Conflict is not only Inevitable but Necessary
In an organization conflicts can encourage debate and competition which is good for almost any setting. There is a such thing as conflict being healthy as it can potentially improve team culture and allow people to learn more. In the very 1st chapter, Mayer describes conflict as to be natural, inevitable, necessary, and normal is completely dependent upon how we choose to handle it not the actual problem itself. Disagreements will arise no matter what in companies, so it is best to allow it to take place freely. Most times conflicts situation will clarify doubts but also improve the work environment in general. Mayer states that “Conflict has multiple sources, and theories of conflict can be distinguished from one another by which origin they emphasize”.
This paper will discuss what is exactly is conflict, how to handle it, and the benefits of conflicts within organizations making connections between John P. Kotter’s Leading Change and The Dynamics of Conflict written by Bernard Mayer. Mayer in his preface describes conflict intervention as a skill, vocation, profession, and a cause that we are all a part of as participants and interveners. Conflict is a battle or struggle between individuals with opposing needs, ideas, beliefs, values, or goals that can transpire at workplaces, between families, relationships, and general everyday life. As humans we experience conflict as perception, feeling, and action.
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Conflict is not always characterized by disorder. Although, conflict might intensify and result in destructive outcomes, sometimes in the form of violence it can increase conflict. This whereas humans we experience conflict as a feeling. Mayer says, “We often describe conflict in terms of how we are feeling—angry, upset, scared, hurt, bitter, hopeless, determined, or even excited”. Some familiar emotional responses that conflict may reveal are concerns about identity are pride, shame, and anger. While feelings of pride are linked to individuals’ feelings of closeness and connectedness, feelings of shame are often the product from parties’ sense that these relationships are threatened. Groups caught in a dispute are prone to unintentionally humiliating each other or disregarding one another’s perspectives during the heat of the moment. While end feelings of humiliation and disrespect can give expansion to unacknowledged shame.
Conflict can also lead to a new social or political organization and therefore be productive if the parties involved are able to deal with their incompatibilities so that such a new organizational form is achieved. We can argue this conflict as perception, which Mayer states, “As a set of perceptions, conflict is our belief, or understanding that our own needs, interests, wants, or values are incompatible with someone else’s. There are both objective and subjective elements to this dimension”. Each party may have a different perception, but conflict should allow those individuals involved to come together to an agreement or compromise. Because most people generally don’t know the reasons behind the other person’s behavior, it so important that recognizes that not everyone has the same perceptions hence why it is important to understand the way people deal with conflict. As regular participants and interveners of conflict we must always keep in mind that there are various factors that create perceptual filters or cultural frames which can influence our response to conflict.
Examples of different perception from individuals are sometimes as simple as men vs women in which they may approach conflict with differing mindsets about the desired outcome of the situation and about the possible solutions. Stereotypically women are always said be to more emotional than men. Conflict participants may also respond to the conflict based on previous knowledge, they may have about the issue at hand or one could have general knowledge in which they can think back on from a similar experience. As conflicts can also be presented as an action, Mayer describes “Conflict is also understood and experienced as the actions that people take to express their feelings, articulate their perceptions, and their needs met, particularly when doing so has the potential for interfering with others’ needs”.
Conflict behavior can arise at other people’s expense and at times be violent. As a a consequence of negative feelings, one side may be antagonistic and resist anything the opposite side proposes. An individual will sometimes also seek revenge for what they see as the bad behavior of the other side. Anger sometimes disrupts negotiations by reducing the level of trust, clouding peoples’ judgment, narrowing their focus of attention, and changing their original goal from reaching agreement to retaliating against the offender. In conclusion, negative emotions contribute to lead toward inaccurate judgments, lessened concern for the other individuals’ preferences, and neglect of their own personal goals. Mayer mentions that conflict behavior doesn’t always have to be negative, “Conversely, this behavior may be conciliatory, constructive, and friendly”. It becomes more effective once individuals are more aware of their natural tendencies and are also able not to act upon them, and instead to show flexibility in behavioral approaches.
Conflict resolution is always the goal, but it involves communicating effectively and coming to a mutual compromise. A mutual compromise should involve a positive conflict resolution process requests all parties to be open to all ideas. Mayer states simply that, “If the parties to a dispute can agree on an outcome that is mutually acceptable, then the conflict has been resolved” . We typically experience or witness conflict that can occur between co-workers, or between supervisors and subordinates within organizations. It also can occur between groups, such as management and the labor force, or between whole departments.
There are a diverse number of ways to achieve conflict resolution through different skills acquired by different individuals based on their experience. Utilizing these skills to be mentioned will help decrease miscommunication significantly and create more opportunities for parties to come to a common ground. It is important to not get defensive about an attack during an argument, but to take it as an opportunity to see things from a different point-of-view. All parties don’t have to agree with what’s at hand, but they can try to understand where one another is coming from. The best way to solve a conflict most times is by allowing each person to express their argument and/or opinion without being ignored or taken for granted. Active listening plays a tremendous role during conflict resolution. Applying active listening that one may have misinterpreted the original argument can lead to participants to be more equipped to handle compromising or collaborating on a new solution when they’ve taken the time to listen, think, and plan.
As mentioned earlier in this paper, emotions can and will affect conflict in the most dramatic ways at times while no real effective resolution can come from anger, outrage, or tears. Both parties should remain level-headed in order to think rationally about a solution that appeases both sides. Maintaining a calm tone can completely change the outcome in almost every conflict. In order to have a successful resolution meeting, any emotions should be let out prior to entering to be calm and ready to debate with consideration for differing perspectives. This leads to being open to hearing out all sides and having a willingness to collaborate and/or contribute to mutual efforts in accomplishing a resolution. Letting go of pride and a grip on the argument in most significant conflicts becomes essential to come to some sort of agreement between both parties.
Most times we tend to overlook the idea of conflict having multiple positive benefits especially within organizations or personal relationships. With conflict encouragement, debate and competition which is good for almost any environment. Also, it improves team culture and allots for people to learn more while growing with desired or agreed upon changes within a company. Handling conflict in such a way that can bring all parties together can lead to successful building coalition. One of the most surprising benefits that come with organizational conflicts are that it allows more room for changes to occur. Per Kotter, building an effective team based on trust and common goals are essential. Kotter states, “When trust is present, you will usually be able to create teamwork. When it is missing, you won’t. Trust is absent in my organizations”. If team members are working together putting up with disagreements and arguments at a workplace, then this is allowing them to work towards the goals that should be reached. With conflicts, new ideas are always created.
Members can always come up with new techniques and ideas when there is a disagreement of some sort leading this to allow new ideas and things to be planted. Overall, like change – conflict is necessary and essential; something that shouldn’t be shunned or avoided. Conflicts are truly a natural part of every environment and/or relationships. . Sometimes many believe it is a wise decision to escape from such disagreements occurring and handling conflict at work, but it is also important to let them take place. Results of conflict have been proven to build and advance working relationships and improve skills of employees. Conflict ultimately leads to better performance and innovation when used as a positive force.