Workplace Conflict Resolution:

By Javill Byron

Here we go again!

This is one of the hardest things at any place of employment. This will be a very controversial topic today. Let’s break it down to its core. Workplace conflict is the perceived diversion of interest between people or an organization. It’s a belief that the aims of the parties involved are incompatible in some way. If you put more than one person in the same place as the other, conflict will be a normal part of the equation and will cause a decrease in moral, decreased productivity, and increases in turnover. Several researchers have estimated that mangers and senior employees spend an average of 25% of their time resolving some type of workplace conflict.

The causes of this conflict are vast yet very conquerable. The causes include but are not limited to the following:

1) Communication- we all have different communication styles based on childhood, upbringing, learnt traits etc.; and this can lead to misunderstandings between employees or those employees and their respective employers. Without communication, resentment builds and the problem goes unspoken and sometimes unnoticed by several important people that should be working towards a solution. This lack of understanding because of poor communication creates a workplace with only individuals instead of a workplace of a team setting.

2) Different Interests- This is a major one because employees and organizations will always “fight” for personal or organizational goals while sometimes ignoring the goals of each other. Many times we are saying the same things just in a different way, but we never take the time to analyze and listen. You are all there to move yourselves, the company, and your family to a better place in order to continue the life you currently have. The underlying interest is the same if we look at it positively.

3) Available resources- sometimes there is only that one promotion to go around or your boss only has that one spot for a one-on-one this week. Employees feel that they have to compete for available resources. This competition also causes resentment which can cause conflict. Conflict arises because of the perceived threat to future positioning or a future breakthrough in your personal plan of achievement.

4) The Personality Clash- we simply don’t like someone as our personalities don’t really gel. All work environments are made up of differing personalities and we must understand that going into it. Unless we can understand and accept that there will be different approaches to the way everyone breaks down and approaches work and specific tasks, conflict will arise.

5) Poor Work Performance- Many times if you have conflict, you may need to accept that you are simply not performing well. Poor performance creates a backlog of stress on other employees and the organization. If several people in an organization are not performing up to par but go unaddressed; conflict will occur as the other members notice and become resentful.

Conflict resolution would involve a few things. You will need to clearly state to the people, person or organization what you are feeling while accepting that, of course, there will be differences in opinions and perceptions of the root causes. It will at least force that other person or entity to think more about the perception. Make it known that you are there to solve the conflict and state why it’s important for it to be solved. Don’t make personal attacks and stick only to the issue at hand. If you need to take a break while talking just to ensure that nothing is said that could permanently ruin the relationship, it would be in your best interest to do so. When you get a chance over the next few days; please take a look at the Thomas Kilmann model for conflict resolution. I like this model because of the dimensions it presents; assertiveness and cooperation. The model strives to measure a person’s behavior or lack of behavior in certain situations. Assertiveness would lend thought to the extent to which someone would go to satisfy his or her own agenda. Cooperative traits would lend thoughts to the extent to which someone would go to satisfy the other persons concerns. Then it gets into 5 distinct ways that a person could react. The five ways are as follows: Competing where the goal is to definitely win, Cooperating where the goal is a shared interest for a mutually agreeable solution, Compromising where you meet somewhere in the middle, Avoidance traits would be to hide from the conflict, and lastly Accommodating at which time we would surrender many desires that we want simply to make the big picture work.

It’s an interesting model that can be used both at work and at home to understand where you are on the continuum of resolution and in how to deal with tough conflict. Give it a try and see where your personality falls based on the model.

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Javill Byron is responsible for this content and currently serves as the Director of Public Safety and Emergency planning for Top Shot Firearms Academy in Miami. Javill Byron heads up the consulting division for active shooter training, firearms related skills and weapon retention with an emphasis on defensive tactics. More information about Javill Byron can be found by going to topshotmiami.com, javillbyron.com, or javillbyron.org.

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