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Conflict Resolution

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I. INTRODUCTION

When two or more people come together with an aligned goal, a team is formed. This team is comprised of members, each with his own plan of action to best achieve the task at hand. Many times one member believes that his point of view is the most correct or most efficient, while another member of the team may disagree, offering her idea as best. When one individual challenges another, conflict is born. This is a very basic example, and only one type of conflict is addressed. In reality, there are several types of conflict; some positive, some negative. The sources of conflict are as varied as each member’s own personality style. Humans differ in countless ways. These differences contribute to the strength of team members. Each personality brings with it a different interaction and different communication styles, ideas, and varying levels of creativity. With each difference the possibility of conflict increases. Once conflict is encountered, resolution is vital so that the team can again focus on its common goal. Knowing what types of conflicts you will encounter will help you deal with issues when they arise.

II. TYPES OF CONFLICT

There are two types of conflicts, positive and negative:

Positive conflict, although most often referred to negatively, can also positively contribute to the overall performance of the team. Conflict is positive if the team’s ability to perform is improved. This can be through increased involvement and better communication. Once resolved, the conflict may have allowed the members of the team to better understand each other, because they have had the opportunity to communicate beyond trivial pleasantries. Another positive outcome for a team that has worked through their conflicts is increased confidence and team cohesion. When an individual engages in conflict, they usually emerge stronger, no matter the outcome. The challenge alone builds confidence. A more confident team member will inevitably be more assertive, strengthening the team even further. [1]

Negative conflict, though sometimes favorable, is antagonistic by definition, so the negative types cannot be overlooked. If unresolved, this conflict can sabotage the team’s ability to function effectively. One problem arises when one member of the team feels that their opinion is not given equal weight when compared to other team members. Thi...

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..., energy, and cooperation. The examples listed with each strategy are just the beginning of a never-ending list of possibilities (and you may use a strategy anywhere in between or even change strategies midstream). The best one can do is to first recognize where all team members are oriented with respect to assertiveness and willingness to cooperate, then have realistic objectives based on the strategy you are about to employ, and finally, take advantage of the negotiating tips mentioned earlier. Finally, this skill can only be developed with time and practice.

[1] DeJanasz-Dowd-Schneider. Interpersonal Skills in Organizations. The McGraw-Hill Companies, 2001.

[2] Kernberg, Otto. Ideology, Conflict, and Leadership in Groups and Organizations. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998.

[3]Morton Deutsch, The Resolution of Conflict: Constructive and Destructive Processes (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973), 20. This section of Deutsch's earlier work on constructive and destructive conflict resolution processes is closely paralleled by the later chapter in The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice, which offers a summarized version of his older work.