Conflict is no stranger to any of us. We experience it in our daily lives – with our families, friends and increasingly in our professional lives. Conflict in the workplace causes many of us a great degree of discomfort, anger, frustration, sadness, and even pain. It is a normal aspect of life.
Today we live in a flat world as one big global village. There is an increase in work force diversity where organizations have teams of employees from different geographic locations, with diverse cultural and cognitive backgrounds and various outlooks. In the workplace where individuals have different perspectives toward the same issues, sooner or later there are bound to be disagreements.
Organizational conflict, or workplace conflict, is a state of discord caused by the actual or perceived opposition of needs, values and interests between people working together (Wikipedia). Conflict takes many forms in organizations. There is the inevitable clash between formal authority and power and those individuals and groups affected.
There are disputes over how revenues should be divided, how the work should be done, and how long and hard people should work. There are jurisdictional disagreements among individuals, departments, and between unions and management. There are subtler forms of conflict involving rivalries, jealousies, personality clashes, role definitions, and struggles for power and favor. There is also conflict within individuals – between competing needs and demands – to which individuals respond in different ways
Conflict resolution is conceptualized as the methods and processes involved in facilitating the peaceful ending of conflict and retribution. It involves finding a peaceful way to sort out disagreements between two or more parties. Conflicts are an integral part of every team or organization. However, the process (i.e. steps taken) of resolving these conflicts is of utmost importance. Conflicts, resolved poorly can be detrimental to teamwork and overall performance of the team.
How can conflicts be resolved effectively? There are five steps to keep in mind when it comes to conflict resolution, they are:
- Understand the conflict – Every conflict has a reason behind it and to effectively resolve it, one should have a clear understanding of the situation at hand.
- Communicate with the opposition – One major benefit of communicating with the opposition when a conflict arises is to prevent the anger from building up into hatred. You cannot work with someone you cannot stand. Therefore, it is advisable that whenever you find yourself in a conflict with one or more persons, you must ensure that you air your opinion.
- Brainstorm possible resolutions – this involves coming together with the party or parties involved in the conflict and begin to figure out ways to solve it.
- Choose the best options – in conflict resolution, it is paramount that you avoid all forms of sentimentality when selecting the best solution to the conflict.
- Use a third-party mediator – in a case whereby you are unable to come to a resolution, you should use a third party. The benefit of a third party in conflict resolution is unbiased feedback. A third party can provide a different and unbiased view of the situation.