Have you ever come across people whom you don’t get along with or you cannot imagine getting along with since you tend to dislike them the moment you meet them? This can happen in a teacher-student and boss-employee relationship. This can also be between the employer who wants to hire certain candidates for the job and he dislikes some of them the moment he sees them. I will describe a phase of conflict between me and my boss in my life, analyze it, will come up with reasons of the conflict and will think of solutions that I should have applied to resolve the conflict.
Her shouting continued in my head as I drove back home. The way she had insulted me in her office was extremely embarrassing. I recalled the past few days in which I had worked really hard on that marketing plan of a new pen we had to promote in place of an old one. This work was important to me and I hadn’t slept several nights in a row, gave it priority above all things, events and people in my life and consulted even the finance department about the budget. I had not accepted her as my boss and never will.
How could she possibly hate the work I did? I had always been complimented on my work by my previous boss and there were strong chances that I would get promoted until she came along. She had done only her Bachelors and was not even experienced. How in the world could she judge the work I had been doing since the past 2 years? She only had interpersonal skills which had appealed the HR Manager and that was about it. Her voice is shrill and fresh in my memory till now and this event that last happened would always remain engraved in my memory. The wound is still fresh since I had been used so much and I never got the promotion.
There are reasons and factors behind not liking the person. In my case I was not willing to accept her as my boss since she took the place I deserved, was younger than me, was not even experienced and she was a woman. The meaning of conflict was different for both of us since she was a younger woman to me. There definitely was disagreement between her and me which we both knew and there was an instant need of resolution.
In this situation the condition which made the conflict arise was due to structure that is the more experienced employee working under a less experienced one. This type of conflict is structural which means we both had unequal authority which was not based on our education and experience. There is also a process conflict in this situation that is how the work gets done. There are many disagreements concerning how a task should be done. We both had different views.
We both were aware of the conflict the moment she was hired and we both were introduced. A definition of the type of conflict we could face formed in our mind. However after interacting on few tasks we actually felt the conflict and we experienced frustration especially me since in this early stage I was always complaining about the unfairness and even the decisions she took.
When we entered into the 3rd stage we had the intention to compete with each other that is on the scale of cooperativeness and assertiveness we rated high on assertiveness and too low on cooperativeness that is uncooperativeness. Competition is good but only till an extent when you are ready to help each other, but when you start making trouble for each other, then it’s not healthy as you have to work towards a common goal. In this middle stage we tend to disagree with each other a lot and I gathered up even the small points against her in my mind which lead to frustration.
The intention is converted to behavior that is, how we act towards each other. The conflict went towards the annihilatory conflict that is assertive verbal attacks and then threats. This can be referred to as the passive aggression since we both were tired avoiding an open conflict and we both gave a response by voicing it. This is a later stage in which we had enough of each other and had to get out all the frustration built up in the past few months and we resorted to fight terribly with each other like uncivilized people.
Since the conflict was handled poorly by both of us it wasn’t healthy for us. The outcome of this conflict was definitely dysfunctional since we resorted to a fight and the level of conflict reached above the acceptable level. This was a lose-lose situation since she also couldn’t submit the work on time and it created a bad impression of her even(Masters & Albright,2002).
When I think over these past events, I know that they could have been dealt with differently instead of hurting each other and by saying so much against each other. During the early stages we should have thought of the conflict as constructive and instead of motivating myself to fight with her I should have controlled that urge and should have snapped out of that denial phase of her as my boss. She on the other hand could have been more understanding of my situation and should have found different ways of dealing with it instead of rejecting all my work every time, since all my work could not have been possibly wrong. Instead of an authoritative tone she should have given some consideration to my decisions as well.
During the middle stage we both should have written and taken notes of what events offended us or if there was any disagreement. These things should not have affected our work after that and we should have made mental notes to resolve that thing in the later stages. Also instead of delaying we should have cooperated with each other and accepted our faults as soon as possible to end the conflict by negotiating with each other.
Since it would have been difficult for me to compromise we should have resorted to problem-solving method that is collaborating. During the negotiation we should have kept in mind to listen to each other first by letting each other sat whatever they wanted to say in a given time and not speaking at once. The second person should address all the issues concerning the first party and explain any additional issues if any(Masters & Albright,2002). We should have also avoided attacking each other by controlling our anger and keeping a cool mind since that way by avoiding a heated debate and creating harsh feelings towards each other a better solution could have been reached upon.
We should have also searched together for points of agreement. This should be done at a time where there is lesser work to be done, by admitting each other’s mistake and aiming for a win-win conflict for it to be healthy. I should have taken her as my boss and she should have considered my views and opinions giving consideration to my knowledge and experience. Thus cooperation and willingness to resolve the conflict was required from both the sides for an effective result.
We face conflict in our lives almost daily and we tend to disagree in almost each of our relationships. Instead of allowing the conflict to become a cause for a broken relationship we should think with a cool mind and take the conflict either positively if it is possible or minimize it by resolving it as soon as possible if we think it is affecting us negatively.
Although conquering conflict to completely end it is certainly not possible since everyone has different views at some point and wants to follow a different course in life. This completely different course in life is not possible and there should be a mutual agreement since we are all bound with threads in every relationship and cannot go in opposite directions without breaking the thread and ultimately the relationship which can never be formed again the way it was before.
Masters, M.F. & Albright, R.R. (2002). The Complete Guide to Conflict Resolution in the Workplace. New York: AMACOM