How To Recognise And Manage Conflict In The Workplace

Knowing how to deal effectively with conflict in the workplace is a vital management skill: managing conflict is all about the process of enhancing working relationships so that organisational goals and targets are not compromised or put in danger.

Generally, there are two different approaches to conflict: cooperation and conflict. Cooperation is the degree to which one party attempts to satisfy the other party’s concerns whereas Assertiveness is the extent to which one party seeks to satisfy its own concerns.

In the way conflict plays out in the workplace, and in any other setting, there are various stages in the process.

  1. Avoiding: being uncooperative and unassertive where the concerns of both parties are effectively ignored and put aside. People recognise that there is conflict but choose to do nothing about it.
  2. Collaborating: being cooperative and assertive in getting to a solution to the problem. Here both sides attempt to fully satisfy both parties views and arguments to hopefully reach a win-win solution.
  3. Competing: being uncooperative and assertive where we only want to satisfy our own views and opinions at the expense of the other party. We do not care about the outcome for the other party and are totally focused upon our own gains.
  4. Accommodating: being cooperative and unassertive where we seek to appease the other party at he cost of our own position.
  5. Compromising: an intermediate level of both cooperativeness and assertiveness when both sides seek to give up something but are also holding out for something from the other party. This will lead to incomplete satisfaction for both sides where there are no clear winners.

For any manager it is essential to see the different stages as they emerge and be able to switch between the five different areas effectively and the conflict unfolds.

In the long-term collaboration will always produce more effective conflict management outcomes because it enhances a sense of satisfaction and justice for both sides.

Good Luck!

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