It is imperative for a good leader to understand what is conflict management. This is because, by a holistic understanding of conflict management styles, conflicts among stakeholders can be resolved effectively, thereby enhancing productivity.
Since disputes frequently arise at work, it’s critical that there be individuals on hand who are knowledgeable about disputes and how to resolve them. In today’s market, this is more crucial than ever. Everyone wants to prove their worth to the organization they work for, and occasionally this can lead to conflicts with other team members.
In this article, we are going to talk about the different conflict management strategies and styles.
What Is Conflict Management and Why Does It Matter?
Conflict management skill involves using different tactics depending on situations, creative thinking as well as negotiation. By properly managing conflict, an organization can minimize the different interpersonal issues and enhance the satisfaction of clients in a better way.
Unlike the popular perception that workplace conflict means employees are at fault, it also means there could be some issues that an organization may be suffering from. Thus it becomes important for a leader to adopt proper conflict management styles and strategies so as to resolve the conflict in question effectively.
The Main Conflict Management Styles
When it comes to conflict management, there is no one solution for all situations. Each and every type of situation is different, and hence it requires a different conflict management style to holistically resolve the conflict among all parties.
A manager who is skilled in all types of conflict resolution can analyze conflicts much more effectively and prescribe a solution accordingly. The following are some of the conflict management styles as described below.
This is one of the best conflict management styles, which is responsible for producing some of the best results. Though they are time-consuming to reach, they are truly worth it.In this conflict management style, the needs of each and every party are considered so as to create a win-win situation for all. This essentially involves an honest discussion with all the parties by listening to them carefully, explaining the situation to them as well as maintaining an environment so that everyone can voice out their concerns in the open. By listening to everyone’s concerns and feedback, you can then accordingly arrive at a solution. With a collaborating conflict style, everyone feels heard and understood. It also leads to developing outstanding solutions for problems as well as strengthening existing relationships. However, this style may require a significant amount of time and effort. Though, as said before that each and every second you spend on resolving this conflict management style would be really worth it.
The competing conflict management style is primarily based high on assertiveness and low on the lines of cooperativeness. In this kind of conflict management style, you generally believe that your point of view is completely correct and that you are not willing to budge from it. In this conflict management style, you generally have to use a combination of borderline aggression along with formal authority as well as informal authority links to gain control of a conflict. Sometimes by adopting this style, people in your organization may refer to you as one who is highly focused on achieving goals.
The competing conflict management style can be highly effective when you have to make an unconventional decision or at a time of crisis. However, it is important that you use this style seldom, as continuous usage of this style can harm the relationship with your team members and peers, decrease creativity and innovation along with hampering engagement.
Accommodating essentially means a willingness to be helpful as well as obliging. Essentially if we turn at the origin of this style, it is one of the five styles developed by two psychologists who were known as, Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann. The accommodating conflict management style majorly ranks lowest in terms of competitiveness however is placed on a larger scale of cooperativeness. Cooperative, in this case, means resolving the conflict by keeping the other’s concern and interest in mind, thereby maintaining solid goodwill.
Essentially this conflict management style is used when you have made a terrible mistake, speaking to someone in a position of authority, or admitting your faults. However, it is important not to overuse this style as, in such cases, you would be considered a pushover and have a weak personality.
This style allows conflict to be resolved quite quickly without disturbing the pace of work. It also helps to maintain a positive working relationship and act selflessly to earn goodwill. However, if you overuse it can lead to undermining your contributions and act as a weak performer who would be unable to take on complex challenges.
In this type of conflict management style, you would not be involved in the conflict at all and leave the other party in a hanging situation. It is quite a risky approach to adopt this conflict management style as, without any effort, conflict does not go away automatically. Thus it becomes important to understand when you would be using this conflict management style. Try to use this style when you need a specific amount of time to formulate a response when the situation does not require the topmost attention.
Additionally, if you are someone who is working with a person who handles conflict in the avoidant process, then you can try to involve a mediator in this case.
In these scenarios, mediators can be neutral and try to balance the power between both parties and accordingly arrive at a solution.
The compromising conflict management style is one of the important conflict management styles that individuals can use when a dispute arises. As per a survey conducted, this style is the second most popular style in workplace conflict. There is a major difference between the compromise and collaborating conflict strategies, as the former focuses on a solution that is a mutually acceptable situation that is not the exact solution to the concerns the parties desire.
It works best when there is little at stake or when the subject matter is just somewhat significant to you. In those circumstances, you would be more willing to compromise on some or all of what you want in order to resolve the dispute swiftly and keep the relationship intact. Finding a “good enough” solution will allow you to proceed with as little negative impact as possible, not the ideal one. Though this is one of the most fair and most equal ways of resolving conflict, overusing this style may lead to temporary and unsatisfying outcomes. It also leaves feelings of frustration and resentment among some who then maybe not be willing to compromise again.
This conflict management style leads to solutions that can work for the time being, thereby helping to resolve more important matters. It allows the conflict to be resolved much more quicker. There is no win-win situation for all parties here as both of them may face some wins and losses. However, this style may often result in temporary solutions which may not be good in the long run. Moreover, this style may be resentful to some as they may not be willing to compromise in the future period in some cases.
Conflict Management Strategies To Ensure the Best Outcome
Conflicts are inevitable hence it is important to use suitable tools to address this conflict by keeping the differences at bay and arriving to a resolution in a strategic way. The following are some of the conflict management strategies given below in order to ensure the best outcome.
Always Be Aware of Conflict
Self-awareness is one of the important strategies of conflict management. In cases when the stakes are high, the opinion of people may differ; in such cases by self-awareness, you can tone down the escalation. People in a conflict can approach situations in different ways; thus, it is important that you know the essence of the conflict and can approach solutions accordingly. To become aware of a conflict, you can try to ask yourself reflective questions as well as conduct a survey on the past experiences of people and accordingly try to solve it.
Gather All the Information When Conflict Occurs
A conflict mainly arises from a situation and a series of events. Thus it is important that you gather information for each and every element and ask relevant questions to gather information related to the conflict. The following are some of the points you can take in order to gather all the information when the conflict happens.
- The People Involved
In case of a conflict, it involves two parties or more than two. Try to gather information about who were the parties involved and how they got involved in the situation.
- The Details of the Event
Try to gather details of the event and the sequence of how it unfolds. This is because by possessing the details of the event or chain of sequences, you can understand how and when did the conflict evolve and accordingly then can adopt a strategy.
- Try to Look Beyond the Incident
When you are examining the details of the event, try to look beyond just the initial information and also try to look for in-depth information by asking probing questions which would thereby help to address the real problem. Try to understand the perspectives of the parties involved in the conflict, which would then help you understand how to approach to the solution
Additionally, also try to understand the causes and accordingly make a report on each and every detail.
Make a Decision on How To Handle the Conflict
A conflict can severely impact the communication of your team; hence it is really important that you solve a conflict accordingly. Try to first get the details of the problems, brainstorm, and generate new ideas to resolve the conflict. Additionally, since you now know about the different conflict management styles, you can then accordingly approach a situation and handle it in the desired style. However, it is important that you identify the problems properly and accordingly adopt the conflict management style.
When you are trying to resolve your conflict, it is important that you be fair in the process and do not create any kind of bias. Try to follow some basic points when you are approaching to be fair in a conflict. Always when approaching conflict, try to remain calm and not overreact to situations. Additionally, try to be specific about what actions of people are bothering you and also hear what others have to say. Try to take up one issue and deal with it. Discuss one topic thoroughly before approaching the other one. This helps to solve the conflict in a much more effective way.
Agree on How to Proceed and Be Decisive
When you have identified the conflict, it is important to address the problem, and for that, you need to adopt the right strategy and make some quality decisions. The following are some of the conflict response styles that you can adopt
- The Realtor
They are generally likely to use empathy when resolving conflicts and are good at cooperating with others.
- The Analyser
They generally try to have a systematic look at issues by analyzing facts and accordingly arriving at conclusions.
- The Director
They generally have a lower emotional connection and a higher assertion level. Hence they are quite practical and mostly adopt the competitive style of conflict management.
They try to be cooperative and, at the same time, are much more assertive. They are quite outgoing and enthusiastic in nature, for which they have a very unique plan to resolve conflicts.
Once you have decided which path to approach, you can then make an action plan on how to settle the dispute without compromise and then accordingly settle the disputes.
Evaluate the Relationship Between the Conflicting Parties
Essentially in normal circumstances, when you are involved in a conflict, you should try to collaborate with the other party. However, before you collaborate or mediate between the conflicting parties, it is important to evaluate the relationship between the conflicting parties. This means you need to understand how important or supportive that relationship is and whether it is worth the time and effort you will provide. In certain cases, if you feel that you are involved in a conflict on an unimportant issue, you can also try to adopt the avoiding conflict management strategy in case you feel that the relationship is of a short-term nature.
Work on Preventative Strategies to Avoid Future Conflict
Another most important step that workplaces should engage in is to work on such strategies so as to prevent conflicts from rising in the future. Each and every workplace needs to have clear roles and responsibilities with a proper chain of communication. Additionally, also try to establish systems and procedures so as to improve the work. Also, to prevent conflict, make sure you follow proper skills like organizing, making decisions, listening, communicating effectively, goal setting and evaluation, as well as having a good system for the feedback process.
Frequently, individuals enquire, “What is the fundamental conflict in daily use?” A problem could arise if certain people didn’t agree on everything. Therefore, consider the lessons you may draw from the conflict and your handling of it. This will enable you to improve and cultivate your conflict management abilities through training, as well as assist you in knowing what to do when the problem reappears.
Conflict is a part of our lives. It may happen in our family, with our friends, and in our workplace. So the process of arriving at the solution to the question of what is conflict management, there is has a lot of dimensions involved in it. Managing as well as resolving conflict in a strategic way is quite important when meeting the goals of the organization. So if you are an employer, you need to adopt the best conflict management style so that you can effectively manage the situations. The above strategies we mentioned are some of the conflict management styles that you can adopt. You can explore the different tips that we mentioned so as to understand the conflict and approach conflict resolution in a better way.