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Joel is the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Charlie. Mr. Charlie loves to pamper his daughter with everything she loves and gets her anything she asks for. Mrs. Charlie has a different perspective on this situation. She believes in disciplining her daughter and not giving in to all her whims and fancies. These opposing views likely cause conflicts at home.

Conflict means disagreeing with someone or fights or arguments between individuals. Conflicts naturally tend to occur when people live close, such as in households and workplaces, among friendships as well as relationships. It is important to manage conflict fruitfully to ensure peace and comfort. Conflict management involves identifying and handling conflict fairly and sensibly. It is also known as conflict resolution.

Conflict Management Models

Various conflict management models explain conflicts and how to manage them. Some of these models are:

  • Khun And Poole’s Model: Khun and Poole gave a model of conflict management, with 2 different options. The first one is called distributive, in which one party wins and the other party loses. The other one is called integrative in which both parties concerns, and needs are addressed, and a solution is achieved that is beneficial for both of them. The integrative option was stated to be a better one as it led to better outcomes.
  • Rahim’s Meta Model: Rahim recognized that there is no one model or approach to managing conflict in the best way, so he combined several options in his model. There are 5 major conflict approaches, namely, obliging, integrating, avoiding, dominating and compromising.

Skills Required To Manage Conflict

  • Empathy: It is important to put yourself in others’ shoes and understand how they are feeling and thinking, to effectively manage conflict. Empathy can be expressed through showing compassion and kindness to others, being open to feedback from others, giving feedback in a considerate way, recognizing verbal as well as non-verbal cues, and understanding that others can have different perspectives on the same matter.
  • Speaking Softly: It would be helpful to put across your thoughts and feelings gently, and speak softly and kindly. This could decrease defensiveness in the other person and make the conversation less hostile. Voice intonation plays a role here. Maintain an appropriate pitch of voice, not extremely loud and not extremely soft. It should be at an optimum and clear level.
  • Apologizing: Apologizing to a partner, friend or co-worker and meaning it completely goes a long way in conflict resolution. It makes the other person feel valued and the conflict can sometimes be resolved through the simple act of apologizing.
  • Patient Listening: Listening to the other person patiently and not interrupting them while they state their side of the story is also essential. This could make the other person feel heard and seen, and they might then do the same for you. Listening to each other patiently and actively might then reduce hostility and increase the chances of coming to a beneficial solution for both.
  • Communication: Clear, considerate and genuine communication helps in effectively managing conflict. Active listening and understanding the other person’s point of view and communicating that understanding help in resolving conflicts. Non-verbal communication is as important as verbally communicating thoughts and feelings.
  • Respecting Others: Giving others’ respect refers to respecting their perspectives, even when you don’t agree with them, respecting their space and being patient and adaptable.
  • Problem-Solving and Creativity: Collaborating and making decisions together that benefit both parties could be a great way to resolve conflicts. Understanding others’ perspectives and empathy is essential before problems can be resolved through creative solutions.
  • Honoring Differences: No two people are alike. Everyone has different goals, perspectives, beliefs and thoughts. It is important to honor differences, in terms of cultures, personalities and talents. Just because someone is different from you does not mean there has to be a conflict or competition. Differences can co-exist.

Conflict Management Styles

Several contributors have suggested various types of conflict styles that an individual can apply to his or her workplace or personal life.

1. Accommodating:

This style refers to putting others’ needs before one’s own. This style focuses on letting the other party win. This style can be adapted when the issue is not extremely significant to the person or is not worth their time and effort. This style can be used when the issue is small and peace is more important than winning.

For example, a company has to decide on a place for an upcoming Christmas celebration party. Everyone has several suggestions. Kiya and Rachel have been debating on the place to go to. Rachel lets Kiya win this one, by agreeing to her choice, as this is a small issue and not worth fighting for.

2. Avoiding:

This style refers to ignoring or avoiding the conflict by resigning or taking a break from the conflict. This style can be adopted when one or both parties need space or cooling off before dealing with conflict resolution, or more time is needed for a party to come up with an appropriate negotiation offer.

For example, John and Kiya must come up with ideas for presenting their digital product. Both of them have opposing ideas for the presentation. The manager asks them to do other tasks for the day, thereby giving them a break from this issue, hoping that some space would help them in coming up with collaborative ideas later.

3. Compromising:

This style refers to finding a mid-way that requires both parties to lose something to reach a solution. This style can be adopted when a quick solution is needed and there isn’t much time.

For example, Hanna is selling compact fans to Joel. Hanna wants to sell it for $ 20,000 and Joel wants it for $ 15,000. They reached a negotiation by Hanna selling it for Rs.18,000. Both of them lose some of their initial money aspirations but reach a negotiation quickly.

4. Competing:

This style refers to being adamant and focusing only on own wins. The other party is not considered, and the compromise is completely rejected. This style should be used carefully and is not recommended for a lot of situations, as it could potentially damage relationships and increase workplace hostility.

For example, Daisy and Jacob want the same position in a company. They are competing for the same job, and only one person can win here. Daisy is more competitive, so she tries to go in first to make a better first impression and win the job before Jacob has a chance.

5. Collaborating:

This style refers to reaching a solution that ensures a win for both parties. It is time-consuming and challenging, as solutions require more effort and creativity. This style can be adopted when there is time, both parties are willing to take efforts to sit down and reach a productive negotiation, and the issue is significant to both parties.

For example, Fiona and Patrick are co-owners of a cafe. They are open to each others’ ideas and viewpoints. There was a conflict issue when Patrick wanted to hire a new chef, and Fiona did not feel the need to hire a new one. So they sat down, heard each others’ perspectives, understood each others’ ideas and reached a collaborative decision.

Conflicts naturally tend to occur and can lead to bad or insufficient productive outcomes or sour relationships. A conflict management style should be applied according to the situation and persons involved.

Related: Five Types of Conflict Styles

Organizational Conflict

Conflict in an organization or workplace has to be settled in formal as well as informal ways. These conflicts can be due to roles, division or delegation of work or any other personal issue. To ensure the settlement of the conflict, a third person should be in charge. It could be a Human Resources professional.

This professional should be fair to both parties, understand their perspectives and personalities, and give them equal opportunities and responsibilities. Their cultures should also be considered, and the conflict should be handled sensitively without hurting anyone’s cultural sentiments. Find a common goal between both parties and remind them of this goal if the conflict exacerbates.

How To Manage Conflict In The Workplace?

  • Remain Impartial. Try not to play favorites. Hear both sides and treat them equally. It is imperative to understand both sides of the story to reach an effective solution. Clarify and completely understand both perspectives before making any decisions.
  • Talk about these issues in a private place, where they are free to divulge details and feel comfortable enough to share grievances related to the issue. The place could be an office cabin or area.
  • Finding a common goal or value between both parties could help. It could make the situation lighter and a realization that both people have common goals could make them more tolerant towards each other.
  • Be calm, patient and empathetic towards both sides. Try forming a conversation with them, a rapport, wherein they can trust you. Then, the conversation can move on to the issues between them.
  • Discover the origin or source of the issue. Sometimes, the issues they are talking about are just on the surface, there could be something deeper as well. Try asking open-ended questions and letting them know that they can trust you, and then find out the actual issue, so that conflict can be resolved successfully.

Applications In Various Contexts

  • Conflict management skills are helpful in a workplace setting. It reduces hostility and negativity and increases productivity and bonding. Time and other resources are also saved when conflict is managed appropriately.
  • Conflict management skills can be helpful in personal relationships as well. It can help in sorting out disagreements between friends or couples, leading to more positivity and harmony.
  • Conflict management skills are helpful to a therapist as well. A therapist dealing with a couple or family could use some of the conflict management skills to ease the relationships between these families or couples, leading to better outcomes and emotionally healthy bonds.
  • Families can also make use of conflict management skills to manage their conflicts at home in an effective manner. Here a well-educated or experienced older age people may stand as the third party to gain a resolution for conflicts.
  • It extremely helps to succeed in business negotiation for both parties.
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