Conflict is considered as a natural phenomenon and an indispensable component in any individual’s everyday life and relationship with others. It may occur between family members and friends. However, the workplace is most often the fertile ground for the emergence of conflicts where in the disagreement inside the organization setting could happen between two or more groups or two or more positions. In this regard, co-workers often find themselves pitted against each other in order to reach certain goals. More often than not, conflict is an action that any person does not usually analyze, think about or study (Potter and Frank, 1996).
Although the workplace is supposed to be an area where important functions are performed by each members of the organization, it is important to note that people often get upset by things that are trivial. People involve themselves in conflicts whenever they perceive that somebody is interfering in their path of achieving a certain goal. Such interference can be rooted from various sources. This may include personal limitations and interpersonal aspects like different sets of priorities.
There are instances that the source of conflict can come from unexpected changes such as sudden changes in policies. Likewise, the structure of roles and relationships can also serve as an impediment for achieving individual goals. Even the differences in styles and values can be the cause of conflict. Although there are myriads of causes for the rise of conflicts, in almost every aspect, the said causes are accompanied by the lack of effective communication. As such, the tendency of people is to strike out in different ways that more often than not provoke another person, eventually leading to conflicts (Potter and Frank, 1996).
In order to have an effective organization that has an efficient way of achieving goals, it is an imperative that the people within that particular organization have a shared vision of what they are trying to attain. Clear objectives should also be set by each individual, teams or departments.
The ability to recognize and resolve conflicts is an imperative tool for the organization to solve problems before the conflict augments as a serious obstacle to each individual’s work. Therefore, any workplace should develop conflict management process that would keep conflicts in the workplace at a minimum level. Basically, conflict management is a planning process that avoids the rise of conflict and an organizing process in order to resolve conflicts when it has already take place, as rapidly and smoothly as possible (Conflict management, 2008).
Before any organization adhere to a certain conflict management process, company heads and subordinates should first be able to recognize the different types of conflicts that could arise within the organization. There are two types of conflicts: single-party conflicts and the two-party conflicts. The two-conflicts can be divided into several components: “between individuals, between individuals and groups, between groups, and between total organizations.” Each of the said two party conflicts has their own distinct characteristics which will be discussed later on (Montana and Charnov, 2000, p. 366).
Single-party conflicts usually happen when two opposing opinion occur within a single individual. In this manner, the individuals involved in this situation are having conflicts with their own sense of values and with that of the expectations of the organizations. At other times, such conflict may arise when the individual is presented with different choices of actions with negative results or the decision on what methodology to apply in order to attain the goals set by the organization (Montana and Charnov, 2008).
Conflict between individuals
It is a common knowledge that organizations are a collection of individuals. Therefore, it should be regarded that the most basic form of conflicts occurs between individuals. Traditionally, conflict between individuals is contemplated by many as the result of differences in personality. However, contemporary view of such situation is viewed as the end result of difference in the roles assigned to each individual and not the personalities of the involved individuals (Montana and Charnov, 2000).
Conflicts between individuals and groups
Group behavior and the development of organizational culture contribute to the rise of conflicts between individuals and groups. Once group behavior takes place in a work place, a company’s organizational culture evolves. In this sense, the individual who does not agree with the norms and behavior practiced by a certain group or when the individual is not comfortable with the values incorporated within the corporate culture, it is more likely that the said individual will be in conflict with a certain group or the entire organization (Montana and Charnov, 2000).
Conflict between groups
The said groups in the organizational context may pertain to departments or teams. The conflict between each group is said to be inevitable due to factors like the competition for resources and the difference in the managerial styles of the leaders of each group necessary for operation effectiveness the said departments (Montana and Charnov, 2008).
Such form of conflict may appear between different business organizations that are competing for the same goal. Take for example the US free enterprise, such form of system allows vigorous competition regulated by each state and local governments. Organizations that are not able to compete effectively and efficiently may suffer financially which could lead to eventual loss. By then, the said companies will be acquired by other successful business organizations and from there conflict may arise (Montana and Charnov, 2008).
Once an organization is able to recognize the source of conflict and the type of conflict that had arise, the said organization is then establish conflict management techniques that will resolve the issues within the organization. There are different forms of conflict management techniques. These includes: (1) Avoidance-a conflict management technique which includes non-attention, partial or total seclusion of the involved parties in order to limit interactions. (2) Smoothing- this form of conflict management is focused in achieving harmony between the disputants.
Likewise, this process treats the issue in a superficial manner. Some example of smoothing is the complete denial of the existence of the problem. (3) Dominance or power intervention- a conflict management technique where there is solution imposition by the higher management. (4) Compromise- is a strategy that involves resolution where part of each disputant’s position is satisfied. (5) Confrontation- such form of conflict management involves frank discussion of the causes and type of conflict in order to achieve a resolution that is in the best interest of both parties but “that may be at the expense of one or all of the conflicting parties.”
Confrontation is said to be the most effective form of conflict management strategy (Monatana and Charnov, 2008, p. 365). Additionally, one form of conflict management is the recognition of conflict as an opportunity for the conflicting parties to clarify expectations, build cohesiveness and create a problem solving atmosphere (Potter and Frank, 1998).
Conflict in any types of situation can be discouraging. Whatever position one will dispute a single outburst can lead to unwanted results. In this regard, it is important that proper conflict management should be practiced in order to resolve issues. Without the proper understanding and management of conflicts the possibility of its augmentation is high, and when this happen attempts to resolve the issue is nearly impossible.
Conflict management. (2008). Education and training unit. Retrieved November 14, 2008 from http://www.etu.org.za/toolbox/docs/building/conflict.html#what. Montana, P. J. and Charnov, B. H. (2000). Management. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series. Potter, B. A. and Frank, P. (1996). From conflict to cooperation: How to mediate a dispute. Berkeley, CA: Ronin Publishing.