Conflict Management

Introduction

This paper will discuss the interpersonal challenge of facing a conflict. Research and class materials will be used to formulate ideas and suggestions. This research paper aims to discuss the impact of conflicts, the role of social intelligence and leadership in facing conflicts and to suggest helpful approaches in addressing conflicts. Moreover, conflict management and its relationship to SI and Leadership are discussed below.

Introduction of the Interpersonal Challenge

Leadership is something that can be considered as a tough task to do. Even though it yields many privileges, it is also filled with challenges as it comes with many responsibilities. Again, being a leader is not that easy. The challenges are often interpersonal which means more work on the collaboration of people. There are different interpersonal challenges in leadership but this research will focus on conflict management. Conflict is considered to be a normal part of the healthy relationship (Katz, & Lawyer, 1985). It is due to human nature that every person has thoughts and beliefs regarding certain things different from others' views. So, it is a common occurrence when two or more people do not agree on the same thing. Resolving conflict is an important issue as a collision can do a lot of harm to the relationship. Conflict management, as an interpersonal challenge, can be considered the hardest challenge as the right approach needs to be used and good and fair decisions need to be made. Social intelligence means understanding how people behave in any manner (Conflict, 1976). It is an ability to foresee possibilities of how someone would react. In conflict management, a thorough understanding of the situation and a fair judgment is very important. A good leader certainly needs to possess social intelligence in order to properly assess conflicts.

Results of the Research

There are different approaches that can be used with respect to conflict management. First one is based on the Albrecht’s SPACE theory. SPACE stands for situational awareness, presence, authenticity, clarity, and empathy. Situational awareness is described as the ability to read social situations. This is indeed very helpful, especially in conflict management because knowing the real social situation will help the leader to know how to react to the conflict that has aroused. Awareness in conflict management means putting out the fire when it is still small. Leaders should not let any conflict to grow bigger as it might get out of hand. Presence refers to how others see or perceive you. Your presence as a leader will always keep your subordinates aware that you are their acting supervisor and counselor and they will know who to obey and to whom to turn at the time when conflict arises. Third word, authenticity, means honesty with oneself and others. Being honest is a virtue and one needs not only to show his/her own credibility but also to respect others as well as yourself. Taking an honest approach in decision-making, while solving the conflict, is a wise thing to do. Clarity means to communicate clearly and efficiently with others. Clear communication leads to clear understanding. Conflicts most probably yield due to poor communication, thus clarity in communication will help to resolve conflict much faster. Lastly, empathy is the ability to understand others. The secret for a successful relationship within a group is in the ability to empathize with the feelings of others. Empathizing simply shows that you as a leader care for your members. During a conflict situation, a leader can actually handle it by empathizing with both sides when the conflict occurs. He/she should learn how to understand the others and to make fair judgments at the same time. Showing empathy is not just showing that you do your job but that you love your subordinates. Another leadership principle applicable when facing a conflict is making sound and timely decisions. This means that a leader should promptly make a decision in order to solve the conflict. Using good problem solving, decision-making, and planning tools will help the leader to know what to do at times when conflict arises.

Albrecht’s SPACE theory can probably serve as a good approach in assessing the conflict. The SPACE theory breaks down into pieces the challenge that the conflict brings in order to suggest solutions. Afterwards, conflict is best addressed when the framework of space is properly utilized by the acting leader. Also, adhering to the principle of making sound, timely decisions would result to a decrease of chances of another conflict since the leader may know how to prevent the conflict. Each conflict can be easily and correctly addressed and will be prevented before it transforms into a major problem.

Impact of the Relational/Interpersonal Challenge

Interpersonal challenge, indeed, creates a big impact. Again, the focus here is the challenge of facing conflicts. As I have mentioned above, conflict is one of the toughest interpersonal challenges. It affects leaders in both negative and positive ways. The negative impacts are the loss of patience, degraded responsible behavior or ignorance and depression. Conflicts may let a leader lose his patience in managing the situation which will negatively reflect on all his subordinates. In addition, conflict might degrade leader’s responsible behavior. When a leader faces a conflict, he might forget about his leadership and start ignoring the situation and if this happens, everyone might lose their hope. Last one is depression (Raider, Coleman, & Gerson, 2000). Conflict can result to insensitivity if a leader doesn’t know how to control it. Losing the control over this situation may put the leader into depression. On the other hand, there are also positive sides to the conflict. These are awakened drives, improved relationship among the team members and enhanced leadership. A leader might arouse all his drives if he properly addresses a conflict. With all his learning, he can probably make a move that would help the team as well as their leader. Next, when facing a conflict a leader will have to gain a deep understanding of his subordinates. On these grounds, they can probably build a good relationship with each other and strengthen their team. Lastly, the conflict can result to a better leadership. If a leader has not resolved a conflict situation, no learning and no improvement will come, but if he/she has handled the situation, this will bring along a valuable experience on how to lead the subordinates.

The impact of conflict on my future will also be just the same as the one for the leaders. I do hope to become a leader someday. Moreover, I hope to approach the leadership with increased understanding, increased group cohesion and improved self-knowledge. Increased understanding is the best impact of the conflict that has a long-term effect. The discussion while resolving the conflicts helps to increase people’s awareness of the situation. Increased group cohesion is something that is developed while solving a conflict. Team members eventually develop strong mutual respect, while conflict is being resolved. Finally yet importantly, the conflict management heavily influences self-knowledge improvement. Resolving conflicts helps the individuals to examine their goals; it also helps them to understand which of the goals are the most important (Hamlin, & Jennings, 2007).

Recommended Strategies

There are different approaches to resolve a conflict. First one is called ‘listening before talking’. In resolving the conflict, the most important step is to listen to the employee first. All parties should be given equal opportunity to express their feelings and opinions. The essence of listening to each party is a sign of respect to what other people say. Listening is a part of patience that no matter how your mind tries to reject what you hear, your heart is still open for letting other people show their feelings. People who listen will be listened (De Dreu, 1992). ‘One mouth rule’ should be observed so that everyone would understand each other. During the time we listen, we get in touch with our own particular necessities and feelings and to those of other individuals. In addition, listening fortifies us, makes us grow, and makes it easier for others to understand us when it is our turn to talk. Another technique is ‘gathering the group’: the responsibility of the leader is to gather all of the relevant people or groups who are involved in the conflict. Everyone should be given the chance to talk in front of other members. Through the convening of the group meeting a better solution can be achieved. Each member as a part of the group has the right to know what their group is facing. Again, conflicts are best resolved when all the parties involved try to do it.

Third rule to be observed is ‘do not postpone conflict resolutions’. Conflict should be addressed immediately. Otherwise, if the conflict becomes bigger, it can have a disastrous impact on everyone. A careful consideration from the leader is needed. A good leader should know how to react to conflict immediately. Small conflicts should not be ignored because as time passes by, there is a chance they will grow into serious problems. Moreover, an immediate response is a proper approach (Thomas, 1992). If growing conflicts are addressed quickly and correctly, their negative impacts, most probably, will be hindered. It is also the same with focusing on the present situation. If one is holding feelings of resentment rooted in the past detestations, his/her capability to see the reality of the present scenario will be challenged. Instead of looking into the past, one should think of things that can be done here-and-now in order to take care of the issue. Lastly, it is important to promote team work: motivation and encouragement are the most powerful tools. Staff should be informed that the company’s goal could be achieved by working on the successful projects which requires team work. Moreover, it is best to make conflict resolution the necessity instead of scoring or ‘being correct’. Maintaining and reinforcing the relationship, as opposed to ‘scoring’ the contention, might be the first necessity. The leader should be deferential to the other individual and his or her perspective.

Conclusion

The leaders are often faced with the challenge of resolving conflicts. The conflict resolution skills help the leader to deal with these situations in a more efficient manner. Therefore, conflicts between both parties can be easily resolved and vanish quite fast. Conflict in the working environment is disastrous to effective teamwork. When supervised in the wrong way, genuine and true contrasts between individuals can lead to a clash, bringing out scenarios where co-operation breaks down and the group's mission is at risk. To resolve such problems one needs to adopt a positive approach to clash determination, where talk is congenial, non-fierce and centers is on the issues instead of on people. When this is done, then, with the assumption that individuals listened carefully and investigate realities, issues and possible results correctly, conflict can often be resolved adequately. To conclude, conflict is unavoidable when a team that works together includes diverse individuals and their unique points of view on situations. Contrasts in necessities, objectives, and personal qualities are all potential triggers for clash. By carrying the conflict out beyond all detectable inhibitions and affirming that there is a shared issue, it will be insured that with the means of honesty and respect the conflict will be resolved.

Successful conveyance is basic and every group might as well practice animated listening to incorporate listening with your eyes and ears and to have the ability to embrace all aspects of what is being said. The clear explanations behind the conflict ought to be examined in order to discover the underlying explanation for distinctions. Rather than accusing each other, all considerations and thoughts ought to be perceived neutral. When the group avoids adequate conveyance, trading off is another methodology for group conflict resolution. The point when this plan is utilized with the purpose of conflict resolution, every party involved must abandon something that he/she needs however every individual will additionally receive something in exchange. This is a win/win outcome on the grounds that every party will get something he/she was looking for. Risky contrasts ought to be disposed of right on time as could be expected under the circumstances. The more extended conflict is, the more difficult it is to find a solution. Resolutions ought to be reached together and all options should be examined. Whatever methodology is taken, assuming that it is well thought out, it will, at any rate, start to move the conflict closer to resolution.

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