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Conflict Management. Arguing -- Is usually a battlefield for a bigger issue. What is conflict?. A battle, contest or opposing forces existing between primitive desires and moral, religious or ethical ideas ( Webster’s Dictionary )

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conflict management

Conflict Management

Arguing --

Is usually a battlefield for a bigger issue.


What is conflict?

  • A battle, contest or opposing forces existing between primitive desires and moral, religious or ethical ideas ( Webster’s Dictionary)
  • A state of incompatibility of ideas between two or more parties or individuals
  • Conflict is “an expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scare resources, and interference from others in achieving their goals” (Wilmot and Hocker, 1998)
  • Conflicts exist whenever incompatible activities occur
  • Conflict management is the practice of identifying and handling conflict in a sensible, fair and efficient manner
functional and dysfunctional conflict
Functional and Dysfunctional Conflict
  • Functional conflict contributes to the achievement of the goals of the group or the organization. Functional conflict should be nurtured, if not encouraged.
  • Dysfunctional conflict impedes the organization from accomplishing its goals. Dysfunctional conflict should be reduced or removed.
philosophies of conflict management
Philosophies of Conflict Management
  • Traditional Philosophy: All conflicts are negative and potentially destructive for the organization. Conflict should be eliminated.
  • Behavioral Philosophy: Conflict is inevitable in organizations and should be accepted as a part of organizational life.
philosophies of conflict management cont
Philosophies of Conflict Management (cont.)
  • Interactionist Philosophy:
    • Conflict is essential to the survival of the organization.
    • Conflict should not only be accepted but encouraged in organizations.
    • Effective conflict management includes both stimulation and reduction of conflict.
    • Conflict management is a major responsibility of the manager.
myths or misconceptions about conflict
Myths or Misconceptions About Conflict:
  • Harmony is normal and conflict is abnormal.
  • Conflict is the result of personality differences.
  • Conflict and disagreements are the same.
causes of conflict
Causes of Conflict
  • Personal Differences
  • Informational Deficiency
  • Role Incompatibility
  • Environmental Stress
    • Scarcity
    • Uncertainty

Types of conflict

  • Inter-personal and intra-personal
  • Inter-group and intra-group
  • Competitive and Disruptive
types of conflict
Types of Conflict
  • Conflict of ideas
    • Dooley and Fryxell (1999) found that conflict of ideas at the early stage of decision making (idea formulation) was desirable.
    • That same conflict sometimes caused problems at a later stage when the ideas actually had to implemented.
  • Conflict of feelings (often called personality conflict)
types of conflict1
Types of Conflict
  • Opposition and Support

Conflict Process

Antecedent conditions

Perceived conflict

Felt Conflict

Manifest behavior

Conflict Resolution

Or Suppression

Resolution aftermath

pondy s stages
Pondy’s Stages
  • Latent conflict: There is no actual conflict; however, the potential for conflict to arise is present because of the sources of conflict previously identified.
  • Perceived conflict: Each party searches for the origins of the conflict, defines why the conflict is emerging, analyzes the events that led to its occurrence, and constructs a scenario that accounts for the problems it is experiencing with other parties.
  • Felt conflict: The parties in conflict develop negative feelings about each other.
  • Manifest conflict: One party decides how to react to or deal with the party that it sees as the source of the conflict, and both parties try to hurt each other and thwart each other’s goals.
  • Conflict aftermath: Every conflict episode leaves a conflict aftermath that affects the way both parties perceive and respond to a future conflict episode.
unresolved conflict is a vicious circle
Unresolved Conflict is a Vicious Circle
  • Relationship degenerates into a power struggle.
  • Playing games (If it weren’t for you…, Look how hard I’ve tried…,
  • Develops “ritual impasse”, stuck at the same point (refusing to talk after working so hard.
  • Destroys the problem-solving process
  • In the end, the relationship fails because neither persons needs are met.
interpersonal dynamics
Interpersonal Dynamics
  • Interpersonal dynamics – are the give and take behavior between people during human relations
  • Interpersonal dynamics grow increasingly complex as more people interact
key topics of interpersonal dynamics
Key Topics of Interpersonal Dynamics

Transactional Analysis


Conflict Management

transactional analysis ta
Transactional Analysis (TA)
  • Method for determining how people interact
  • When we interact, behavior can be:
    • passive
    • aggressive
    • assertive
      • Performance is greater with this behavior
  • TA is a method of understanding behavior in interpersonal dynamics
ta ego states
TA: Ego States
  • Major ego states that affect our behavior or the way we transact through communication:
    • Parent Ego State (P)
      • Critical parent
      • Sympathetic parent
    • Child Ego State (C)
      • Natural child
      • Adapted child
    • Adult Ego State (A)
ta types of transactions
TA: Types of Transactions
  • Within ego states there are three different types of transactions:
    • Complementary Transactions
    • Crossed Transactions
    • Ulterior Transactions
complementary transactions
Complementary Transactions
  • Occur when the sender of the message gets the intended response from the receiver
    • Generally result in more effective communication









crossed transactions
Crossed Transactions
  • Occur when the sender of a message does not get the expected response from the receiver
    • These result in surprise, disappointment, and hurt feelings for the sender of the message









ulterior transactions
Ulterior Transactions
  • Occur when the words seem to be coming from one ego state, but in reality the words or behaviors are coming from another
    • Sometimes when people don’t know what they want or how to ask for it in a direct way, they resort to ulterior transactions
    • Best to avoid ulterior transactions because they tend to waste time
ta life positions

I’m OK –

You’re OK

I’m OK –

You’re not OK

I’m not OK –

You’re OK

I’m not OK –

You’re not OK

TA:Life Positions


Attitude toward Oneself




Attitude toward Others

ta stroking
TA: Stroking
  • Stroking – any behavior that implies recognition of another’s presence
    • Positive – make people feel good about themselves
    • Negative – can hurt people in some way
  • Giving praise (positive stroking) is a powerful motivation technique
  • The process of expressing thoughts and feelings while asking for what one wants in an appropriate way
  • Present your message without falling into the traps of being:
    • “too pushy” (aggressive)
    • “not tough enough” (nonassertive-passive)
  • Is becoming more global
behaviors when dealing with a diversity of people









Behaviors when dealing with a diversity of people:
conflict style
Conflict Style
  • Not only is it important to know what relationship or situation is causing conflict in our life, but it is also important to look at how we normally resolve conflict (our natural inclination).
  • We must then decide whether we are satisfied with our current approach or if we would like to change it in some way to improve our effectiveness at conflict resolution.
style explanation
Style Explanation
  • Avoiding
  • Accommodating
  • Compromising
  • Competing
  • Collaborating

As you discovered through the conflict resolution assessment, our natural inclinations usually place us into one of these styles.

style explanation1
Style Explanation
  • Avoiding Style (-,-)
    • If I ignore the problem, it will go away
    • If I confront the problem, I may hurt someone’s feelings
    • Why bother… it won’t change anything
  • Accommodating (-,+)
    • It’s easier to just give in and give them what they want
    • You will be better liked if you just agree
    • By letting the other person win this time, you will win next time… you have to pick your battles.
style explanation2
Style Explanation
  • Compromising Style (-,-)
    • It’s only fair because then neither of us get what we want.
    • Both parties are on an even playing field
    • We can choose to give up something we really don’t need, thereby winning.
  • Competing Style (+,-)
    • I’m right and you’re wrong
    • There is only one solution
  • Collaborating (+,+)
    • We can find a solution that works for both of us.
    • By asking the other person’s perspective, I can understand them.
    • Once we find a common ground, we can work from there.
conflict style1
Conflict Style

If you find yourself adopting a conflict style that you’re not happy about…

  • Analyze why you have adopted that style.
  • Develop some simple action steps that will help you break your habit.
  • Read on for helpful tips that will guide you through various conflict situations.
roles in conflict resolution
Roles in Conflict Resolution




initiating conflict resolution
Initiating Conflict Resolution

Step 1. Plan to maintain ownership of the problem using the XYZ model

Step 2. Implement your plan persistently

Step 3. Make an agreement for change

the xyz model
The XYZ Model
  • The XYZ model describes a problem in terms of behavior, consequences, and feelings:

“When you do X (behavior),

Y (consequences) happens,

and I have Z (feelings).”

responding to conflict resolution
Responding to Conflict Resolution

Step 1. Listen to and paraphrase the problem using the XYZ model

Step 2. Agree with some aspect of the complaint

Step 3. Ask for, and / or give, alternative solutions

Step 4. Make an agreement for change

mediating conflict resolution
Mediating Conflict Resolution

Step 1. Have each party state his or her complaint using the XYZ model

Step 2. Agree on the problem(s)

Step 3. Develop alternative solutions

Step 4. Make an agreement for change and follow up

your personality and interpersonal dynamics
Your Personality and Interpersonal Dynamics
  • People with the same personality type tend to get along better and have less conflict than those with different personality types
  • If you have a high surgency personality –
    • watch your use of the critical parent ego state
    • be sure to give lots of positive strokes to help human relations
    • be careful not to use aggressive behavior to get what you want
your personality and interpersonal dynamics1
Your Personality and Interpersonal Dynamics
  • If you have a high agreeableness personality,
    • you tend to get along well with others
    • be careful not to use the sympathetic parent ego state
    • watch the appropriate use of the child ego state
  • Adjustment – is about how well you deal with your emotions
    • especially anger
your personality and interpersonal dynamics2
Your Personality and Interpersonal Dynamics
  • There is a relationship between adjustment and openness to experience
    • If you are not well adjusted, you are probably not open to experience
  • If you are a high conscientious personality, you can still transact from the parent or child ego state
determining the source of conflict
Determining the source of conflict

At times you may sense conflict at work, but

not know exactly why.

The conflict self-assessment will help you to pinpoint the specific area in which you are experiencing conflict so that you can begin to resolve it. The areas addressed are supervisor, self, peers, employees, and productivity.

do you ever use
Do you ever use…
  • Extreme or irrational tactic to gain your point (slamming doors, stomping around)?
  • Hurt remarks to have the last word (sarcasm, name calling)?
  • The Silent treatment
  • Withdraw to a safe distance because you do not like to argue?
  • Store up grudges and use later (revenge)?
  • My way or no way attitude?
  • Get angry, criticize, or some other aggressive behavior?
  • Give in; “I guess you are right”, submissive behavior to avoid conflict.
  • Deny or pretend that “everything is okay

If you answered “Yes” to any of the above you are not “fighting fair” and you are creating an interaction pattern of “I win, you lose”.

if you want to constructively resolve a conflict with another person
If you want to constructively resolve a conflict with another person…
  • FIRST, get into the right frame of mind for a positive discussion, always remembering to treat the other person with respect
  • SECOND, agree on the best time and place for both of you to discuss the conflict with each other.
  • THIRD, Set some ground rules.
  • FOURTH, have a discussion.
step 1

Step 1:

Adopt the right frame of mind

the approach
The Approach

When you are ready to approach

the other person remember to:

  • Go in with the right attitude
  • Send positive non-verbal signals
  • Focus on the real issues
  • Pay attention to communication style
your attitude
Leave Behind…

Your desire to win, punish, or control

Your desire that everything be “fair”

Your assumption that it won’t work

Your tendency to think in “black and white”, “right or wrong”

Your determination to be right.

Take With You…

A willingness to work at this

An understanding that “perception is reality” both for you and those around you.

A willingness to learn from the situation

A willingness to see and acknowledge your own contribution to the problem.

Your Attitude
be aware of your nonverbal signals
Be aware of your nonverbal signals:
  • 7 % of the words used;
  • 38% on voice quality; and
  • 55% on nonverbal communication

Others impression of you is based on:

focus on underlying issues
Focus on underlying Issues
  • What happened?
    • Difference in expectations:
      • What did I expect to happen?; What actually happened? Who did what?
    • Intention inventory (Who meant what?)
  • Feelings
    • Don’t ignore or fail to acknowledge
    • Feelings make relationships enjoyable and difficult conversations difficult (can’t have one without the other!)
  • Identity
    • Must face ourselves as well as other person
    • Am I competent?; Am I a good person?; Am I worthy of love?
communication tips
Communication Tips
  • Avoid“you” statements
  • Focus on behavior, not employee
  • Focus on actions, not intent
  • Be descriptive and specific(bring data)
  • Practice activelistening skills
  • Ask open and closed questionsto clarify points
step 2

Step 2:

Consider time factors

be timely talk to the other person while the issues are still current

Be Timely: talk to the other person while the issues are still current

Anger and negative feelings

tend to fester if not dealt with quickly!!

consider the other person s time needs
Consider the other person’s time needs
  • Don’t interrupt the other person’s schedule and state that you need to talk
  • Agree on a time to meet with the other person and inform him/her of the topic.
  • Give him/her time to prepare mentally.
step 3

Step 3:

Set some ground rules!

3 golden rules
3 “Golden” Rules
  • Everyone tells it like they see it.
  • Get everything on the table.
  • Focus on the future.
sample rules for discussion
Sample Rules for discussion
  • No interruptions
  • No yelling
  • Time limit on certain topics of discussion
  • Words to avoid
  • Agreement on what to do if you can’t agree ahead of time

In addition to general rules, it is helpful to agree on how you will talk with each other

step 4

Step 4:

The Actual Discussion

the actual conversation
The Actual Conversation
  • Define the conflict.
  • Communicate understanding.
  • Explore alternative solutions.
  • Agree on most workable solution.
  • Evaluate after time.
define the conflict
Define the Conflict
  • Describe the problem in clear, concrete terms. Be specific (use “I” not “you”)
  • Focus on behaviors or problems, not people
  • Talk about the impact on you
  • Define the conflict as a problem to solve together, not a battle to be won
2 communicate understanding
2. Communicate Understanding

Listen to really understand the other person’s feelings, needs, Reflect back.

  • Explain how you see the problem after you have heard them.
  • Identify your contribution to the situation.
  • Describe feelings (not judgments or accusations)
  • Talk about identity issues.
3 explore alternative solutions
3.Explorealternative solutions

- Take turns offering alternative solutions. List them all.

  • Be nonjudgmental of other’s ideas.
  • Examine the consequence of each solution.
  • Think and talk positively.
4 agree on most workable solution
4. Agree on most workable solution

- Agree on a solution you both understand and can live with.

  • Be committed to resolving the conflict
5 evaluate after time
5. Evaluate after time

Get together after

some time and see

how the new arrangement is

working for both parties

tips in difficult situations
Tips in difficult Situations
  • Pacing:one approximates the behavior of the other person to subconsciously build rapport.
  • “Mental Aikido”: mentally moving away from the focal point of the adversary’s attack. Make a non-linear response to the adversary’s words. “Sharks expect you to react.”
  • “Patterned interruption”:involves varying your usual response. “You have the capacity to interrupt the usual destructive pattern by doing something completely different or unexpected.”
meeting conflict

1. If you sense a spoken or unspoken conflict in a meeting over an issue, address it.

“There seems to be some disagreement over this issue. Can we take a few minutes to clarify the issue.

2. Clarify the conflict.

“O.K. so there seems to be some disagreement over…….”

  • Decide if there is time to deal with it today or if another meeting needs to be set up to give it full attention.

“Since this seems to be quite an important issue and we don’t have much time today. Let’s agree to meet again to discuss it further. Can we meet on….”


4. If another meeting is necessary, assign responsibility for gathering more information on the subject to staff.

“Sue, can you please research information on…. And Diane can you please check on that State mandate.”

  • Insist employees let it go until the next meeting.

“We have a lot of other issues to discuss today so let’s free our minds of this issue until the set meeting and move on.”

group resolution
Group Resolution
  • Restate the issue to ensure clarity.
  • Have each group member, share information gathered and give his/her opinion.
  • Make sure everything is put on the table (no unresolved feelings popping up later)
  • Brainstorm alternatives
  • Agree on best solution using team decision-making steps (see reference list at end)
  • Develop action steps.
  • Agree on follow-up session.
be aware of your own behavior
Be aware of your own behavior
  • Allowing aggressive or inappropriate conduct without taking action can foster a hostile or intimidating work environment.
  • Decision-making without employee input or participation can lead to frustrated employees who don’t feel valued as anything but “worker bees.”
  • Your staff looks to you to assist in resolving conflicts. You are better equipped to resolve conflicts if both you and your staff have had conflict resolution training.
If you are inconsistent or unpredictable, your employees will be unsure of your expectations and become frustrated.
  • Engaging in relationships with your employees that are personal or too informal may lead to misunderstandings, as well as other employees feeling alienated.
lookout for signs of discontentment
Lookout for Signs of discontentment
  • A usually outgoing, communicative employee becomes withdrawn and quiet.
  • An employee frequently comes in late for work.
  • An employee is more argumentative and erratic than usual.
  • An employee suddenly takes no interest in maintaining his or her personal appearance or hygiene.
  • An employee makes comments about violent means of dealing with, or coping with, a particular situation.
  • An employee talks about “having nothing to lose” or not caring about anything anymore.
game theory
Game Theory
  • Game theory puts people into the mixed-motive situation.
    • Covey (1990) in The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People refers to the scarcity mentality versus the abundance mentality.
      • The scarcity mentality leads us to resent the success of others.
      • The abundance mentality allows us to think of situations in which everybody can win.
conflict management1
Conflict Management
  • Blake and Mouton (1970) have proposed a scheme whereby we can try to avoid win-lose situations and, when possible, apply a win-win approach.
    • the hands-off approach, also called avoidance.
    • accommodation, is excessively person-oriented.
unilateral negotiation strategies
Unilateral negotiation strategies

They include:

  • The trusting collaboration strategy.
    • Both substance and relationship are important to the manager\
  • The open subordination strategy.
    • Substance is not important to the manager but relationship is
    • The firm competition strategy.

- Substance is important to the manager but not relationship

  • The active avoidance strategy.

- Neither substance outcome nor relationship is important to the manager.

interactive negotiation strategies
Interactive negotiation strategies
  • Trusting collaboration
  • Principled negotiation
  • Firm competition
  • Soft competition
  • Open subordination
  • Focused subordination
  • Active avoidance
  • Passive avoidance
  • Responsive avoidance
conflict management2
Conflict Management
  • Fisher, Ury, and Patton (1991) outline four principles that compose principled negotiation.
    • Separate the people from the problem.
    • Focus on interests, not positions.
    • Invent options for mutual gain.
    • Seek objective criteria.
toward conflict management practical tips
Toward Conflict Management—Practical Tips

Walker and Harris (1995) offer the following practical tips for implementing the 9,9 style. Encouraging behavior occurs when a team member:

1. Avoids feelings or perceptions that imply the other person is wrong or needs to change.

2. Communicates a desire to work together to explore a problem or seek a solution.

3. Exhibits behavior that is spontaneous and destruction-free.

toward conflict management practical tips1
Toward Conflict Management—Practical Tips

4. Identifies with another team member’s problems, shares feelings, and accepts the team member’s reaction.

5. Treats other team members with respect and trust.

6. Investigates issues rather than taking sides on them.

  • The same principles can be applied to negotiating with others outside your team, or with a supplier or customer.
toward conflict management
Toward Conflict Management
  • Tubbs, Kryska, and Cooper (1997) propose that one frequent source of conflict is the leadership struggle between superior and subordinate in decision making.
    • The Continuum of Decision-Making Behavior has been described as including four styles of decision making:
      • Tells
      • Sells
      • Consults
      • Joins