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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Effective Methods for Managing Workplace Conflict

Conflict is a natural part of being in a society and regularly occurs  in personal and professional arenas. In the workplace, disputes can be especially destructive as issues spread to other members and damage the ability of people to work together. Learning to develop a healthy style of conflict management helps minimize damage quickly and keeps the company moving in the right direction.


Collaborating with others is one of the best methods of managing a business as it solves problems and helps keep people focused on goals (Paul, et. al., 2004/2005). When all parties are interested in resolving differences and finding an equitable solution, stronger companies emerge. The collective action of solving conflict forces the organization to get stronger as it reaches to overcome issues.


Conflict management styles determine the  preferred approach when problems arise that cannot be easily rectified. People react to challenges in different ways but fundamentally take an obliging, integrating, avoiding or dominating approach (Anjum, Karim, & Bibi, 2014).  Applying the wrong style to an explosive situation can lead to further problems.


Obliging is giving in, and this can be beneficial when the issues are not important, or the person may be entitled to what they are requesting. For example, if you forgot to return an item to a coworker and conflict results than obliging them is appropriate. Respecting the needs of others helps reduce pending issues.


Integrating is a useful method for creating strategies that blend the interest of multiple people into a shared vision. Stakeholders needs and issues are integrated into the solution so that involved parties can come to an agreement. This often occurs during negotiations or planning the use of resources.


Avoidance occurs when avoiding the person, and their demands is the primary objective. This can be counterproductive if the behavior crosses boundaries but may be beneficial if there is nothing to gain from the conflict. An aggressive person who has little to do with your core business should be avoided unless they become destructive and challenged.


Dominating is a standard approach where people seek to create power over each other instead of power with each other.  Escalating conflicts usually occur because of these dominating actions where one person attempts to force compliance of another person. For example, companies may fire an employee who vandalized property in the best interest of the organization.


Managers spend a lot of time resolving employee and customer issues and it is important to be familiar with how personality impacts the overall process of development. Creating shared visions is be a primary tool but when this isn't likely to occur, due to unreasonable demands, it is important to use one of the other approaches to find a constructive resolution. Resolving a problem quickly can help in minimizing its damage.


Anjum, M., Karim, J. & Bibi, Z. (2014). Relationship of values and conflict management styles. IBA Business Review, 9 (1).

Paul, S. et. al. (20014/2005). An empirical investigation of collaborative conflict management style in group support system-based global virtual teams. Journal of Management Information Systems, 21 (3).

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