Conflicts in the workplace is a continuous issue throughout every workplace environment. Conflict in the workplace mostly involves organizational conflict which is demonstrated when a union and management dispute over contracts or management and subordinates have problems in the workplace. (Solomon, Dekel, & Thomas, 2014). Workplace conflict is caused by people’s differences and how they perceive everything around them and how they approach it. There are many different types of conflict. The first type is interpersonal conflict, the second type is organizational conflict, than there is inter-group or ethnic conflicts that are demonstrated in the Israeli and Palestinian issues in the Middle East.
The final type is international conflict that is expressed in extreme struggles, such as the Iraq War. All these types of conflicts share some of the same characteristics. At the same time, they have important differences between them. For Instance, most conflicts include a sense of identity that is usually threatened by conflict. However, one conflict may be one’s personal identity and in another, it may be a collective identity.
On the contrary, most conflicts consist of interdependence in both parties. (Solomon, Dekel, & Thomas, 2014)
Workplace Conflict and Resolution
Peace and conflict surrounds us in our everyday lives. Conflict in the workplace has always been there and some of us try to avoid such drama, especially when it is just pure childish and ignorant. Other’s just know how to walk away and the majority just feed into it. What everyone should know is how to manage and handle conflict.
Escalation of the Topic
There are different reasons whys on how a conflict escalates. Precisely, there are three models that label conflict escalation: The Seven Stages of Escalation by Donahue & Kolt’s, Stages of Escalation by Glasl’s, and Demensions of Escalation by Rubin, Pruitt, & Kim’s. (Solomon, Dekel, & Thomas, 2014). Seven Stages of Escalation
The Seven Stages of Escalation by, Donahue & Kolt’s is a models that scans conflict escalation through the different stages of development. These stages show an advancement that is similar to the assembly of a bicycle. When you assemble a bike you must follow the step by step instructions that build on one another until the bike is completely assembled. In addition, to ensure that the bike is assembled properly. This model reveals how conflict escalates when a disagreement between two parties, that never gets solved. (If you refer to the figure below) Figure 1. The seven stage model is demonstrated. This model shows how the escalation progresses from no conflict to an extreme inflexible conflict. (Solomon, Dekel, & Thomas, 2014).
Fig 1. (Solomon, Dekel & Thomas, 2014)
The second model, Nine Stages of Escalation by, Glasl’s demonstrates how a conflict escalates when differences are unsolved. In addition, it explores into the “thresholds” that outline the direction from one level to the escalation level. Fig 1. above shows how the escalation progresses in each level of escalation. (Solomon, Dekel, & Thomas, 2014)
Finally, the Dimensions of Escalation by, Rubin, Pruitt, & Kim’s, take on a different point of view in examining conflict escalation. The model that is in Fig. 1 concentrates on defining the different dimensions of conflict escalation. (Solomon, Dekel, & Thomas, 2014). Description and Analysis of the Causes and Types Conflict in the Workplace Workplace or organization conflict can be good, bad, or ugly and at the same time can be managed in good, bad, or ugly ways. There are many methods in dealing with different types of conflict. These methods may be good, bad, or ugly. Emotion and frustration, is what seems to produce more within the workplace or organization. Many of us generally don’t look at conflict as an opportunity, rather we look at it as time-consuming, nasty, and counter- productive. (Bacal, 1998-2014) What are some of the prominent good and bad points regarding workplace conflict? Bacal (1998-2014), states “There are two ways of looking at organizational conflict. Each of these ways is linked to a different set of assumptions about the purpose and function of organizations.”
The views that he is referring to is the good and the bad. The bad view is the dysfunctional view of workplace conflict that is fixed in the idea that the workplace is created to achieve goals by creating structures that perfectly define the job responsibilities, authorities, and other job duties. Therefore, the “traditional” organizational thinker believes that the organization is not made or fitted in a correct and efficient manner. The most common approaches would be that there should be further improvements in job descriptions, responsibilities, and authority, which would increase the use of central power that would separate conflictions between certain parties within the workplace or organization. (Bacal, 1998-2014) The good view is the functional view that comprehends conflict as being a productive force of opportunity to grow, increase knowledge and skills, their contribution to the workplace or organizational innovation and productivity, and adapting to change. (Bacal, 1998-2014)
What are the constructive and destructive elements regarding workplace conflict? In the article, “The Difference between Constructive and Destructive Conflict”, Meehan (2014) explains the following about the elements of constructive and destructive conflict in the workplace… Constructive conflict operates under the belief that all parties can win, and that the goals of both involved parties are flexible. When two opposing parties locate a common link between them, they may begin the process of reaching a shared decision. Commonly, constructive conflict occurs when the parties feel comfortable with the level of disagreement and acknowledge a need to compromise.
Constructive conflict relies on a steady flow of communication and a shared willingness to embrace change. Destructive conflict, which often ignores the real issues between the conflicting parties, occurs for a variety of reasons. Often, a power struggle is to blame; one party remains determined to win his way on an issue of particular interest. Poor conflict management skills limit positive interaction and contribute to destructive conflict. The causes of destructive conflict originate primarily from feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness. Other contributing factors include lack of empathy, inability to understand the views of others, fear of change and personal vulnerability. In what ways do you think needs verses interests impact your conflict? The way I think needs against interests has a huge effect in my conflicts. I try to control my emotions in conflict, but is sometimes very hard.
A Workplace Conflict Scenario
Description and Analysis of Intergroup and/or Interpersonal
The individuals that are associated within the workplace conflict that I have chosen for my research paper is a manager and an employee of a casino. Marilyn has been the manager of the cash operation department for five years and has dealt with various employee issues. An employee who works in the cash operation department has been working at the casino longer than she has. Lately, Xavier has been bringing constant negativity to work which bother some of the other employee’s by making them feel uncomfortable and becoming irritable themselves. This unpleasantness has caused a big concern to Marilyn. All of this negativity creates an unproductive working environment, which is not good at all for business and for the casino for that matter. (Lombardo, 2003-2014). Marilyn has a big conflict to deal with and she will have to decide how and when she will proceed with a conflict process to find a solution to Xavier’s problem. The conflict process is comprised of five steps that alleviate friction, disagreements, problems and/or fighting.
The five steps are potential opposition or incompatibility, cognition and personalization, intentions, behavior, and outcomes. (Lombardo, 2003-2014). In the stage of potential opposition, there are potential areas of conflict that could arise involves communication, structure and personal perceptions. Since all three of these areas of incompatibility do match Xavier’s actions and behaviors, makes it obvious that there are issues with Xavier. Xavier is the kind of employee who is not a good listener and usually misinterprets what is said in the casino daily meetings. For instance, at the meeting the subject of being more courteous and nice to customers and employees as well. Xavier’s perception of this would be that it is alright to communicate with customers about work and personal problems. (Lombardo, 2003-2014). The structure of the casino’s working environment is a cause of conflict because Marilyn has 30 employees that she has to manage on a weekly basis. So therefore she does not have time to monitor Xavier’s behavior at work. Further, Xavier’s personal values and perceptions weigh towards conflict. Including, Xavier enjoys extreme drama and is actively and constantly ready to complain and cause conflict between himself and fellow employees.
The second step is identification of the element that there is conflict. (Lombardo, 2003-2014) After identifying one of the elements of the potential opposition step represents it as being conflict, than this is when step two comes into motion. Step two is centered on cognition and personalization. While this stage is in action the perception of a conflict will form between the two parties. It is very apparent that the departments poor work performance and unproductivity has caused the department in not balancing out their daily summary report, which creates overtime that the casino tries to avoid. Once this is recognized than this is when step three comes into effect. Permitted that both parties know and feel that there is conflict which creates the feeling of stress, tension, anger, frustration, and irritability that all result in emotional involvement. Once conflict happens both individuals have to decide on how to resolve it. (Lombardo, 2003-2014). The third step of the conflict process is the concerns of intention and/or decisions so that action can be taken in a definite way. Marilyn has a variety of choices in how to conduct the conflict and coming to a solution. The techniques that she can use are collaborating, avoiding, accommodating or compromising to resolving the conflict with Xavier.
Xavier attempts to use a collaborative and comprising style. Of course, Marilyn can’t wish the issue away, because she has lost a lot of money and will continue to as long as this problem is not dealt with in a professional and fair manner. More importantly Marilyn is not going to give in by being accommodating to Xavier. The first approach that Marilyn will do is schedule a meeting with Xavier in a private meeting off work hours to find out why Xavier’s behavior is so negative and making the department an unproductive work environment. (Lombardo, 2003-2014). The meeting becomes very argumentative. The fourth step is about behavior. This step is the most difficult one, because yelling, cursing takes place. In some cases conflicts becomes violent. This step adds on more issues to resolve. This step started off with Xaxier becoming very angry and saying that Marilyn was over reacting about his behavior. Both parties calmed down and started to talk calmly. Finally Xavier confided in Marilyn and admitted that was he was going through some personal problems at home.
His girlfriend of five years was cheating on him and was very hurt by this and felt like dying. He loved and trusted her so much and can’t believe that this could ever be possible. This heartbreak that Xavier was experiencing is what fueled Xavier’s negative work behavior. Marilyn could really relate to Xavier’s hurt that he was experiencing because she had gone through the same kind of hurt as his. Marylyn talked with him for a while and made him feel better about himself and that it was not the end of the world and to try to move on. Lastly, comes the fifth step which is the outcome of the conflict. The outcome is the final results of the conflict. The result is ranked at being functional or dysfunctional. This conflict could be classified as being functional, because the issue was handled in an inspiring and promising way. Most importantly no was hurt or lost their job. Xavier promised that he would improve his work behavior and Marilyn decided that he be put on a three month probation. (Lombardo, 2003-2014). I would consider this conflict as not being intractable, because of the fact that this conflict did not involve other individuals that were part or cause of Xavier’s negative behavior. On the other hand, Inter-group conflicts are more likely in being intractable. In addition, intergroup conflict has a tendency to escalate, which is one of the reasons why it can and will become intractable.
Applying Conflict Resolution Approaches
The efforts that would have been undertaken to help promote a peaceful resolution to this workplace conflict would have been to be to come to the conclusion that there is a conflict that needs to be resolved. The mediator sees that the conflict is a short term situation. The goal of mediation is to settle the dispute. (Burgess, 1997). I would have to characterize this conflict resolution approach as being a problem solving approach. The mediator role is going to be the one who will direct the problem solving process. The mediator will then direct both parties. Now the mediator will take action by first explaining that the goal of the conflict will be to come to some kind of solution to the conflict. The mediator will design a process to achieve a settlement and at the same time they will set ground rules. The mediator will then consult each party about their issues. (Burgess, 1997) After hearing from both sides, the mediator will then categorize and frames it for both disputants. Then the mediator will direct the discussion, dropping issues that are not amenable to negotiate. Instead they will focus on the areas that are in need of resolution. The mediator will not get into a discussion of the past, because this will only lead to blaming behaviors. So therefore, the focus will only be on the present and future.
That focus will be how to solve the present problems. Emotional statements by both parties are avoided, because emotions are seen as extraneous to the “real issues”. At this point the mediator will use their knowledge to develop options for settlement, which can be quite directive about the settlement terms and conditions. The mediator will then focus on both party’s situation and interests to seek out joint gains and mutually satisfactory agreements. After this, then the mediator will set time limits and encourage both party’s to move on or meet deadlines. So at this point is when the dispute has come to a mutually agreeable settlement. (Burgess, 1997). A mutually agreeable settlement could happen for both parties to reach a peaceful resolution using the problem solving approach, because this workplace conflict was a short term problem that would not be subjected to being treated as a long term problem. As for the transformative mediation approach, I think that this approach would not be the approach to be implemented. The reason is because this workplace conflict was not a long term problem, so therefore it need not be treated as a long term problem.
I will now introduce the peace education initiatives for workplace conflict. The first initiative will be that everyone is equal to respect one another’s differences. The second initiative would be to demonstrate the principles of equality and non-discrimination in administration in administrative policies and practices. The last initiative would be to develop a climate that models a peaceful workplace environment. (Peace Education, n.d.). These initiatives would be effective because it focuses on keeping peace within the workplace environment. Whether there is conflict or not, practicing keeping peace at all times is what is practiced by all employees and managers. So therefore, when there is peace than there is not a lot of conflict, not to say that there will never be conflict. There will be conflict sometime or another because everyone has different perceptions and personalities that will clash. Even though they will clash, they can at the least, try to get along by respecting one another’s differences.
I would develop and introduce a workshop on workplace peace education to every employee of the company or organization. This workshop would be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights. In addition, it will promote an understanding, tolerance, and friendship among one another and will further the activities of the workplace environment for the maintenance for peace. (Peace Education, n.d.). Overall I would implement all the above initiatives and strive to achieve peace in the workplace and educate employees on peace and conflict in the workplace. Further, a peace and conflict resolution will always be successful. Conclusion
In summary, conflict and resolution is part of everyday life for most of us. Conflict in general is an opportunity for growth. So therefore, staff and employees should reflect because, conflicts provide the chance in appreciating another’s perspective more. Including, it’s an opportunity to be able to clarify your own interests, it strengthens bonds, and at the same time you find a new ways in moving forward. Adopting these experiences and rising from them allows you to deal with tomorrow’s troubles with increased ease and effectiveness.
Bacal, R. (1998-2014). Organizational conflict- the good, the bad, and the ugly. Work911.com Retrieved from http://work911.com/conflict/carticles/orgcon.htm Burgess, H. (1997). Transformative Mediation. Conflict Research Consortium. (Web). Retrieved from http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/transformative-mediation
Lombardo, J. (2003-2014). What is the conflict process? – Definition and stages. Education Portal. Retrieved from https://education-portal.com/academy/lesson/what-is-the-conflict-process-definition-and-stages.html#lesson Peace Education (n.d). About peace education. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/cyberschoolbus/peace/frame2.htm Meehan, C.L. (2014). Differences between constructive & destructive conflict. Chron Small Business. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/differences-between-destructive-constructive-conflict-1202.html Solomon, G., Dekel, A., & Thomas, R. (2014). Peace and conflict studies. Retrieved from http://courses.jonesinternational.edu/display.jkg?courseSectionId=33999&uid=101395&tpl=frameset
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