Conflict is common in the workplace and results from competing needs and goals. A conflict is resolved effectively will increase understanding, group cohesion and improve self-knowledge while the converse can result in interpersonal differences, breakdown of teams, wasted talents, pessimism and recrimination (Masters & Albright, 2002). An understanding of two conflict theories can aid effective conflict management.
The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) consists of various conflicts styles with every person having a preferred conflict resolution style and every style having its most applicable situation (Johnson and Keddy, 2010). To begin with, the competitive style is preferred by decisive and emphatic persons and is important when making urgent decisions and defending unpopular action although it creates resentment and dissatisfaction in the affected. The collaborative style brings together all parties, finds a common ground and is appropriate when consolidating viewpoints and where there is a history of conflicts. The compromising style results in partial satisfaction because each party yields some ground and is relevant where the conflict is costly, when disputants are equally strong or when there is a deadline to beat. In accommodating style one party willingly gives up a claim for the sake of the other and is applicable where one party has greater stakes, when peace is paramount and when the accommodating party’ favor may be returned later. The avoiding style implies shunning the conflict by either delegating decisions or accepting other’s decisions. It is applicable where the issue in contention is inconsequential, when the avoider senses defeat or when a more competent person can resolve the conflict. Whatever style is used parties must appreciate the problem and reach an amicable and respectful resolution that also restores broken relationships.
The second theory is the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) Approach (Manktelow & Carlson, 2013). Its basic tenet is the respect of individual differences and avoidance of entrenchment of fixated positions. It is based on a number of rules the first being the prioritizing of relationships through mutual respect, courtesy and control of emotions under all circumstances. The second rule asserts that people and issues must be separated by recognizing that behind every conflicting party are genuine underlying reasons. Thirdly, conflicting parties must take cognizance of the interests that are represented by the other person(s) and which inform the positions taken. Fourthly, listening is crucial to resolving a conflict and should form the basis for reactions by all parties. Fifthly, the conflicting parties must establish the objective and clear issues which will influence the final outcome. Lastly, all parties must be willing to mutually come up with available options and acknowledge the possibility of a third option.
Johnson, C & Keddy, J. (2010). Managing Conflict at Work: Understanding and Resolving
Conflict for Productive Working Relationships. London: Kogan Page Ltd.
Manktelow, J & Carlson, A. (2013 March 25). Resolving Conflicts Rationally and Effectively.
Retrieved from http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_81.htm
Masters, M. F., & Albright, R. R. (2002).The Complete Guide to Conflict Resolution in the
Workplace. New York: AMACOM.