Conflict is inevitable. It affects families and friendships, neighborhoods, towns and governments, organizations, and nations. Resolving conflict can often be like a constant balancing act among the opposing needs and interests of spouses, children and siblings, town boards, citizens, governmental leaders, department heads, clients, and service personnel. Conflict can be unpleasant and stressful. It distracts people from pursuing more productive endeavors and is personally and professionally expensive. Litigation data for the 2004 fiscal year alone reports 414 filed cases involving some type of unresolved workplace conflict, 376 resolved cases, and approximately $168 million awarded (Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission [EEOC] 2005).( Haraway, D. L., & Haraway III, W. M. (2005)
Data indicate that managers spend approximately 30% to 40% of their workday dealing with some form of conflict (Thomas 2002). Conflicts can result from organizational changes, miscommunications, scarcity of resources, prejudices, and values incongruence (Wilson 2004). Nonetheless, not all conflicts are destructive. Some lead to a sharpening of critical issues and the creation of new systems and institutions that can be beneficial to an organization. In some instances, conflict leads to much needed change. Thus, the challenge is not to try to eliminate conflict but to productively manage disagreements in an effort to increase effectiveness and efficiency. Toward that goal, conflict management and resolution knowledge, skills, and abilities have become essential management tools for supervisors and managers because unmanaged conflict causes negative, unintended consequences, and it creates physical, psychological, and behavioral stress in the workplace (Haraway 2002; Resolving conflict 2000). Indeed, unmanaged conflict results in the high costs of personnel turnover, absenteeism, loss of productivity, and, in some instances, loss of life; this has caused...