Conflict Among Teams
October 9, 2006
Conflict Among Teams
Differences of opinion exist in every organization and in every work group. Among the many factors which influence differences of opinion are the personal philosophy and values, differing strategies, and varying sources of information. A variety of opinions are beneficial to a team, causing team members to think about new and different ideas or to change old patterns into new ones. Differences of opinion do not cause conflicts. Misunderstanding does. Misunderstanding usually arises from miscommunication, by keeping hostilities "inside," misinterpreting what someone said, not acknowledging another's right to a different opinion, or by someone saying something they did not really mean. Managing team conflicts does not mean to eliminate misunderstandings altogether, but to help team members control stress, improve communication, and apply sensible solutions to conflict.
Though a diversity of personalities is essential to high-performance teamwork, and no matter how well a team is doing, there may be team members displaying disruptive behaviors. Any behavior that shifts the team's focus, besides inhibiting the team's growth, can provoke conflict. Herbelin (2000) divides the disruptive behaviors into five distinct groups: the quiet withholder, the bully, the attention-grabber, the joker, and the pessimist. The quite withholder is the team member who refuses to participate in team discussions. This person could be a shy, reflective person, or one who has not yet grown comfortable with the team environment. A bully attempts to inflate their status at the expense of others, usually because of poor self-esteem or an ego problem. An attention grabber is always trying to impress the team with how knowledgeable and valuable he or she is. Jokers try to call attention to themselves by clowning around and mimicking others. Although they may, at times, be...
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