WHAT IS CONFLICT MANAGEMENT?
Conflict occurs when two or more people do not agree on an issue or course of action. Conflict is unavoidable in the workplace and is often valuable in contributing to the formation of high- performing groups. Not all conflict is bad. When conflicts are properly managed, positive learning experiences may result as it increases the groups' willingness or ability to ask questions and challenge the status quo. Conflict management seeks to limit the negative aspects and increase the positive aspects of conflict by implementing certain strategies. It aims to enhance learning and group outcomes. Managers play a crucial role in identifying and managing workplace disputes at an early stage. To this end, managers can be both the solution to, and the cause of workplace disagreements. Management style of managers could contribute to stress within their team or department. The key thing to remember is that the conflict itself is not the problem, but poor management of conflict may result in even bigger problems down the line.
How to Manage Conflict for High Performance
Before we can manage conflict, we must manage ourselves. In the face of conflict, our natural reaction is either fight, flight or freeze. We can overcome this fear by mastering our emotions and our focus. Human beings exist in one of many ‘states’. A state is a combination of feelings, thoughts, physiology, and behavior, and it largely determines how we act. We can change a ‘state’ from negative to positive, from fear to courage, and do what is counterintuitive: go towards the person with whom we are in conflict A key tactic for doing this is to manage our focus in the mind’s eye, one of the brain’s most powerful mechanisms. It forms the way we view a particular situation and determines how we will act or react. Most of us have heard about how successful athletes improve performance by visualizing winning and never losing sight of their goal. Another example is the way some executives improve their public speaking skills by imagining themselves captivating their audience. All high performers use their mind’s eye to focus on the benefits beyond the fear, the danger or potential pain. The mind’s eye is a fundamental tool to create a positive or negative result in managing conflict. Our mind’s eye is shaped by experiences and choice, which determine the way we view the world and, ultimately, determine success or failure in dealing with conflict. Many leaders in conflict situations are ‘hostages’ to their inner fears and other negative emotions and fail to see the opportunities in resolving them. Six essential skills for managing conflict effectively
1. Create and maintain a bond, even with your ‘adversary’
The key to defusing conflict is to form a bond, or to re-bond, with the other party. We do not have to like someone to form a bond with him or her. We only need a common goal. Treat the person as a friend, not an enemy, and base the relationship on mutual respect, positive regard and co-operation. Leaders must learn to separate the person from the problem, genuinely want to help the other party and avoid negative responses to attacks or intense emotions.
2. Establish a dialogue and negotiate
At all times it’s important to keep the conversation relevant, stay focused on a positive outcome and remain aware of the common goal. It is imperative to avoid being hostile or aggressive. The next stage is negotiation, in which we add bargaining to the dialogue. Talking, dialogue and negotiation create genuine, engaging and productive two-way transactions. We need to use energy from the body, emotions, intellect and the spirit.
3. “Put the fish on the table”
This expression means, simply, raising a difficult issue without being aggressive or hostile. The analogy comes from Sicily where the fishermen, who are strongly bonded, put their bloody catch on a large table to clean it together. They work through the...
References: George Kohlrieser, Hostage at the Table: How Leaders can Overcome Conflict, Influence Others, and Raise Performance (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2006),
Chris P. Neck, Charles C. Manz, Journal of Organizational Behavior (1986-1998).
Please join StudyMode to read the full document