Conflict Resolution Strategies & Techniques for the Workplace - Deepstash
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Conflict is the arrow pointing to what we need to learn the most

KENNETH CLOKE

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Conflict resolution

Conflict is described as "perceived divergence of interest, a belief that the parties’ current aspirations are incompatible.” Pruitt and Kim (2004, pp. 7–8

Conflict resolution is when an agreement is reached on contentious issues.

Conflict management is when a problem has been solved where the parties had to work out ways to de-escalate conflict and avoid future escalations.

Conflict is disruptive. American businesses lose $359 billion yearly due to unresolved conflict. The emotions associated with conflict include fear, anger, distrust, rejection, defensiveness, hopelessness.

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A theoretical framework for conflict resolution

A theoretical framework for conflict resolution

People involved in conflict experience “a wide range of psychological and physical health problems including a weakened immune system, depression, alcoholism, and eating disorders.”

Realistic conflict theory states that “conflict can always be explained by some tangible (such as money, territory) or intangible (like power, honor) resource" that is desired by both groups but is not available to both.

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Psychological benefits of conflict resolution

Psychological benefits of conflict resolution

When there is conflict, the body responds with a fight or flight reaction. Stress increases blood sugar levels and speeds up the heart rate. The cortisol released soaks the brain’s nerve cells, causing memories to shrink.

When we deal with emotions first, it will help reduce stress, allowing for regular, rational problem-solving skills to continue.

That is why it is important to wait for the emotions to subside before engaging in a discussion. Benefits include:

  1. Stress reduction
  2. Improved self-esteem
  3. Improved self-efficacy
  4. Better relationships
  5. Increased energy

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Conflict resolution skills

The following skills are vital for resolving conflict.

  • Self-awareness is recognising a feeling when it happens.
  • Self-control is the ability to regulate unrule impluses and emotions.
  • Assertive communication is where the speaker maintains self-respect, expresses personal need, and defends their own rights without abusing or dominating the other party.
  • Collaboration considers all the important needs of the primary parties and develops a suitable solution.
  • Problem-solving pursues alternative solutions.
  • Empathy is the ability to share and understand others emotions.
  • Active listening.

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The conflict resolution method

The conflict resolution method

This method works well for conflicts involving values and intense emotions.

  1. Engage with the other respectfully. Respect involves how you look at the other person, how you listen, your tone of voice, and word choices.
  2. Listen fully until you understand the other side, the content of the other person’s ideas, what it means for them, and their feelings about it.
  3. Verbalize your feelings, views, and needs. Assertive communication works well at this stage. However, this is not always necessary. When you make a statement, be brief and truthful, but avoid loaded words. Show your feelings.

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Collaborative problem-solving

When two or more parties are willing to work on solving a contentious issue:

  1. Define the primary needs surrounding the conflict.
  2. Brainstorm possible solutions.
  3. Choose solutions that meet the needs of both parties.
  4. Create an agenda delineating who will assume each task.
  5. Implement the plan.
  6. Evaluate the solutions and reevaluate if required.

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Approaches to work through issues in work settings

Approaches to work through issues in work settings

  1. Create an open-door policy.
  2. Appoint Ombudspersons - neutral or impartial managers who can help to resolve work-related disputes.
  3. Internal peer mediation. Designated employees can act as mediators to help resolve conflict.
  4. Professional mediators are impartial third parties who assist through a formal mediation process.
  5. Peer review and employee appeals are used to avoid a union process.
  6. Executive panels provide an opportunity for employees to present their claims to a panel of senior executives that will be objective and sympathetic.

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Best activities, games, workbooks, and online tools

  • The Two Dollar Game was developed to help employees learn the art of negotiation in a fun way.
  • Conflict Description Template created by the University of Iowa is intended to deal with conflict.
  • Use this workbook: Coping With Stress in the Workplace Workbook by Ester Leutenberg and John Liptak.
  • Consider online tools and resources for conflict resolution.
  • Role-play activity. Participants are presented with various workplace scenarios and encouraged to formulate assertive messages to initiate a discussion about the problem at hand.

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CURATED BY

jonathcoop

Education officer

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