Monday, May 4, 2009

Understanding Conflict

Conflicts among employees occur in every organization.

As an effective leader you need to know how to deal with conflict.

Understanding conflict means examining:
  • the concept of conflict
  • constructive conflict
  • the escalation of conflict
  • the psychological changes that accompany conflict
  • the two primary reasons for conflict.
Constructive conflict
While we all know conflict when we feel it, most of us don't work with it well because we don't understand its dynamics. What are the inner workings of conflict?

Conflict is an everyday, naturally occurring fact of life. Without it, there is no progress, evolution, or art. Don't fear it; learn how to face it and work with it. It occurs when you believe that in order to get what you want, someone else won't be able to get what he or she wants.

The concept of conflict
The resolution of a problem can show the three ways conflict can be constructive. These are:
  • when it leads to unity of purpose and collaboration
  • when it leads to better decision making
  • when it produces change.
The escalation of conflict
Many conflicts, however, turn destructive because they escalate out of control. Consider the following reasons that conflict escalates:
  • Cooperation turns into accusations and threats.
  • One issue becomes many.
  • A specific issue gives way to general complaints.
  • Consideration turns to getting even.
  • More people begin to get involved.
The psychological changes that accompany conflict
There are a number of psychological changes that happen to people when they get involved in conflicts. These are explained in detail below:
  • When you are in conflict, you develop selective perception, only seeing your own side of the story. You begin to look for evidence to prove you're right.
  • Conflict can also cause you to create a self-fulfilling prophecy, where you create a worst-case scenario, and then get what you expect by acting as if it's going to happen.
  • When conflict is played out, a complete communication breakdown occurs. Trust is rarely reestablished, and any polite conversation that follows is filled with tension and bitterness.
The two primary reasons for conflict
There are two primary reasons for conflict. One primary reason for conflict is that two people have different interests; they want different things. Another primary reason for conflict is two people have the same interests, which are in conflict; they believe only one of them can have what they want.

Exploring conflict resolution within your organization can improve the atmosphere in the workplace and lead to greater creativity and collaboration.

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