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What is Conflict?

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• Learning Tools – Mastering HR
Organizational Effectiveness,
University Alliance
• Communicate Effectively, Lani
• Resolving Conflicts on the Job,
Bill Withers & Jerry Wisinski
Learning Objectives
• Accept conflict as natural
• Discover your own perceptions and
attitudes about conflict
• Understand how conflict develops in
• Determine your style and the different
styles of conflict management
• Learn how to prepare for a difficult
What is Conflict?
• A competitive or opposing action of
• Antagonistic state or action
• Mental struggle resulting from
incompatible or opposing needs,
drives, wishes or external or internal
• Hostile encounter
Myths and Truths
About Conflict
• Conflict at work always means that there is
something seriously wrong with the
• Conflict means communication has come to a
• If avoided, conflict will eventually go away.
• All conflicts can be resolved.
• Conflict always results in a winner and a loser.
• Conflict will occur.
• Most conflicts can be managed.
• Conflict can help build
• Conflict can be a tool for
personal development
Some Positive Outcomes
from Conflict
Creates change
Brings issues to surface
Can help reduce tension
Helps get the work done
Gets new ideas on the table
Makes change happen
Some Negative Outcomes
from Conflict
People continue to avoid conflict
Hurt feelings
Things said in anger can have a lasting impact
Lack of respect
Lack of teamwork
Change not occurring or happening
Potential violence
• Conflict is natural in almost every relationship.
• It is a matter of time.
• The key is to understand where the conflict
comes from.
• Conflict can be a positive thing in organizations.
• It can spark change and creativity if successfully
• It can be negative if not addressed
or recognized.
Potential Areas of Disagreement
Scarce resources
Jurisdictional ambiguities
Communication breakdowns
Personality clashes
Power and status differences
Goal differences
Cultural differences
Effects of Disagreement
• Communication misfires
• Conflict among team members and among
teams within the organization
• Lack of clarity in priorities
• Lack of trust in each other
• Lack of trust in management
• Reduction in productivity
• Reduction in creativity and innovation
Conflict Management styles
There are five conflict management
• Competing
• Accommodating
• Avoiding
• Collaborating
• Compromising
Conflict Management styles
Assertive and uncooperative,
an individual pursues his/her own
concerns at the other
person’s expense.
Conflict Management styles
Unassertive and cooperative – this
is the opposite of competing.
When accommodating, an individual
neglects his/her own concerns
to satisfy the concerns of the
other person.
Conflict Management styles
Unassertive and uncooperative – this
individual does not immediately
pursue his/her own concerns or those
of the other person.
Conflict Management styles
Both assertive and cooperative – this is
the opposite of avoiding. Collaborating
involves an attempt to work with the
other person to find some solution
which fully satisfies the concerns
of both persons.
Conflict Management styles
This style is an intermediate in both
assertiveness and cooperativeness.
The objective is to find some
expedient, mutually acceptable
solution which partially satisfies
both parties.
You’ve got to love
your people
more than your position
In preparing for a difficult conversation,
it takes strength, emotional intelligence
and maturity to look at the other
person’s perspective, point-of-view,
and side in the conflict.
Why Have Difficult
• You’ll reduce your anxiety and get better
• You’ll identify barriers to effective
• You’ll understand and express complex
thoughts and feelings productively
• You’ll simply solve problems – amicably
Steps to prepare for a
Difficult Conversation
1. Stop arguing about who is right.
Explore each other’s stories.
Steps to prepare for a
Difficult Conversation
2. Abandon blame. Sort out and
map the contribution system.
Steps to prepare for a
Difficult Conversation
3. Do not assume, act based on facts.
Steps to prepare for a
Difficult Conversation
4. Ground your pride. Ask yourself what
is at stake?
Steps to prepare for a
Difficult Conversation
5. Create a Learning Conversation
Wrong Reflexes
What to avoid?
•Writing memos instead of talking
• Withholding needed information
• Not returning messages
• Delaying giving required support
Continue/…next page
Wrong Reflexes
What to avoid?
• Getting others to take sides
• Shouting
• Threatening
• Undermining the opponent’s reputation
• Nervous gestures
• Closed body posture
• Tense facial expressions
Importance of Sense of Humor in the
work place – basic “fun”damentals
Laugh with people, not at them
Lighten up. Don’t take yourself too seriously
Think with a sense of humor
Adopt a fun and playful attitude
Plan to have a good time every single day
Help others see the lighter side of things
Conflict Resolution Skills
There are three ways to resolve
any conflict:
• Power contests
• Rights contests
• Interest reconciliation
Degree of authority
used by the leader
Degree of authority
allowed followers
Leader makes
the decision; Leader presents
announces it. the decision; Leader presents
Leader defines
the problem,
limit, permits
gets input and
followers to make
makes the decision
the decision
Relationships are the
glue that holds team
members together.
• Seek to understand the other person’s
point of view before you explain yours.
• Try to arrive at a common goal
• Build on areas of agreement
• Clearly state your desire to find a
solution that will work for all involved
• Depersonalize the conflict
• Avoid blaming, accusatory and
inflammatory comments
•Ask yourself if this is the time and place
to pursue an issue of conflict
•See conflict as a disagreement about goals,
ideas, and methods, rather than a
personality or style conflict.
•Use a third-party negotiator when you are
unable to practice cooperative problem solving
•Listen to other people’s concerns.
•Before meeting about a conflict, visualize the
conflict resolved in the best way for all parties.
•Provide motivation for people involved in on-going
or recurring conflicts to resolve their differences.
•Always focus on reaching win/win solution.
• Again, conflict is natural
• It occurs in all relationships
• The key is how to recognize it, deal with it,
and harness it for change and success
• It starts with recognizing your own
reactions to conflict and how you can better
deal with others and their reactions to
conflict for resolution
People don’t care how
much you know, until they
know how much you care.
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