Conflict occurs in situations in which people are interdependent, seek
different outcomes, favor different methods to the same end, or perceive
others are interfering with their ability for rewards or resources. A
person's behavior in conflict situations can be described by two basic
dimensions-assertiveness and cooperation. Assertiveness is the extent to
which the team member attempts to satisfy his own concerns. Cooperation
is the team members attempt to satisfy the other person's concerns.
There are five specific methods of dealing with conflict using these two
dimensions: competing, collaborating, compromising, avoiding, and
accommodating. Each one of us has a tendency for one or more behavior
styles depending on the situation.
When teams form, there will be
conflict. Any time there is more than one person, you will have
conflict. How do you handle conflict?
Understanding the style
with which you are comfortable is important when you are dealing with
conflict with one person or in a group. For example, if avoidance is how
you deal with conflict, when it arises, you will shrink back, saying to
yourself, "I don't want to do this." Your thoughts might go like, "It's
bad enough when it happens with my spouse, but I don't have to do it in
Keep in mind that there are times when every one of
these behaviors will appear in each of us. For example, we would not
have sports without competitive conflict-football, baseball, basketball,
hockey, golf. People get a charge out of this type of win/lose
competition. Each behavior has value, depending on what you need in a
Conflict has value. If you discourage conflict,
you will have trouble building good teams. If everyone always agrees, we
go along and it's boring and predictable. But what if you don't want
yelling, screaming and hitting? That kind of conflict scares me. It
reminds me of my childhood. But, when we talk about conflict, we are
really talking about our differences. Our differences are who we are.
Knowing that each person is different allows us to go into a group or
team with the understanding that everyone will have different opinions
and thoughts. But if we think everyone is the same, we will be really
disappointed and hurt when someone differs from us.
We each have
the responsibility to be aware of the differences and uniqueness in each
of us. Conflict is good. Be open to differences. Until each of us can
say, "Tell me what you think; let me hear what you think; and, why do
you believe what you think," then the conflict will continue to be
competing. Using inquiry and questions to find out more about the other
person will give us understanding and compassion.
Teams that have
a good understanding of conflict management work effectively and learn
to trust others. These people work together effectively in other
subgroups, are more task oriented, demonstrate increased satisfaction,
and work toward better decisions. "The Art of Managing...How to Build a
Better Workplace and Relationships" helps you define your behavior in