Till now conflicts have been defined by severalcategories: emotions, antecedent conditions, behaviours, cultures, andperceptions. Instead of a specific definition, many tried to adopt a broaddefinition of conflict.- Some defined conflict as the process which beginswhen one party perceives that another has frustrated, or is about to frustrate,some concern of his’. This definition is broad enough to include many kinds ofconflict phenomenon. It specifies that the beginning point of a conflictprocess is the point where other social processes like decision making anddiscussion, ‘switched over’ into conflict.Thus, a conflict is likely to arise in a situationin which there is more than a party with different interests of working waysand outcomes.
In this context a conflict is related to a situation in which oneperson or party feels that its interests are being opposed or negativelyaffected by the actions or interests of another person or party.Conflict at health care places can be extremelydangerous. Although some people argue that conflicts may have benefits, it isclear that many instances of conflicts are harmful.- A conflict can result in win-win or lose-win orlose-lose situation.Out of these win-win situation is most important inconflict resolution.It is very difficult to create a conflict freeenvironment but it is possible to manage the conflict.
– Conflict management is the process of trying todecrease the intensity of negative aspects of a conflict between two parties byincreasing the positive aspects of the conflicts. The performance of an employee or a team or anentire organization depends on how they go about in conflict management. If a conflict is managed properly then it canenhance the organizational learning by increasing the people to take up newchallenges and to come up with questions.- A manager plays a very important role in managingconflicts. The management of the conflict should always bedone in an impartial way and it has to be addressed as soon as possible.
– When conflicts are managed properly, it increasesthe effectiveness and performance of the outcome of a group, as well as the wellbeingof the individual, as indicated by health complaints.Due to the increasing competition and rapid changesacross the industries, stress has increased on management and workers alike,thus increasing the chance for workplace conflicts. Conflict resolution is reduction, termination orelimination of all types of conflicts in a situation.
Thus, conflict resolution has become an essentialprocess and more importance is given to conflict prevention at workplaces. 1. TYPES AND CAUSES OFCONFLICTS AT WORKPLACE There are different perspectives of conflicts. · Some see in form of “conflict of interest” which is about the issues ofinterests between two individuals or groups.
· “Cognitive conflict is another form which may arise due to peoplehaving different ways of viewing things.· Third is “value conflict”, which arises due to disagreements related todifferent value and expectations. Most of the workplace conflicts arise due to various miscommunicationsand misunderstandings. These arise mostly because of the cultural differencesin styles of negotiating and handling conflict. There are chances that thenegotiator may misread the signal by the counterpart or may transmit anunintended message.
Thus, problems are caused in more subtle and indirect ways. · Workplace conflicts are mainly due to the cultural difference betweenthe employees. – Such conflicts are common in joint ventures of the two different firms.- A study between US and Asian firms tells us the reason of theircultural based conflicts. The studies reveal that Asian managers try on avoiding style because oftheir high value on conformity and, while on the other hand U.
S based managersrely more on competing style due to their high value on individual achievement. · Relating to negotiations, two types of misunderstanding may happen. Onetype is where US managers make the mistake of reading silence from their Asiancounterpart as an indication of consent. They fail to understand that thesilence in an indirect way of expressing objections. On the other hand theAsian managers misread the US counterpart’s direct way of giving an argument asindicating unreasonableness and lack of respect · Culturaldifferences between two parties also decide whether they select an integrativeoutcome or an income that involves compromise, distribution, higher managementor no resolution at all. · Conflict also arisedue to difference of opinions between two or more parties working together onthe same task.· Thus, from theabove point we can say that task interdependence is one of the causes ofconflicts between two parties. Task interdependence is the degree to which theparties have to share their common inputs, interact with each other during theperforming of the separate tasks, or receive results that are partly determinedby the mutual performance of both the individuals or groups.
Thereare three types of task interdependences: -Pooled interdependence: In thiscondition, the parties work separately of each other except for their commondependence on a authority or resource. It is the lowest level of taskinterdependence.-Sequential interdependence: In thissituation, the output of one party becomes the direct input/resource foranother party. Such situations usually arise in assembly-line situations. -Reciprocal interdependence: It occurs insituations where the work outcomes are exchanged frequently among thegroups/individuals. It is the highest level of interdependenceSometimesconflicts can also be helpful, as when they are resolved, they improve the teamdynamics, task orientation and cohesiveness. But, if the situation gets tooemotional a mentality of win or lose may arise leading to bad results likefrustration, job dissatisfaction and stress.
· Therefore,a conflict may be work process based or relationship based or task based. 2. CONFLICT ESCALATIONAT WORKPLACE · Escalation of conflictsbetween groups or individuals can be due to – Goal incompatibility- Differentiation- Scarce resources – Poor communication- Improper division oftasks- Ambiguity, etc · As two parties startbelieving that a conflict exists between them, the situation usually nextescalates itself in actions that outwardly show that an underlying conflictexists. · Wehave seen that a conflict between two groups can also escalate due todifferentiation. This happens when individual or groups hold different beliefsand attitudes because of their different backgrounds, training or experiences.For example, it may occur during business mergers and acquisitions, wherecultures, shared experiences, and practices of the formerly separate groups mayclash.
· There are differentmodels that explain conflict escalation. – Dynamic conflict model: It focuses on how a conflict process unfolds depending on the way it isresponded. This is to make people aware of how much the way of responding to aconflict affects the conflicts resolution.
The effect may be positive or negative.This model separates conflicts into cognitive and affective conflicts. Cognitive conflicts aretask forced where the parties that are involved put their concentration onproblem solving. Thus, there are very less chances for the conflict to escalateinto a dysfunctional one. On the other hand, affective conflicts are emotionally chargedas here, the focus is on the person, which increases the probability ofconflict escalation in turn leading to damaged relationships and decreasedcollaboration. – Hot buttons: They include the events that trigger a person to start a conflict.
These make a person lose control of his/her actions and he/she responds withoutthinking about the consequences.We should always have some understanding to identify of our hotbuttons, say from a situation in the past. We should always be prepared forsuch situations. – Retaliatory cycle: This cycle provides an overview of how a conflict escalates.We are said to be in refractory period when we get emotionally charged. · The levels of intensity in conflict escalation can be explained as: – Level 1. Differences:In this level the conflict arises due to different perspectives of the people,but who are also aware of the other party’s mindset. It is a rare kind ofconflict.
– Level 2.Misunderstandings: In this level, the two or more parties interpret asituation in a different way. To avoid this, it is better to check on themearly.- Level 3.Disagreements: It occurs when a party sees a situation differently andfeels discomfort when the other party disagrees.
But sometimes disagreement canbring a positive effect of innovativeness.- Level 4.Discord: When the conflict escalates to this level it starts to havenegative effect on the relationship between the two or more parties involved.In this level, the parties criticize, block or avoid each other.- Level 5. Critical: If a conflict has reached thislevel then it is said to be critical where the situation can lead tounresolvable conflict and a unrepairable relationship. The parties start togather support of others to join their cause so that they can strongly opposethe counter party. In the worst case the parties involved can start using destructivebehaviour or cause a war of extreme polarization.
Thus, we see that conflict escalation can be extremely harmful for anorganization or an individual. It may affect the individual’s or the groupsboth personal and professional life. That is why conflict management orresolution is very important in any organization. 3. CONFLICT MANAGEMENTAND RESOLUTION· Conflict management plansare basically of two motives: self or concern for others.
· Thestyles in which conflict are dealt include integrating, compromising,competing, collaborating accommodating, hierarchical, regression, dominating,and avoiding. However, everyone has their ownstyle of dealing with conflict management, thus there is no fixed or effectiveway of conflict management. Out of these some treat dominating,obliging, avoiding, integrating, and compromising as five main conflictmanagement patterns.· In dominating, self-concern is high and concern forothers is low.Inobliging, self-concern is low and concern for others is high.
Inavoiding, self-concern is low and concern for others is low.Inintegrating, self-concern is high and concern for others is high.Incompromising, self-concern is moderate and concern for others is also moderate. While integrating, compromising anddominating come under active strategy,obliging and avoiding patterns come under passivestrategy. Some see conflict resolution as two independentdimensions, cooperativeness / uncooperativenessand assertiveness/unassertiveness. From the above point the common approachesto conflict management will be:- Competition: The desire to achieveone’s own ends at any cost. It is close to domination.
– Accommodation: It is the mirrorimage of competition. Entirely giving into someone else’s concern. It is closeto obliging.- Sharing: It is like a compromisebetween competition and accommodation. Both parties are moderately satisfied.
– Collaboration: The effort tosatisfy both parties completely. Close to integration.- Avoidance: This may result inindifferences between both parties.
Conflict resolutionbecomes much easier if the management and parties are aware of the peopleinvolved, their personal involvement and emotions in the conflict, theirpersonal choice of conflict resolution and should also be able to judge whichone works best in that situation.A research has shown that most ofthe middle level managers spend almost 25 percentage of their time in conflictresolution.· Thus,the knowledge of conflict management should be one of the most importantcharacteristics of a manager. They need to have increased understanding of howconflicts arise and on what they are dependent on, so that they can resolve theconflict in an efficient way. This saves a lot of time. In many cases the importance ofconflict management in the workplace has been specified but till now its linkwith workplace incivility has not been explained in literature.
The way in which a conflict isdealt decides its outcome. That is why instead of trying to find an ultimateapproach to solve a conflict, it is better to focus more on determining whichapproach is more appropriate. 4. CONFLICT PREVENTION Conflicts can beprevented when the management and the parties say the team head or manager arewell aware and clear of the short term and long-term goals of the task orcompany and the people involved.
It is generally verydifficult to avoid a conflict especially in workplaces. But still some methodsare suggested by researchers, as prevention is better than cure. – Team building This is the first and the obvious. It helps strengthen and improve therelationship so that conflicts don’t arise frequently. Even if it does it canbe resolved very easily. It consists of activities that improve the functioningof a team, clarify the purpose of the team and improve the relationships.But the benefits of team building don’t last long. Due to stronginterdependencies and communication barriers new conflicts will emerge in notime.
– Better communicationStructuring of a wider system can help people to communicate easily.This is a prevention which lasts long. It helps prevent misunderstandingsbetween parties. If the structure reflects thereal interdependencies, then team building may not be needed, then it will workeffectively. Structures can also use negotiation as an important medium forenhancing relationships.
It might seem that selecting the structure for an organisation orsocial system is easy. But it is about whatever structure makes it easy tosatisfy the interdependencies.An organization should give the employees the freedom to express theiropinions and ideas, as supressing the ones working below us can lead tofrustration, increasing the chances of conflicts. – Manager role:In a team conflicts can be common due to many reasons. A manager shouldtry to create a friendly environment to ensure that no differences arisebetween the members. The manager should be impartial towards his/her teammembers as partiality can lead to dissatisfaction and jealousy among the teammembers, increasing hatred.
Thus, conflicts management is very important in an organization and themanagers should be very well trained to handle extreme situations. We shouldalways try to avoid conflicts when we are working in a group or with a groupand should always be open to take in new suggestions or opinions. We should notmix our personal and professional life as it my lead in to conflicts.
For a peaceful and successful professional life, it is very importantto be aware of conflict management. A workplace is entirely dependent on theteam work the individuals and the members should make sure that a conflictshould be avoided, even if it does they have to make sure it does not escalateand should be resolved as soon as possible.