Monday, July 8, 2013

Tips for Resolving Workplace Conflict

What is conflict, really, how can it impact an organization and how can we resolve it more satisfactorily in the work place? David Dana in The Dana Measure of Financial Cost of Organizational Conflict (2001), suggests that “chronic unresolved conflict acts as a decisive factor in at least 50% of departures and that conflicts account for up to 90% of involuntary departures, with the possible exception of staff reductions due to downsizing and restructuring."

Conflict is defined by as "a state of disharmony between incompatible or antithetical persons, ideas, or interests; a clash.” Thus, conflict is a natural part of life and the work environment. Resolving and preventing workplace conflict from getting out of hand is a sizeable challenge that businesses and other organizations face and need to address on a regular basis. A number of ways exist in which we might address conflict at work, including ways that each of us might approach conflict in our own workplace.

According to communication researchers William Cupach, Daniel Canary, and Brian Spitzberg, there are five typical ways to address conflict.

Obliging (also known as accommodating) occurs when surrendering one's own conflict needs and wants (position) for the satisfaction of the other. This works when the relationship with the other party is more important than one’s conflict goal.

Avoiding is, essentially, the process of ignoring or glossing over the conflict topic or even denying that the conflict actually exists and, in some cases, leaving the scene of the conflict. While some folks like to use this as an immediate or temporary strategy, the conflict cannot be resolved by avoiding.

Integrating (also known as collaborating) occurs when people work together to find a situation that can satisfy mutual interests. With this strategy, individuals have a high concern for their own and for the other’s interests.