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Whether it’s what projects the company should take on, power struggles, or differences in employee personalities, conflict is something that cannot be avoided. It is important that managers and employees understand how to deal with conflict in a healthy manner and how to work together to find solutions to problems that arise. Every person has their own unique approaches to handling conflict, and I am no different. There are different types of conflict, so there are different approaches to try and solve it.
Cognitive conflict is the most positive type of conflict, where there is difference in opinion or decisions, while affective conflict is based more on emotion and can be more detrimental. For both types of conflict, I like to use the dialectic. I want both sides to be able to sit down, and help everyone understand the pros and cons of each alternative. After all sides make their case, the group can together choose the best course of action based on the information presented. If there are zero or few conflicting opinions, often times I like to use devil’s advocacy to ensure people understand the disadvantages of all ideas and avoid blindly making a decision.
The most common form of approaches I use is compromising. In compromising, both sides have to surrender part of their idea so that the group can come to a more collective decision. I am of the belief that multiple people can usually come up with more ideas and solutions than one person working alone, thus finding the best possible one. When I was the philanthropy chairman of my fraternity, my committee was split right down the middle on the design of the t-shirts we were selling. One side wanted a blue shirt with green letters and red letters, while the other side wanted a white shirt with purple and pink letters. We ultimately decided on a white shirt with green and red letters, and both sides were happy with the decision. They had to give up part of their shirt design in order to find the solution, and that final design was the best one that we could have come up with.
The least common form of approach I use to handle conflict is competing. I don’t have a dictator-like personality and I don’t care if I get every single thing I want all the time. In my experiences where I have worked under a boss or manager, I was usually much lower on the company totem pole than they are so I just listen to what they tell me, even if I disagree with it. In instances where I have been in charge of other people, most of the time our group came to a collective opinion on how to solve our conflicts. I wanted to show them I respected their hard work and commitment, as well as their opinions by giving them a voice in the decision-making process. I ultimately had the final say, but more often than not the rest of the group was on board.
There are several things I can do to become effective at conflict management. I need to develop a solid personal structure for handling conflict management that can help me make decisions in a timely manner. It’s important to show respect towards every group member and allow them to voice their concerns and give feedback. I can improve at being more vocal and confident about my opinions and not just going along with what the group is thinking. I can do a better job avoiding emotions and making and more unbiased decisions. In conclusion, there are several aspects of my own personal conflict management approaches that I like, and others that I need to work and improve on.
Conflict is an inevitable part of daily life, and it is crucial that people learn how to manage it in a constructive manner while figuring out what approaches best suit them.
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