Conflict management is a process involving the identification, analysis, and resolution of disagreements regarding objectives, strategies, or other issues that may lead to negative consequences for an organisation or its members. Conflict management skills help individuals manage personal conflict constructively rather than destructively. In other words, people who know how to manage conflict productively are less likely to let their differences get in the way of their ability to work together as colleagues or teammates. These skills are important regardless of whether you’re working in a team or alone because they allow you to anticipate and prevent problems before they arise. Whether you’re dealing with a teammate who has different ideas about how best to complete an assignment or a customer who has complaints about your products, having conflict management skills will ease tensions and keep your team running smoothly.
What Is the Purpose of Conflict Management? #
The main purpose of conflict management is to minimise the potential damage that comes from differences of opinion between people or groups. These differences may be related to personality, values, or other aspects of a team’s composition. Conflict management is different from problem-solving. While both activities involve dealing with disagreements that affect a team, problem-solving occurs after a conflict has erupted. Conflict management, however, focuses on preventing conflicts from occurring in the first place by addressing potential problems before they cause serious damage.
Theories of Conflict Management #
Conflict management theories are based on different types of relationships and situations, such as authority, functional, equality, and injustice.
Authority theory – This theory of conflict management has to do with the distribution of power in organisations, such as between a manager and his or her team members. Conflict management focuses on helping team members address differences in power and develop strategies for managing them so that these differences don’t become sources of conflict.
Functional theory – This theory focuses on how people in organisations relate to each other based on their specific functions or roles. The goal of conflict management in these situations is to help people understand how their differences in functions or values affect their effectiveness as a team.
Equality theory – In this theory, the focus is on how people in organisations treat one another as individuals. This type of theory takes into account the different backgrounds, perspectives, and personalities of team members and helps them use these differences to enhance their effectiveness as a team.
Injustice theory – This theory of conflict management has to do with people’s perceptions of unfair treatment in organisations. Conflict management in these situations involves helping team members understand how their different perspectives affect their perceptions of fairness and designing strategies to manage these differences.
Identifying Conflicts #
Conflict occurs when two or more people or groups disagree over goals, resources, or ways of doing things. While conflict is often viewed negatively, it actually plays an important role for teams and individuals. It helps people work together more effectively and creatively by challenging their assumptions, providing opportunities for learning, and encouraging them to approach problems in new ways.
Conflicts can arise in a number of different situations, including when team members have different backgrounds, work styles, values, or ways of getting things done, or when they disagree over the purpose of a project or assignment. Conflicts can also stem from competition among team members, such as when teammates are vying for leadership positions or promotion.
Assessing Conflicts #
Conflict assessment is the process of evaluating the nature and intensity of a conflict. Identifying the source of the conflict and assessing its potential for damaging relationships or team performance can help you decide how best to manage it. There are four main types of conflict, each of which requires a different approach for effective management. These types of conflict include:
Task conflict – This type of conflict arises when people have different ideas about how to complete a specific task or project.
People conflict – This type of conflict arises when team members have different preferences for working with others, such as work styles, communication preferences, or leadership styles.
Process conflict – This type of conflict arises when people have different ideas about how to accomplish the tasks associated with a project.
Outcome conflict – This type of conflict arises when people have different goals or expectations for the results of a project or assignment.
Analysing Conflicts #
Once you’ve assessed a conflict, you’ll need to analyse it to determine what type of conflict it is. Conflict analysis helps you pinpoint the source of the conflict by helping you consider the perspective of all parties involved. The following questions can be helpful in analysing a conflict: –
- What exactly is the issue that is creating conflict?
- What different perspectives are involved?
- What are the underlying causes of the conflict?
- How can the members of the team better understand each other’s perspectives?
Resolving Conflicts #
The final step in managing conflicts is resolving them. You can use a number of different strategies for resolving conflicts when they arise, including: –
Seeking clarification – This involves clarifying the exact nature of the conflict and your role in it.
Active listening – This approach encourages you to listen carefully to the other person’s perspective and respond to it.
Negotiating – This approach involves working with the other person to reach a mutually satisfying solution.
Mediating – This approach involves serving as a moderator to help team members discuss their differences and develop a solution that everyone can agree on.
Humoring – This approach involves using humor to defuse tension, which can help reduce the intensity of a conflict.
Tips for Managing Conflicts Well #
Manage your emotions – When you’re in the midst of a conflict, it can be easy to lose control of your emotions. To avoid this, it’s helpful to practice techniques such as deep breathing and meditation that can help you calm down and manage your emotions effectively.
Understand your role in the conflict – It’s common for people to assign blame when they’re in the midst of a conflict. Understanding that all people involved have contributed to the conflict can help you move beyond assigning blame.
Find common ground – When different people and groups are experiencing conflicts with one another, it’s easy to get caught up in these differences. Finding common ground with the people you’re in conflict with can help you find solutions that benefit everyone.
Avoid escalations – When people are in conflict with each other, it can be easy to use aggressive or negative communication. Avoid escalating the conflict by using more positive and constructive communication techniques.
Keep communication open – Even when you’re resolving a conflict, it’s important to keep the channels of communication open. This will help you identify and address problems before they escalate into new conflicts.
Follow up after the conflict has been resolved – Once you’ve resolved a conflict, make sure to follow up with the people you’ve been in conflict with to let them know you’ve addressed the conflict and want to maintain a good working relationship with them.