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Conflict Management: Types, Management Skills And Efficient Strategies

February 01, 2023
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In a competitive environment, workplace conflicts with other team members is an unavoidable and natural part of the business. Hence, the presence of professionals who comprehend conflicts and know how to resolve them is crucial. The process of recognizing and resolving conflicts in a rational, equitable, and effective manner is known as conflict management. Incompatibilities or conflicts that may result from different needs, goals, or opinions have to be dealt with quickly to prosper growth.

Reasons for workplace conflict

Reasons for workplace conflict

When employees with different backgrounds and priorities work together, conflict at work can easily happen in any organization. Conflict at the workplace can be expressed in numerous ways, such as refusal to cooperate, insults, rage, bullying and many more. Its root causes can include everything from interpersonal conflicts and poorly understood communications to organizational mismanagement. Conflict at work can hurt routine operations, resulting in lower output, failed projects, voluntary absenteeism, decrease in turnover, and termination. Hence, dealing with conflict quickly is the best way forward.

Types of conflict management

Types of conflict management

The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument identifies five different conflict management approaches: accommodating, avoiding, compromising, collaborating, and competing. Let us discuss each of the conflict management style in detail: 

1. Accommodating

Giving up one’s own needs or preferences in favor of others is a sign of being accommodating. One would be putting other people's worries ahead of their own. This kind of behavior typically occurs when one simply caves in or is persuaded to do so.

Pros: Accommodating fosters a positive and harmonious environment by prioritizing the needs and preferences of others. 

Cons: Constantly giving up personal needs can lead to feelings of resentment or frustration over time.

2. Avoiding

An avoiding conflict management style completely avoids conflict. One wouldn't pursue their personal beliefs or the beliefs of the other parties involved. In other words, whenever a conflict arises, one would continuously put it off or avoid it entirely.

Pros: Avoiding conflicts can help in maintaining relationships and preventing unnecessary tension.

Cons: The avoidance strategy may lead to delayed conflict resolution, allowing issues to escalate. 

3. Compromising

A compromising approach looks for a solution that, at the very least, partially satisfies all parties. Finding a compromise between all the needs would require effort and frequently leave people feeling unsatisfied or only partially satisfied.

Pros: Compromising seeks a middle ground that partially satisfies all parties involved. 

Cons: While compromise avoids extreme dissatisfaction, it may leave everyone only partially satisfied, leading to lingering discontent and potential future conflicts.

4. Collaborating

A collaborative style looks for a solution that will satisfy the requirements of all parties. Instead of attempting to find a middle-ground solution, one would seek a solution that pleases everyone and results in a win-win scenario.

Pros: Collaboration aims for a win-win solution by satisfying the needs of all parties. 

Cons: Collaborative conflict resolution can be time-consuming due to the need for extensive communication and consensus-building. 

5. Competing

A rival approach adopts a rigid stance and declines to consider the viewpoints of the other parties. One would persist in promoting their point of view or discrediting others' suggestions until one won the argument.

Pros: Competing allows for quick decision-making and decisive action.

Cons: A competitive approach may strain relationships as it can be perceived as dismissive of others' viewpoints. 

Conflict management skills

Conflict management skills

Conflict management is very crucial in the workplace. The process requires practical skills to perform conflict management among the employees when the situation arises. Following are the types of conflict management skills one should have in the workplace.

1. Effective communication

When communicating effectively, one must pay attention to the person they are speaking to and modify their language and nonverbal cues accordingly. Avoid using offensive or inappropriate language.

2. Active listening

Communicate to others about your appreciation for their opinions and your desire to comprehend them by using active listening techniques. When one actively listens, they are learning new perspectives that can improve their ability to manage conflicts.

3. Practicing empathy

Empathy is the deliberate effort to see another person's point of view to comprehend how they feel. In addition to helping one better understand their counterpart's needs, wants, motivations, and goals, empathy also allows one to consider their pain points.

4. Problem-solving

One can demonstrate problem-solving abilities by working with others to comprehend the root of the problem entirely and come up with creative solutions.

5. Positive attitude

One can process and resolve conflict, so the workplace becomes more cohesive by keeping a positive attitude. Positive thinking enables one to acknowledge that mistakes do occur and, as a result, determine how to resolve the issue amicably and move on.

6. Clear-headedness

One can manage their emotions in the workplace when they are composed. A conflict can be avoided from becoming needlessly worse with a high level of emotional intelligence.

How to apply conflict management strategies in the workplace

conflict management strategies in the workplace

To prevent or settle disputes that could harm business's productivity, management can use the following steps to help reach a compromise:

1. Recognize the issue at hand

It may be tempting to act as though there is no conflict or that it will end on its own because nobody likes conflict. Even though this might occur, attempting to ignore a problem will typically only make it worse. Conflicts that are ignored swell over time and recur at the worst possible times. Managers should handle conflicts as they arise to prevent potentially volatile situations.

2. Identify the conflict

Understanding the conflict's root cause will help one comprehend how the problem developed in the first place. The parties must communicate their shared understanding of the problem and discuss any unmet needs on either side. Managers should ask questions repeatedly until one is certain that everyone involved in the conflict is aware of the situation. During the conversation, one should assist the parties in staying on topic and putting personal feelings aside. Managers should discuss the problem objectively without assigning responsibility to anyone or a group.

3. Try to come on a neutral ground

It is important for all parties to feel safe and impartial when discussing a problem or its potential solution. A place like this also enables open communication among all parties involved. Selecting the offices of either party or a location nearby could be interpreted as a sign that one side has more sway or control over the other. This will ensure better to have a better solution while dealing with conflict.

4. Allow everyone to voice their opinions

Ensure that each party has a chance to voice their opinions and perceptions on the matter. Give them an equal opportunity to speak. Managers should adopt a constructive stance during the meeting, and if necessary, establish ground rules. They should encourage everyone involved to communicate openly, understand the reasons behind the conflict, and start looking for solutions.

5. Decide on a course of action

Managers should give the case some thought after hearing from both parties. Based on what was said, they should refrain from making assumptions or rendering a judgment. Investigating further to learn more about the events, key players, problems, and reactions of the populace can be a good idea. Managers should look for any hidden sources of conflict that may not be obvious or noticeable at first. They should choose the one that will be most beneficial to all parties involved after exploring all possible options. Each party should state their agreement that the suggested fix is the best one available.

6. Enable contribution of each side to the solution

Both parties have now participated in the discussion about a workable resolution. To be effective, the solution must be accepted by both parties as being just and fair so that both sides have a better understanding of one another. Conflicts can frequently be resolved by facilitating an honest dialogue. To move forward with a resolution, this step necessitates some time and work on the part of both parties as they attempt to put aside their differences and preferences and find some common ground. Managers can create a list of actions to carry out the resolution that has been agreed upon after consulting with both parties.

Our daily lives frequently involve conflict. It's possible to disagree with one's relatives, friends, or coworkers. However, one can use several conflict resolution techniques to ensure proper conflict management. The achievement of organizational goals depends on managing and resolving conflict, and determining the best ways to handle a problem or disagreement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What are the different approaches for dealing with conflict?

Ans. Collaborating, competing, avoiding, accommodating, and compromising are the five main approaches.

Q2. How can one ensure proper communication during a conflict?

Ans. Mediators or managers can provide equal time to each party for presenting their case, and steer people towards solutions while discussing the matter.

Q3. What are the top conflict management skills?

Ans. Active listening, effective communication, problem solving capabilities, and positive attitude are the necessary skills for management of any conflict.

Q4. What are the top reasons for workplace conflicts?

Ans. Insults, incompetence, and deliberate refusal are some reasons for conflicts in a workplace.

Q5. Can conflict management skills be developed and improved over time?

A5. Yes, conflict management skills can be developed and improved over time through training, experience, and a willingness to learn.

Q6. Are there specialized conflict management strategies for different industries?

A6. While the core principles of conflict management remain consistent, there can be industry-specific considerations. Different industries may face unique challenges and dynamics, requiring customized conflict management strategies. 

Author
Deepti Shangari
Deepti Shangari, a seasoned senior content writer, whose passion to write, manage and conquer knows no bounds. To her, the world is an ever-changing symphony of ecstatic motion, a mesmerizing dance of evolution and unfolding. With each passing moment, the vibrant tapestry unfurls before her very eyes, inspiring her to craft literary pieces that transcend the ordinary.