Conflict situations are inevitable in our daily social living. Conflict is a phenomenon that is almost always just around the corner. Although the word conflict has an intimidating connotation that makes it highly unwelcome in our lives, it is not always the case. Santos (1999) claimed that conflicts are oftentimes necessary, especially in an organization where interaction among stakeholders is important. Conflicts can also be deemed helpful when ideas are challenged and creativity is given an opportunity to emerge.
The Three Conflict Approaches
Any conflict situation may be approached in three ways: lose-lose orientation, win-lose orientation, and win-win orientation.
The lose-lose orientation is the kind of conflict resolution where both parties end up in the losing side. They end up in a situation where they are even worse off from where they started or from where either of them wanted to be. The win-lose orientation is where one party wins the negotiation while the other one loses. One walks out of the conflict happy and the other one walks out frustrated. The win-win orientation is where both parties gain something from the conflict. The negotiation ends with both of them happy and contented.
In all three orientations described above, a disagreement was present at the beginning. The disagreement, which defines the conflict, may be caused by a difference in thoughts or ideas about a particular issue. Due to the unique individuality of persons, it is highly possible that a single issue is looked at from different perspectives, different preferences, and different degrees of personal interest. Therefore, a conflict arises.
Another common factor among the three conflict situations is the inevitable presence of negotiation. Negotiation is a discussion between the involved parties that aims to resolve the conflict. Depending on the person's degree of insistence and ability to get what he wants, the conflict may end in any of the three situations.
My Personal Win-Win Experience
Living independently, away from parents, and having a roommate may be a source of great challenge through one's university years. My roommate is my school mate and my good friend as well. Everything between us usually goes smoothly until one issue of great importance tested our relationship.
I discovered one day that a folder of school files in my computer was missing. In my great frustration and bewilderment of how it could have happened, I told my roommate about it. She shared her sympathy for the loss of my hard-earned work but did not offer possible causes for their disappearance. Having had strong trust between us, I appreciated the sympathy and raised no suspicion of her being the culprit for the loss.
However, in another occasion, I saw her working on a class presentation she had to make. It unusually caught my attention because I recognized the presentation templates she was working on as those I myself tediously created and worked on. At that instant, I knew that the case of my missing files was solved. I could not harbor any dark thoughts for a long time and so I decided to confront her about it. It was difficult to start the confrontation because I knew the possible reactions I could get that could further complicate the situation. I had to prepare for the confrontation and put conscious efforts to let my rationality reign.
I carefully contrived a setting where we can objectively talk about the dilemma. I prepared myself to take a non-blaming disposition and allow free communication to transpire. I was straightforward about my thoughts and feelings while allowing her to speak her side. And true enough, she spoke, affirmed my thoughts, and offered sincere apology. She felt relieved and free to explain the circumstances that pushed her to do it. I validated her feelings but I was adamant that it cannot pass just like that, without any form of accountability.
She respected my position and was open for a negotiation. She offered that she would admit to her professor the partial plagiarism she made, accept whatever consequence it would have on her academic standing, and offer to revise and submit a more original work. I fully agreed to her amendment proposal knowing that it was a call of justice. I then told her that I would help her ease through the tight situation she was in. I willingly offered her all the services I can share just to make her situation lighter so long as such a thing of distrust will never happen again.
I believe we both emerged from the conflict in a win-win situation. We both felt relieved to have released our pent up emotions that were slowly destroying our friendship. I was paid back with her promise of a course of actions out of justice's sake. She got the assurance of my understanding and support of her situation. And we both made the pact of striving to do everything to guarantee a harmonious life together based on real trust between friends.
Thus, my experience taught me that a well-set communication is the key to getting out of a conflict situation in a win-win position.
Conflict Resolution Network (n.d.). CR skills create better work climates and more fulfilling relationships. CR Kit. Retrieved from http://www.crnhq.org/pages.php?pID=12#skill_1
Santos, E. T. (1999). Organization and management. Philippines: International Academy of Management and Economics.
Spangler, B. (2003, June). Win-win, win-lose, and lose-lose situations. Beyond Intractability. Retrieved from http://www.beyondintractability.org/bi-essay/win-lose