Conflict in the Workplace

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Conflict is a natural life fact. It is a result of different needs, interests and perspectives of the individuals and groups. Most people think that the conflict is unusual situation and that it is always destructive. Runde and Flanagan (2007) clearly layout how destructive conflict can be prevented while fostering the kind of constructive debate a creative solutions which businesses need to thrive. When one mentions the word conflict most people associate it with negative thoughts or uncomfortable situations. However, conflict is both - a danger and an opportunity. Conflict is a part of our everyday experience. The most usual patterns we learn in the family, in the school and community as well as experiences in the work place teach us certain rules of behaviour and ways to deal with conflict. These ways are different and extreme: in some cultures it is recommended to avoid the conflict, in others it is viewed as cowardice. The various ways members of the same family or the same group deal with conflict are also quite different. There is a great difference between these ways and the way the conflicts are treated and resolved in the court. What is generally taken as an unwritten ground rule is that every conflict is resolved in a way that one side wins and the other loses. In the beginning it is hard to imagine cooperative conflict resolution, where there are no winners and losers but where all sides win. We teach young people from the very first moment of their birth that conflicts are mostly resolved by authorities: parents, teachers, leaders of the street gang, or by a judge, policeman, boss, director, president. If there is none to intervene the "stronger" will win and the "weaker" will lose. Likewise, Malhotra and Bazerman (2007) suggest that the desire to ‘‘win” can lead disputants to pursue costly litigation even when a less antagonistic strategy would lead to better outcomes. Young people should be encouraged to seek a conflict resolution by themselves.

A prepared teacher is ready to spend the day with students. A prepared teacher knows that some of the day with students will include student-student conflict. My first experience as a high school teacher was one of my most challenging experiences ever. At first, I thought it would be a piece of cake to handle. Instead, it was an embarrassing and frustrating experience.

What went wrong? I could not get the students to pay attention. I became increasingly nervous, and spoke faster and faster. Soon I was just hoping the class would end. After that horrible experience, I was extremely depressed and doubted whether I could continue. I thought of giving up; but I put those thoughts aside after I realized that I would be abandoning my students.

Besides, my pride would not allow me to let these kids get the best of me. Inspired by memories of my father’s favorite saying – where there is a will, there is a way – I decided to give it one more try and do my best to finish the job. As soon as I made this decision, I tried to figure out why my first attempt had failed. I remembered that during my childhood, I had been very impressed by one of my teachers. My admiration grew after I learned that she had received full marks in the conservatory music entrance exam. Because I respected her from the very beginning, she had my full attention during class.

Then I looked back at the approach I had taken when trying to connect with my students. At the very beginning, I had talked about my favorite cartoons; I had even imitated one character. Because of this, the students saw me as a friend; not as their teacher. I also realized that I needed a creative approach to grab their attention. Some of my classmates gave me a few suggestions, and one of the most helpful ones was to have the most talkative student sing a song in front of the entire class.

During the second class, I improved on the way I introduced myself: I highlighted my strengths by explaining that I had...
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