Resolving conflict rationally and effectively
In many cases, conflict in the workplace just seems to be a fact of life.
The fact that conflict exists, however, is not necessarily a bad thing:
The good news is that by resolving conflict successfully, you can solve many of the problems that it has brought to the surface, as well as getting benefits that you might not at first expect:
• Increased understanding: The discussion needed to resolve conflict expands people's awareness of the situation, giving them an insight into how they can achieve their own goals without undermining those of other people.
• Increased group cohesion: When conflict is resolved effectively, team members can develop stronger mutual respect, and a renewed faith in their ability to work together.
• Improved self-knowledge: Conflict pushes individuals to examine their goals in close detail , helping them understand the things that are most important to them, sharpening their focus, and enhancing their effectiveness.
However, if conflict is not handled effectively, the results can be damaging. Conflicting goals can quickly turn into personal dislike.
Understanding the Theory: Conflict Styles
In the 1970s Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann identified five main styles of dealing with conflict that vary in their degrees of cooperativeness and assertiveness. They argued that people typically have a preferred conflict resolution style. They developed the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) which helps you to identify which style you tend towards when conflict arises.
Thomas and Kilmann's styles are:
Competitive: People who tend towards a competitive style take a firm stand, and know what they want
Collaborative: People tending towards a collaborative style try to meet the needs of all people involved
Compromising: People who prefer a compromising style try to find a solution that will at least partially satisfy everyone. Everyone is expected to...