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What is Conflict?

Conflict is an
expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scare resources, and interference from others in achieving their goals

-Wilmot and Hocker, 1998

Sources of Conflict

in ideas, information, beliefs, values, interests, or desires. scarcity of some resource.


in which one person or group competes with another.

Types of Conflict

Between two individuals Within a team of individuals

Between two or more teams within an organization

Desirability of Conflict

Conflict can be desirable. Conflict helps eliminate or reduce the likelihood of groupthink. A moderate level of conflict across tasks within a group resulted in increased group performance while conflict among personalities resulted in lower group performance .

Why Conflict Arises

Type A Personality


Type B Personality

Type A Personality

Highly Competitive Strong Personality Restless when inactive Seeks Promotion Punctual Thrives on deadlines Maybe jobs at once

Type B Personality

Works methodically Rarely competitive Enjoys leisure time Does not anger easily Does job well but doesnt need recognition Easy-going

Aggressive People

Body language

Stiff and straight Points, bangs tables to emphasize points Folds arms across body
I want you to You must Do what I tell you! Youre stupid! Aggressive people are basically insecure.. Try to avoid them.

Verbal language

Submissive people

Body Language

Verbal Language

Avoids eye contact Stooped posture Speaks quietly Fidgets

Im sorry Its all my fault Oh dear

Submissive people have a great sense of inferiority

Assertive People

Body language

Stands straight Appears composed Smiles Maintains eye contact

Lets How shall we do this? I think What do you think? I would like

Verbal language

5 ways to manage conflict

Avoidance Competition (A) Accommodation (B) Compromise (C) Collaboration (D)

Conflict Continuum
I win, you lose (competitionA) I lose or give in (accommodateB) We both get something (compromiseC) We both win" collaborateD) A B C D



The winner is clear Winners usually experience gains

Establishes the battleground for the next conflict May cause worthy competitors to withdraw or leave the organization




Curtails conflict situation Enhances ego of the other

Sometimes establishes a precedence Does not fully engage participants




Shows good will Establishes friendship

No one gets what they want May feel like a dead end




Everyone wins Creates good feelings Hard to achieve since no one knows how Often confusing since players can win something they didnt know they wanted


Toward Conflict Management

Blake and Moutons Conflict Grid

Toward Conflict Management

Blake and Mouton (1970) proposed a grid that shows various conflict approaches.

The 1,1 style is the hands-off approach, also called avoidance. The 1,9 position, also called accommodation, is excessively person-oriented.

Toward Conflict Management

The 5,5 position represents a willingness to compromise. The 9,1 is the bullheaded approach, also called competing. The optimum style for reducing conflict is the 9,9 approach, also called collaboration.

Tips for Managing Workplace Conflict

Build good relationships before conflict occurs Do not let small problems escalate; deal with them as they arise Respect differences Listen to others perspectives on the conflict situation Acknowledge feelings before focussing on facts Focus on solving problems, not changing people If you cant resolve the problem, turn to someone who can help Remember to adapt your style to the situation and persons involved

Speak it the right way..

Johnny and Ken share an apartment. For the past week Ken's friend has stayed over every night. This affects Johnnys sleeping, and he didn't do well on a test one morning. Let us see the possible approach Johnny can adopt to solve this issue before it turns into conflict. 1. Hey Ken, can we talk about your friend spending nights here and

how it's affecting me?

2. Hey Ken, why does your friend have to stay here all the time? 3. Johnny grabs Ken by the shoulder and tells him he's tired of this.
Johnny first asks Ken if they can talk about the issue without challenging him on it. Johnny summarized it clearly, without being offensive or attacking. The second question is more attacking and catches Ken off guard and he is likely to respond in a negative, defensive manner. The third option is totally inappropriate since it is more like a physical attack, and doesnt even refer to the issue!

Kens reaction:"Sure, what's up Johnny? You said you were chill with it before.... How should Johnny reply now?

didn't do well on my test Friday morning. I'd really appreciate it if we could work something out. 2. Yeah I changed my mind, he stays too often and I don't like it! 3. Johnny should push Ken for reminding Johnny he was OK with it.

1. I know we agreed it was ok. But last Thursday I wasn't able to sleep and so

The first answer is best: Johnny first acknowledges that he has changed his view, and has then given a specific example as to how this is affecting him. He is trying to help Ken understand his point of view. Keeping a calm tone encourages cooperation. It is also important to have the goal of a compromise in mind. If Johnny is vague, or doesn't provide good examples or reasons, it is harder for Ken to understand him. Both may then become defensive, and stop listening to each other. Johnny should instead remain calm and provide specific examples as to how it is affecting him. He is applying good feedback. The third response is totally in appropriate since it is a physical attack.

Kens reaction: "Hey Johnny, your test scores are bad because you play video games all day!. How should Johnny reply now?

I would really appreciate some kind of compromise. 2. What?! Who says I am getting bad test scores! I just need a good night's sleep! 3. Johnny punches Ken for insulting him.

1. Please don't change the subject, Ken. I don't mind that you friend visits but

The first answer is the best: It is hard to stay calm when the other person begins to bring up or attacks you with other issues.However, staying on subject and remaining calm helps a lot when dealing with conflict resolution. The burden of controlling the conversation should stay with Johnny who initiates it since Ken is not prepared, and may not know how to react or bring up topics that he thinks relate.So Ken was wrong in changing the subject out of his frustration since Johnny may have caught him off his guard. Johnny however should stay on subject and stay calm. And violence is never an option and a good way to ruin a friendship. "OK, I'm sorry, Johnny. If his visits are really bothering you, I can try to be flexible. And thus they had everything sorted out.

Win-Win through mediation

Dan and Sally were in the middle of an acrimonious divorce. Sally's father Jim, who had employed Dan in his business, refused to pay him for work he had done. Furious, Dan sued his father-in-law to recover his lost wages. The judge, however, suggested that they try talking with a volunteer mediator first. In this case it is the author William Ary. He brought both Dan and Jim to the table calmly explaining that mediation was different from arbitration. He was only there to help them to resolve their differences and that the confidentiality of the matter would be maintained. In case the agreement was not reached, the case would again go back to court. First Dan got the chance. His primary interest was getting paid fairly for the work he did. Then Jim gave his account, which revolved around his dissatisfaction with Dan's frequent absences from work. It turned out that Dan, with Jim's consent, was working toward a business degree at the time. The discussion was going well until the subject of Sally came up. Dan was irritated with the fact that her family seemed to interfere with their lives. While Jim felt that Dan was not looking after Sally properly due to his pursuit of degree. Soon the environment got heated into verbal frictions.

William intervened explaining to them that they were both father and grandfather to Dans children and that how would they want them to think of them - as bitter enemies or as men who dealt with their differences in a dignified fashion In the end, after two and a half hours of discussion, Dan and Jim did reach agreement. Jim agreed to pay Dan for the work he had done after deducting the health insurance payments Dan owed. Dan, in turn, agreed to drop the lawsuit and help train his replacement. They wrote up the agreement on the court form, specifying what the payment would be and when it would be paid. Jim and Dan were pleasantly surprised that mediation had brought them agreeable results without knocking on the courts door. They apologized each other and happily left out of the court.