Conflict Management Processes

Ah yes, conflict management processes, that old chestnut…some could say the following clip might need some conflict management applied…

That’s a definite yes on all accounts!

In relation to theoretical approaches, there has been extensive research in these areas developing a range on opinions and academic theoretical applications.

Conflict management styles are the first theory we will touch on today. Take this for example, you work closely with your co-worker and your boss comes in and says that he needs a proposal done for a major client by Monday morning, meaning that one of you has to stay over the weekend. Your boss states that you and your co-worker have to decide who that is…uhh ohhh awkward! Theres a few things you could do as developed by Thomas (1976):

AVOID! You don’t talk about it because you know it won’t be an easy issue to resolve, showing little care for your needs or your co-workers.

ACCOMMODATE! You simply just throw it out there and say you will work on the weekend because you know your co-worker will want the day off and you don’t want to upset her.

COMPROMISE PEOPLE! You talk about splitting the time worked on the weekend to 4 hours each, keep it fair and even.

AHH HOW ABOUT COLLABORATE: You have a chat, decide that you would both rather work late Thursday and Friday together, and keep your weekend free.

Sounds simple right? Well these ideas are sooooo 70’s and has seen a series of valid critiques, such as: ‘It’s too narrow based on a two-dimensional theoretical models that may not be internally congruent’.

Also, in recent years communications scholars have looked beyond general issues such as the one just presented to you and delved more into the message style and perceptions of individuals in the conflict episode. Dissent is the final answer to these issues, developed by Jeffery Kassing and Johny Garner (2009) whereby an individual has a disagreement with a supervisor and chooses to voice this through dissent. The recommendations from the study of communicating disagreements through dissent are:

1. The need to express ideas to someone who can make a difference

2. The importance of package dissent with a solution

3. Persuasiveness of direct factual appeals in dissent situations.

Dissent, in the 20th century is the way to go people! Communicate it to someone who can make a difference, not whine to your mate across the desk. Come with a solution to the problem, not just the problem and be persuasive and have facts! Its easier, better and more relaxed for everyone.

And if the conflict is really big and scary…


They are there to help resolve the conflict, it could be a co-worker, mate or external professional to help settle the current unsettled nature.

Human relations and human resources see conflict in different lights, human relations sees is as evidence of faulty relationships amongst organisational members, they encourage employees to avoid conflict or compromise in order to return to harmonious working conditions. Human resource says HELLO to conflict, and welcomes it as an opportunity for growth and development, they are encouraged to collaborate on mutually beneficial solutions.

My take…

If you have an issue, raise it with someone who can make a difference, but don’t come whining, come with a solution and don’t start having a whine to your mate at the water fountain in the staff room, it starts unnecessary drama! I’m on the human resources side with this one, conflict has the ability to unravel dysfunctional aspects in the organisation, and they should be encouraging the voicing of concerns over matters employees may have. This also is in line with employee work satisfaction, the encouragement to voice concerns will allow for them to feel more comfortable to make changes and allow for growth in the organisation and promotes a strong corporate culture whereby there are no conflicts if they are solved early.


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