your thoughts, ideas and beliefs openly but do not expect everyone to agree with you. Hence, be open to debate, discussion and differences. You must remember that this discussion is for the betterment of the project or the job assigned to you and your team members. Hence, do not get personal and avoid animosity with the person. Another point to remember is to control your anger. Use words like ‘I understand’, ‘I somewhat agree with you’, ‘what you are saying is fine but…,’ and then put forth your point. This will make things better and will lead to a healthy discussion avoiding any scope for conflicts.
Do not try to resolve conflicts over non-personal communication modes like e-mails, answering machine messages, and notes. At times, this can worsen the condition. Communicate in person or at least over the phone.
Listen to what the other person has to say. If you can listen and respond appropriately you will bring peace and solutions to the conflict easily. For example, you have a meeting with you team members and your boss over a new product launch and you have said that winter is the perfect time to launch the product but your colleague does not think so. Give him a chance to speak and politely ask him the reasons of why he or she thinks so and what the alternate strategies are then. If you agree to his/her point accept so humbly. If you do not agree, reason out the things why you do not agree and substantiate with examples. Ask for an opinion from other team members and let the head/boss decide.
Guidelines for Successful conflict resolving
- Show respect
Success rests in accepting the other person despite difference is values, beliefs, educational experiences, ethnic backgrounds or perspectives, negotiation permits you to examine a problem from all sides, and to promote understanding and interest in the other person without necessarily agreeing to her or his viewpoint.
Taking time to listen and to ask questions makes it easier to learn more about someone’s perspectives. Considering different perspectives will increase the range and variety of possible solutions. Genuine interest in other people and in their contribution to finding solutions builds trust. Trust provides a foundation for continuing a relationship. A foundation of trust also eases future efforts to solve problems.
- Recognize and define the problem
Each person begins with a clearly identified statement of what he or she wants and/or needs. Negotiations should identify not only Individual concerns, but also mutual concerns, perceptions and interests. From this process, a common ground for agreement between the individuals is sought. Selfish issues and goals are eliminated in favour of mutually acceptable goals. Problems are examined apart from the personalities involved. Blaming the other person is appropriate and destroys the co-operative nature of negotiation.
- Seek a variety of solutions
More information about the problem may be needed before a solution can be decided upon. It may be helpful to examine other sources of information such as books, magazine articles and people who may familiar with the issue. Outside assistance may help you to overcome your own biases. Mediators can provide impartial assistance with the negotiation process.
Brainstorming is one way to gather many creative ideas rapidly. His process allows everyone to openly make suggestions without criticism. At this stage, every suggestion has value and is accepted. After all suggestions have been shared, they are reviewed determine whether they might coincide or overlap with each other. Negotiation then becomes a matter of choosing a solution to which one has an objection. Remember, personal goals should not take prioritize over shared goals.
Taking together doesn’t mean ‘giving up’ or ‘giving in’ to another demands or goals. Two or more individuals can agree that agreement exists. However, they can also agree to put aside their frustration resentment and egos in favour or working together for solution to a common problem. All negotiated work is completed consensus. A negotiated solution is reached when everyone has put up something to gain common benefits.
- Be reliable
It is important to follow through with negotiated agreements. The very work of negotiation implies a commitment toward whatever outcome has been decided. Developing a ‘plan of action’ that splits out who is going to do what, where, when and how is helpful. This plan is followed for a specified period of time, and then evaluated — the end of that time period. It may be necessary to change plans and goals along the way, depending on how well the first draft met the shared needs of the individuals involved. However, the success of any negotiated outcome depends on everyone’s cooperation and participation. Individuals become reliable and trustworthy partners as a result.
- Preserve the relationship
In general, people will try to preserve valued relationships. Negotiation is a non-adversarial approach to resolving conflict in those relationships. There are no ‘good guys,’ ‘bad guys,’ or ‘winners losers.’ Negotiation is based on equality. No one wields more power or control than another. The individual’s ideas, attitudes, values —- objectives are recognized and respected as legitimate. Solutions as mutually agreed upon.
Some Illustrative Examples
The following examples illustrate some common situations that can lead to conflict and provides suggestions for resolving.
Example 1: parent-child conflict
It’s Friday, and Rahul and his mother are arguing once again about the teenager’s weekend curfew. Mrs kumar has grown increasing distressed by her son’s continuing resistance to the 11 p.m curfew she has set. Rahul insists that this is unfair. Both become so frustrated that they storm off to separate off to separate areas of the house to avoid each other and further conflict.
Effective approach: Compromise.
Mrs kumar has retreated to her room to calm down. It is time to discuss the issue of curfew with rahul directly. She is careful to listen to rahul and to give him time, attention and respect. He can express feelings without fear that his mother will ignore or reject them. Rahul admits that he had grown frustrated by his mother’s seeming lack of respect for him, causing his anger. Mrs kumar and rahul agree to an 11.30 p.m curfew. Rahul had asked for a midnight curfew, but settles for the additional half-hour. Mother and son have found a middle-ground solution that both can live with.
Example 2: Workplace conflict
Rajesh has been late for work several times in recent weeks. He has failed to turn in several important project outlines on time without explanation or apology, annoying his employees. Until recently, Rajesh’s attendance and performance at work had been consistent, motivated, and highly productive. Rajesh’s recent behaviour has been so uncharacteristic that his employer decides to confront him, demanding a meeting the next day.
Effective approach: Consensus.
At the meeting, Rajesh explains that he has been caring for his elderly father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Attempting to maintain —- schedule at home and at work has proven difficult. Rajesh is concerned that he will lose his job. Rajesh’s employer reassures him that his job is not in jeopardy. However, alternative and more flexible scheduling must be considered to resolve family-work conflicts. A consensus is sought.
The employer values Rajesh’s training and experience, and Rajesh values his job and his employer’s understanding. Both are willing to discuss options and to try out alternatives that best serve mutual needs.
Example 3: Marital conflict
Ranjana and Narendra have the ‘perfect’ marriage, two children and a lovely home. Both work in professions that provide personal satisfaction as well as a comfortable secure income. They have ‘made it.’ And they are miserable. Work and family roles have left then with little time to spend together and have increased their areas of disagreement. Ranjana and Narendra have become focused on meeting their own needs with little regard for the needs of the other. Resentment, dissatisfaction and conflict are all they seem to share any longer.
Effective approach: Mediation.
Intimate relationships can become battlegrounds of unresolved issues. Complaints and unrealistic expectations. Ranjana and Narendra marriage is one that is stuck and in serious trouble. They are unable to step back and view their problems retionally. Both have acknowledged their inability to resolve any of the multiple problems facing them. Ranjana and Narendra decide to seek the assistance of a family mediator.
Licensed family mediators are trained to provide impartial halp is defining the problems and to assist in the problem-solving process mediators and counselors both provide additional information and resources to individuals in difficult relationships.
Mediation has proven successful in relationships that have repeated difficult-to-solve problems. Ranjana and Narendra’s marital problems are not unusual. For that reason, family mediation services are being used more often as an alternative to counseling and/or legal services.
Summary so far…
- Recognize the value of a relationship and have a mutual desire to continue it.
- Participate actively in the process.
- Show consideration and acceptance of each other’s perspectives, values, beliefs and goals.
- Separate personality from the issue involved.
- Work together to develop a solution everyone can accept.