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Examining Conflict Styles: How Do You Manage Conflict? Renee A. Meyers, Ph.D. Department of Communication, UWM Colloquium MCW February 13, 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "Examining Conflict Styles: How Do You Manage Conflict? Renee A. Meyers, Ph.D. Department of Communication, UWM Colloquium MCW February 13, 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 Examining Conflict Styles: How Do You Manage Conflict? Renee A. Meyers, Ph.D. Department of Communication, UWM Colloquium MCW February 13, 2008

2 Typical View of Conflict  Most people view conflict as difficult and unpleasant Competitive Emotional Results in decreased communication Misperception and bias Rigid positions Magnifies differences, minimizes similarities Escalates issues and problems

3 Everyday Conflict  Conflict is everyday occurrence Disagreement over procedures Disagreement over ideas Disagreement over needs

4 Alternative View of Conflict  Assumptions about conflict Conflict is comprehensible social process Conflict management skills can be learned; good conflict managers are not born, but made Conflict management skills improve through learning, training, and practice Conflict management is problem solving that involves both advocacy and attention to relationships

5 Everyday Conflict Goals and Objectives  Understand own conflict management style  Learn when your style works best  Introduce integrative model for conflict management

6 Understanding Conflict Management Strategies Label the columns on the questionnaire:  Row I: Items 1, 4, etc – Collaborative Style  Row II: Items 3, 7, etc – Avoidant Style  Row III: Items 8, 10, etc – Competitive Style  Row IV: Items 2, 12, etc – Accommodating Style  Row V: Items 5, 9, etc – Compromising Style

7 Conflict Management Styles High Low High AccommodatingCollaborative AvoidanceCompetitive Compromise Concern for other (cooperativeness)

8 Examining Styles  Complete handout to determine how one communicates in each style Avoidant Competitive Accommodating Compromising Collaborative

9 Styles in Scenario  What style(s) are Mary and Jim using in the conflict scenario?  Are these appropriate? If you were a conflict management specialist, what would you suggest to Jim and Mary?

10 When To Use Each Style  When might each of the styles be most useful? Avoidant Competitive Accommodating Compromising Collaborative

11 Employing Strategies  Avoiding When issue is trivial When potential disruption outweighs the benefits of resolution To let people cool down and regain perspective

12 Employing Strategies  Competitive—advocate own position On issues vital to company welfare, and you know you are right Against people who will take advantage of noncompetitive behavior When you are on equal status with other person(s)

13 Employing Strategies  Accommodating When you find you are wrong—to allow a better position to be heard, and to show reasonableness To build social credits for later issues When harmony and stability are paramount To minimize loss when you are outmatched and losing

14 Employing Strategies  Compromising To achieve temporary settlements To arrive at expedient solutions under time pressure When opponents of equal power are committed to mutually exclusive goals

15 Employing Strategies  Collaborative When both sets of concerns are too important to be compromised To merge insights from people of different perspectives To gain commitment by incorporating concerns into a consensus To work through relational issues that have interfered with relationship development

16 Integrative Model for Conflict Management 1.Recognize the value of the relationship 2.Narrow to one issue 3.Neutralize defensiveness and set up integrative framework 4.Echo and explain “stories” 5.Develop a workable solution 6.Implement plan and be accountable

17 Planning for Integrative Conflict Management  What is the primary issue?  What is your story? What do you want? Where is your story weak, vulnerable, unreasonable? What other options do you have?  What is the other person’s story? What will this person want? What are their alternatives? What additional information do you need to understand their position?  What are the connections between the stories? What will be the major differences? Where will you, and the other party, become most defensive? What are the possible benefits to both parties?

18 Integrative Model for Conflict Management  Start by recognizing the value of the relationship: I wanted to talk to you today because I would like us to continue to work together effectively...  I wanted to talk to you about this because I would appreciate your help making my clinic successful...  I wanted to talk to you because I value your friendship...

19 Integrative Model for Conflict Management  N arrow to one issue I want to talk about the assignment of residents. I hope that we can figure out something that works for both of us. OR I want to talk about how we manage our differences BUT NOT BOTH!!  Discussing everything “and the kitchen sink” is not productive. Only leads to greater defensiveness.

20 Integrative Model for Conflict Management  N eutralize defensiveness and set up integrative framework—working together toward goal I really would like it if we could figure out a way to provide enough residents for my clinic. I feel like I can’t get the work done well otherwise.  Use “we” language as much as possible  Use “I” language instead of “you” language

21 Integrative Model for Conflict Management  How to say: YOU never give me enough residents  It feels to me like I never have enough residents to do the job well YOU always go behind my back to the chair  I would prefer if we could work out our difference between us before we have to get the chair involved YOU’RE so dumb, stupid, dense, incompetent...  I think it would help if we both understood each other’s positions

22 Integrative Model for Conflict Management  Get Both Stories on the Table Ask the other person to explain their story/viewpoint:  Jim: It feels like I never have enough residents for my clinic. I think it is an excellent opportunity for residents, and I would like them to get this opportunity. I feel like I just can’t do justice to the clinic if I never have enough residents. Echo back this person’s story (as you understand it) and then explain your story/viewpoint:  Mary: I can see that you are very committed to your clinic and to the education of the residents. It is hard sometimes to know ahead of time how many residents can be assigned. I have many requests and sometimes I can’t honor all of them

23 Integrative Model for Conflict Management  Is there a solution, or are there solutions, that would fit both parties’ needs regarding the resident assignment problem? On rotational basis, clinics get first request Revisit resident assignment policy to see if changes should be made Determine minimum and maximum of each clinic, and seek to provide minimum number first

24 Integrative Model for Conflict Management  Implement plan and be accountable Make sure to check up periodically (or within a set time frame) to make sure the solution is working (or still working).

25 Behavior of Skilled Conflict Managers  Appreciative Moves Appreciate other person’s situation— solicit his/her story and views  Encourage the other person to elaborate  Respect the other person’s objections— anticipate them and recognize them yourself Appreciate other person’s feelings  Pay attention to undercurrents  Pay attention to nonverbal cues

26 Behavior of Skilled Conflict Managers  Appreciate the other person’s ideas Respond to the other person’s ideas—suspend judgment, and consider ideas Link the other person’s ideas with yours  Appreciate the other person’s face Show respect for the other person Make it easy for the other person to retreat  Appreciate the solution that has been made, and review it with other party at end of conflict session

27 Where Have We Been Today?  Understand own conflict management style  Learn when your style works best  Introduce integrative model for conflict management


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