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Understanding and Resolving Conflict Mark Smallwood Brigham Young University.

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding and Resolving Conflict Mark Smallwood Brigham Young University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding and Resolving Conflict Mark Smallwood Brigham Young University

2 Agenda What is conflict? What is conflict’s role in business? Different views of conflict Kinds of conflict Stages of conflict resolution Methods of conflict resolution Group Exercise Review

3 What is Conflict? A process that begins when one party perceives that another party has negatively affected, or is about to negatively affect, something that the first party cares about.

4 A Few Questions Is conflict bad for business? What kind of conflict is seen in our business? Does this conflict help or hurt our performance?

5 Conflicts About Conflict’s Role Different Views –Traditional View –Human Relations View –Interactionist View

6 Different Views Traditional View –Conflict is bad! –Same as violence, destruction, irrationality

7 Different Views Human Relations View –It’s going to happen, so cope with it!

8 Different Views Interactionist View –Functional conflict is good for business and even encouraged –Functional vs. dysfunctional conflict

9 Kinds of Conflict Task Conflict –Low to moderate levels can be acceptable Process Conflict –Low levels can be acceptable Relationship Conflict –Almost always dysfunctional

10 The Conflict Process Four Stages –Potential opposition –Cognition and personalization –Behavior –Outcomes

11 The Conflict Process Stage 1 –Potential Opposition Factors are present that can lead to conflict –Communication –Structure –Personal Variables

12 The Conflict Process Stage 2 –Cognition and Personalization Awareness of conditions in stage 1 The conditions cause some sort of frustration

13 The Conflict Process Stage 3 –Behavior An action is done that frustrates another person’s interests The conflict becomes known to the differing parties and to others


15 The Conflict Process Stage 4 –Outcomes Functional Outcomes Dysfunctional Outcomes

16 Conflict Resolution Even in the interactionist view of conflict, conflict can become dysfunctional. At this point, someone may need to step in and help resolve the conflict.

17 Methods for Resolving Conflict Passive conflict resolution Win-win Structured problem solving Confronting conflict Choosing a winner Selecting a better alternative Preventing Conflict

18 Methods for Resolving Conflict Passive conflict resolution –Just ignore the conflict Win-win –Satisfy both side’s needs

19 Methods for Resolving Conflict Structured problem solving –Gather data about the problem –Have a third party observer analyze the data and make an argument for one side –Mediation Confronting conflict –Listen the problem and help the parties resolve it

20 Methods for Resolving Conflict Choosing a winner –Choose the winner, then deal with the negative feelings between the two parties Selecting a better alternative –Choose an idea neither of the parties considered

21 Methods for Resolving Conflict Preventing conflict –“Skilled leaders use different techniques to create an environment that is relatively free of conflict…” (Foster)

22 Shea & Gould Law Firm “At its peak, the firm had 350 lawyers and played a leading role in New York politics, banking, real estate and sports” Closed its doors after not being able to resolve a conflict about the firms future

23 Let’s Try These Out! Split up in groups of three people Choose a conflict that could be faced in this organization Discuss how it would be handled using each of the methods listed previously

24 Let’s Try These Out! Describe your conflict What method would be best for handling your chosen situation? Would that method be best for all situations in this organization? What does everyone else think?

25 Summary Conflict can be good for a business When it isn’t good, the conflict must be resolved Different methods exist to resolve conflict No one method is best for any conflict

26 Bibliography Bacal, Robert. “Organizational Conflict - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.” Foster, S. Thomas. Managing Quality: An Integrative Approach. 2 nd ed., Pearson Education, Inc., 2004. pp. 325-329. Geyelin, Milo, Felsenthal, Edward. “Irreconcilable differences force Shea & Gould closure”. Wall Street Journal. (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: Jan 31, 1994. pg. B1. Robbins, Steven P. Essentials of Organizational Behavior. 8 th ed., Pearson Education, Inc., 2005. pp. 193-201. Thomas, K.W. “Conflict and Negotiation Processes in Organizations,” in M.D. Dunnette and L.M. Hough, Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 2 nd ed., vol. 3, pp. 651-717. Thomas, K.W., and R.H. Kilmann. Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. Sterling Forest, NY: Xicom, Inc., 1974.

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