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Conflict STEP BY STEP

Conflict is synonym of: battle, clash, collision, combat, competition, contention, contest, fracas, fray, rivalry, struggle, war. From a business perspective, is defined by Huczynski & Buchanan (2010), as a disagreement through which the parties involved perceive a threat to their needs, interests or concerns.

What is the concept YOU would associate conflict with?

war fight Image: Two Afghan burqa-clad women walk along a street in Kabul on May 6 bully-21-300x195

Most of us, when hear the word conflict, associate it with negative images. Traditionally, in the business world, is seen as bad for organisations and represents behaviour that should be controlled or repressed. Even more, Mullins (2006) affirms that it may cause emotional and physical stress to people involved in conflicting situations. However, most of the time, people respond to the perceived threat, rather than to the true threat.

Consider a scenario in which a company releases a new product on the market. The Financial Director and the Creative Director will have totally different ideas regarding the launch. The first one will see it in terms of money, profit, investment, while the second will consider it as an opportunity to be innovative and create a successful campaign. In this case, the difference in perception of what success is leads to conflict.

In these situations, it is necessary to think out of the box and out of your vision. This can act as an agent for evolution and improve the organisation’s strategy. It will also help to enlarge your horizons.

Here are some tips that will help you seeing conflict as a constructing force:

  1. Take responsibility for resolving the problem
  2. Agree to be open and honest
  3. Make the others feel that they would have their saying and you will hear them
  4. Listen objectively and not for feedback
  5. Ask open-ended questions to understand their point of view
  6. Summarize their words to prove you are actively listening
  7. Be willing to compromise. Nobody will have their way entirely!
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10 thoughts on “Conflict STEP BY STEP

  1. I have worked as an internal comms practitioner for the past ten years for companies around Europe and as far as I am concerned, conflict in the workplace is something that people struggle to deal with. They avoid facing the issue. Most of the time people think the best solution is to avoid the conflict in order to maintain harmony in the workplace. Well…that will not solve the proplem, plus, will add a lot of stress, worries and de-motivation. As you say in your post, the best solution is to face the conflict with an open mind.

    I think your seven steps to conflict resolution sum up pretty well the process. You managed to explain it in a comprehensible way; however, conflict is a very wide and complex concept to explore. I am interested to see the approach you will take in the next posts.

    Howard

    • HELLO.

      Thank you very much for taking time to leave a comment on my blog.

      I do agree with your point. Even though avoiding conflict is not necessarily the best solution is definitely the easiest. However, I do understand that dealing with it is the best solution, but definitely the hardest.

      Thank you for your interest. I will keep you updated on my posts.

  2. Hello,

    I am a PR and comms student in London and I have Been thought that conflict should be embraced and if managed properly has positive outcomes.

    However, let’s be honest here…when is the last time you considered a conflict with your friend, lecturer or boyfriend positive???

    We all react negatively to conflict: we get angry, we shout, we get frustrated and disappointed. In a conflicting situation, where you feel not understood or attacked it is difficult to think: “we will discuss this and make the best out of it”.

    Let’s consider the following situation that is very common to a students: we have an assignment that we particularly like and we work hard going that extra mile because we want to do well. Then we hand in and we are very confident and positive about the piece of work. However, eventually, we receive our mark which is much lower than expected and a feedback that we don’t agree with. It often happens that we don’t the feedback we receive and leave the lecturer’s office with the idea that he/she was unfair, the assignment was not market correctly and that your classmate that got an A did not do anything more than you did!

    Well, according to theory , we should actively listening the lecturer and embrace the feedback in order to improve…but when is the last time you reacted like that?

  3. HELLO

    Thank you very much for taking time to leave a comment on my blog

    I totally understand your point of view. As I student, I found myself in similar situations. You put a lot of effort into a piece of work and think that is the best you could have done. Then is highly disappointing to hear from your lecturer that it was not at the standards he/she expected.

    When we are frustrated is difficult to listen to another’s party point of view. However, active listening is the key to leaning and improving ourselves. Without embracing chance, we will never evolve.

  4. It is easy to say: conflict should be faced and make the best out of it. In the real world though, the interest each party has in a particular situation – especially if business is involved – is too high to play easy.

    Everybody wants their slice of the pie.

  5. Hello Natasha,

    In my opinion positive conflict is not about managing to divide the pie…but actually, making that pie bigger. I think that if the involved parties discuss and are willing to move from their initial ideas, then together will reach an agreement that will satisfy both.

    Is not about compromising, is about figuring things out in order to suit both parties. What do you think about that?

  6. I graduated in the UK but work in Boston atm. In the company I work (an American food retail) we tend to not consider conflict as ‘conflict’. I explain…in the work place you can’t take things personally. Is all about the business. So every misunderstanding MUST be solved in the best possible way for the BUSINESS! Is not about my interest or your interest, is about the company’s best interest.

  7. Edward, I think that if you are passionate about you work, is impossible to see it just in terms of business and not personally.

    • …and this is how conflict begins. Two people discussing about the same topic with totally different perspectives. It would be interesting to see a conflict on a conflict blog.

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