Essay on Conflict Resolution
Conflict arises when one or more participants view the current system as unacceptable. And at least one party try’s to voice their opinion in order to improve the situation. This can also be viewed as a process we put ourselves in order to achieve ideal conditions. The first thing one should realize is, conflict is a part of life and the best thing anybody can do is to deal with it in a positive manner. Conflict can be derived through various reasons for example, person’s perspective, interest, belief system, or values. Because of globalization the work force is becoming more and more diverse, which in turn means more conflict. This is a not a bad thing it just means that a more effective team leaders and managers are required.
Through conflict we have opportunities to define ourselves better and allow us to do things differently in the future. Through resolution of conflict we can evolve and redefine ourselves, our relationships our community and our society. It is no coincidence that we find ourselves in conflict with those we spend the most time with, e.g. families, friends, associates etc. There are great benefits, just as long as we can constructively resolve conflict with those around us.
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In some teams the choice facing many members does not center upon a choice between the team and the self interested. The members must agree some course of action. This is particularly true when the decisions facing the team are complex. Team members who among alternatives acknowledge that conflict exists, but agree to accept the outcome of the vote. The key issue becomes how to develop and utilize a suitable voting scheme.
There are several kinds of voting rules and different rules are used in different situations. The objective of voting rules can be to find the alternative that the greatest number of team members prefer, the alternative the fewest members object to or the choice that maximizes team welfare. Anything short of unanimity indicates disagreement or conflict within the team. In many cases, conflict will be reduced or eliminated following the conclusion of voting.
Voting does not guarantee conflict resolution. Members may not agree on method of voting. Some members may insist on unanimity, others on simple majority and still others on a weighted majority rule. Even if a voting method is agreed on, it my not yield a decision or may not yield a dingle decision. Finally, because voting does not eliminate conflicts of interests, but rather provides a way fro members to live with conflict, such decisions may not be stable. In this sense voting masks disagreements within teams, potentially threaten long-term group and organizational effectiveness.
The most common voting procedure is majority rule. However, it presents several problems in the attainment of consensus. Despite it democratic appeal, majority rule does not reflect the strength of individual preferences. The vote of a person who strongly supports the issue, counts the same as the individual who is virtually indifferent. Consequently, majority rule does not promote creative tradeoffs among issues. One of the most successful keys to conflict management is the ability to make tradeoffs between issues under discussion. When teams discuss only one issue at a time and vote on outcomes under consideration, this results in less profitable outcomes than when teams discuss issues simultaneously and seek consensus.
Unanimous decision-making is time consuming, it encourages team members to consider creative alternative to expend the size of the pie and satisfy the interest of all members. Unanimous rule can also present a problem. When an individual refuses to compromise he or she can force decisions on the entire group.
Negotiation is necessary when no one can dictate a solution. Team members must agree for any decision to be binding. Conflicts can become very costly and time consuming if not worked out with in a short amount of time.
The strategy of multiple offers can be effective with the most uncooperative of negotiators. This strategy involves presenting the other party with at least two proposals of equal value to you. The other party is asked to indicate which to the proposals they prefer. This should reveal information about how the other side values trade offs between different components of the negotiations. There are psychological benefits as well; when people believe they have more choices, they are more inclined to cooperate.
Many people make the mistake of relying solely on intuition. This mistake leads to faulty assumptions about what other people want. People are not very good at reading others’ emotion in mixed-motive situations. In fact, intuition is almost completely unrelated to how well people actually do in negotiations. For example, the happy/unhappy theory: “If the other party is happy, then I probably did not do so well; if the other party is disappointed, then I probably did pretty well.”
After defining what a conflict is and also determining what type of conflict the situation is, the last step in this process is resolving the situation. Conflict will always arise in life but the main idea that people have to understand is how people handle the situation. People may use the right way of solving a conflict or they might use the wrong approach to solving a conflict. Some of the points that you might not want to do when conflict occurs are timing, personalizing, brown bagging, and not listening.
The first point is timing. People should pick the right time to have an argument. It wouldn’t be good to have an argument late at night, during another’s favorite television show, after several drinks or before someone has to leave for work. If you think about this, it seems good because all of these ideas would just make people argue even more and nothing would get resolved. If there is a problem, and then people should set some time away where there would be no distractions and resolve the conflict.
Personalizing is a main key people do in conflicts because it shifts the issue to the other’s personality. Instead of dealing with the problem at hand, people try to think of ways to get out of talking about the situation or even as far as hurting the other person by talking about the others’ life.
The term brown bagging is a major key in conflict because people try to list as many things wrong as they can think of in as much detail they can. People do not limit themselves to the present because they will bring up things that already happened in the past that they have not gotten over.
One of the last key points is listening. Many people who have conflict, some of the people do not want to listen to what the other person has to say. This is a main issue because if nobody listens to one another, then the conflict will never be resolved. The people will be stuck in their ways and nobody will win in the situation.
When it really comes down to resolving a conflict, the main things you need to know are what you want out of the situation. There is a difference between what you want and what you need to resolve the conflict. Emotions make us do things that might make it harder to resolve the conflict or prolong it. People should concentrate on the pros and cons of the conflict and what they will gain by winning the conflict or losing. There should be a medium ground where people could come to an agreement where both people are happy. Some methods that people use are by forcing the issue. People are successful when they get what they want by using force on them but it mostly at the expense of the other person. Most people who use this quality are usually aggressive.
Another key that people do is withdrawal. Conflict is resolved when one person attempts to satisfy the concerns of the other by neglecting his or her own interests. In doing this, the conflict is resolved for the time being but might arise later on. People who withdraw from conflicts usually tend to be more on the passive side.
The last key to solving conflict is compromise. Compromise is when two or more people have an approach in which partial satisfaction is sought for both parties through a middle ground position that reflects mutual sacrifice. Basically, two people are giving up something that they feel strongly about to reach a decision that the two people will be happy with. This trait is one of the main ideas because when you see that people are trying to reach an end result that people will agree on, it is showing that people are going to make sacrifices for the good of the conflict. Establishing a compromised conflict, one or the other person might not be happy but the people will be able to get past that and make something better out of that situation.
In conclusion, there will always be conflict in life and in the work place. Conflict is a breakdown in the decision making process where an alternative cannot be chosen. The main issue is how we deal with conflict in an appropriate manner. There are many people that sometimes do not always take the right path in resolving a conflict. The main idea in resolving a conflict is to come up with the best plan of action that other people will agree on. Conflict resolution will benefit people because it helps people come to a conclusion that both sides will be comfortable with.
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Identifying conflict in our lives and overcoming it can be highly beneficial to our happiness and well being. There are many different areas of conflict that we encounter throughout the course of an average day. We might experience conflict with our friends and family members or we may see conflict situations arise in our work environment. At work, the conflict may be in a small group or it may be a conflict issue with the company as a whole. Often times, our areas of conflict might overlap and we allow personal issues to influence our work environment and vice-versa. Once we have identified our areas of conflict, it becomes vital that we challenge them and are able to overcome them in a constructive way.
Usually within a company, there is an inner-circle or small group of people that we work with day in and day out. These individuals might become our closest friends and most trusted confidants, as we depend on them to help and assist us throughout the day. It is always nice having someone supporting you in your work duties. When there is a rather challenging task at hand, it helps to have the support of our co-workers. When an individual has little or no conflicts with their peers and co-workers, everyone benefits, the individual, the group, and the company. The company will benefit thanks to the employees being happy in their jobs and generating a more productive atmosphere for everyone. But what if a conflict situation arises within the group? What if there are suddenly two different ways of thought on a particular issue? How can this issue be identified and, hopefully, resolved?
During a normal business meeting, two employees see a solution to a problem and feel that their way is the only way for the company to proceed. They are passionate to prove their point and they set forth on explaining to everyone their ideas. This conflict has arisen because two individuals see things differently and both are trying to present their case in the best possible way. When a conflict situation like this is discovered, it is important to identify it and see what positive actions may be taken from each individual’s ideas. Clearly list out the possible outcomes of each plan and see if there is a way to compromise and join the two ideas together into a single, beneficial result. There might very well be no way to see that both issues get resolved, but it is important that the group feels comfortable to bring up different perspectives and ideas for everyone.
If everyone went along with the norm, there might be stagnation within the group and people would not feel the desire to change anything. The company might not be able to ‘grow’ financially. If an individual feels they can contribute a new idea in a better way, it can only lead to good things. Imagine a group where two ideas were not identified and no new issues were discussed. There would not be any conflicts, but at the same time, no new, and possibly better ideas would be uncovered.
Identifying conflicts within a group is relatively easy and can be dealt with in various productive ways. However, what does someone do when they experience personal conflict with someone else? If someone is allowing personal opinions and feelings to influence their job performance, that is something which must be identified and handled immediately. Maybe an individual does not like the way someone dresses, the kind of car they drive, the kinds of hobbies they enjoy or other non-work related issues. These personal differences can become great conflicts throughout the company, if they are not identified and handled properly.
Interpersonal conflicts are probably the number one issue within society. They can influence our lives both professionally and personally. This type of conflict can be identified in all aspects that we experience. One can let a personal grudge contribute to their workspace and this type of negativity can lead to a non-beneficial work process for the entire company, if it is not properly identified.
Identifying conflict among organizations can lead to even greater disaster in the work environment. This type of conflict may sometimes influence millions of dollars and may even lead to the downfall of a company, if it is not identified. Once both sides have presented their issues, how can it be resolved? This is a question many companies must deal with.
An important source of advertising revenue might also be lost for a company, if there is a stigma of conflict attached to a company. There might not be a market for them to make money, if people have negative issues associated with a company and they have allowed these issues to blossom into media problems. The possibilities for these large issues affecting a company are endless, which is why it is important to identify conflict right away and begin to work on a positive solution.
Identifying issues can take on a wide variety of forms. Personal issues, work group related issues and even interorganizational issues are all able to be both beneficial and harmful to a company. Properly identifying them in a clarifying format is the first step. Once theses issues are identified and one can see how they impede productivity, then they may be resolved in a way that is satisfactory for everyone involved.
Most people feel uncomfortable about conflict. Some people may think that all conflict is non-productive. However, research has shown that the certain forms of conflict can stimulate thinking and viewpoints and is often an important part of the teaming process. There are two main categories of conflict, constructive and destructive. Within each category, there are four identified issues that usually cause conflict: facts or data – which is a communication problem; process or methods – a disagreement of methods; goals or purposes – disagreement of goals; values – these are the most subjective and personal disagreements, usually necessitating a professional mediator. The higher the level of conflict, the more personal it becomes and non-productive it can be (Leigh Thompson, et al. 240). Even the most innocent forms of conflict, if not checked, can quickly escalate to higher levels causing a negative impact to a team’s performance and success.
Destructive conflict; also known as Affective or A-type conflict (Leigh Thompson, et al. 218), is personal, defensive, and resentful in nature. A-type conflict causes the person to lose focus of team goals and issues while closing the mind to new ideas and opinions. It’s negative personal nature, causes emotions to run high and anger to swell leaving no room for seeing other viewpoints, open-mindedness, compromise or reconciliation. Other effects of A-type conflict may cause witnesses to the negative behavior to limit their future views, ideas, and suggestions. This will further reduce the team’s effectiveness in the future.
Productive conflict; also known as Cognitive or C-type conflict (Leigh Thompson, et al. 218), originates from differences of opinion and is largely depersonalized. If team members are educated on how to recognize and handle this type of conflict, C-type conflict can help stimulate creative thinking, causing people to think in different ways and arrive at different solutions while not being afraid to express those viewpoints and opinions to team members. To get the best result often means looking at a situation from several different points of view. Making an atmosphere that is conducive to “out of the box thinking”, and the sharing of those ideas is the problem and the answer. The key to C-type conflict is to keeping it impersonal.
Nothing good can come from A-conflict and there is much to be gained from C-type conflict. How do you discourage one and encourage the other is the question. Key factors for promoting an atmosphere where C-type conflict prospers and A-type conflict is stunted, lies with the teams understanding of conflict to begin with. Early conflict education and “smart” chartering is essential.
Key elements of any charter must include the handling of conflicts combined with early education of team members as to how to handle conflict situations. Conflict education is an effective way to reducing A-type conflict while encouraging team members to express varying viewpoints and opinions.
There are many misconceptions about conflict. The first being, conflict is abnormal. Whenever there are multiple individuals striving to solve a problem or interpret a message, or define a goal, there is going to be a difference of opinions that will lead to conflict. When people understand that conflict exists and resolution is perused, then unity can replace conflict (Leigh Thompson, et al. 239).
Another misconception is that conflicts and difference of opinions are the same. A difference of opinion is usually temporary and usually a result of misunderstandings, which can be resolved by clarification. Conflict is more severe and not as easily defined or clarified (Leigh Thompson, et al. 239).
Many people think conflict is a result of differences in personality. Personality differences themselves do not cause conflict. People with different types of personalities tend to bring different perspectives and points of views. If team members can recognize this as a positive attribute for the team, these differences can stimulate thinking and possible solutions. It is when those differences are played out through behavior and emotion that conflict can occur (Leigh Thompson, et al. 239).
Anger is often mistaken for conflict. Because conflict and emotions are involved in most conflict situations, people tent to associated all anger with conflict. However, Anger is just one type of emotion and people have a choice as which type of emotion they will use. This is where team chartering and training can have their greatest positive impact (Leigh Thompson, et al. 239).
Effective chartering can drastically reduce Affective conflict. The charter should always include operational ground rules that will dictate how the team will come to an agreement when conflict arises. It should also include rules of engagement for presenting opposite points of views, disagreements, and constructive criticisms. The charter should also recognize that emotions will be impacted and as a result the should be time reserved, on a frequent and regular interval, where team members can vent there issues before their emotions get out of hand.
Team education is also an important tool for reducing Affective conflict. Conflict education should be given when a team is formed and at periodic intervals as needed. It is always a good idea for the team to get a refresher course on conflict management when given new assignments, new members are assigned, or when any team member feels that it is appropriate.
Ideally, the only conflict in a team/group would be constructive conflict. If this were the case, there would be no need for a solution process. A well-constructed, functioning team should try to avoid destructive conflict. If it should arise anyway, and there is a good chance it will, the conflict needs to be first identified and then dealt with before total destruction occurs.
To identify a conflict you first determine whether it is an individual, intergroup, or interorganizational conflict. The solution process to be utilized is determined from this. Also, one conflict may have started a second conflict. These would have to be handled at the same time but using different solutions.
The two kinds of conflict are constructive and destructive. Constructive conflict should be encouraged as it allows growth through creative thinking. By encouraging constructive conflict, a group or team becomes more unified and productivity increases. Destructive conflict is negative and stems from a lack of agreement, which results in a division of the group or team. Constructive conflict is necessary in accomplishing team goals but negative conflict needs to be resolved or, better yet, avoided. There are many levels of conflict and the entire team/group should be aware of the signs. Of course, it is always easier to solve other people’s problems than be insightful and objective about our own.
When conflict resolution is considered necessary, there are phases (Johnson and Johnson, 1994), which can help in resolving conflict. These phases are: collect data, probe, save face, discover common interests, reinforce, negotiate, and solidify adjustments. Then there are strategies (Johnson and Johnson, 1994), which can help in resolving conflicts. A strategy that best suits the situation should be used. These strategies are: avoidance, accommodation, compromise, competition, and collaboration.
Negative conflict will always arise where people are working together. Some of these conflicts might require outside mediation. This does not necessarily mean that the team or group is doomed. People who work together every day, even if they’re not part of the conflict, may still be too close to the persons involved to objectively mediate the situation. There is a lot more to conflict resolution than reading a chapter, or even an entire book on the subject. Insight and empathy are absolutely necessary, along with a good sense of humor.
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