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What is a conflict ? A conflict can be defined as a state

of open, often prolonged fighting, a battle or war.


Conflict situations are an important aspect of the workplace.

A conflict is a situation when the interests , needs goals
or values of involved parties interfere with one another. A
conflict is a common phenomenon in the workplace.
Different stakeholders may have different priorities i.e.
conflict may involve team members, departments projects,
organization and client organization needs vs. personal
needs. Often, a conflict is a result of perception. Is conflict
a bad thing ? Not necessarily.Often a conflict presents
opportunities for improvement. Therefor it is important to
understand and apply various resolution techniques.

According to Robert, M.(1982) Managing Conflict, he explains

the various conflict resolution techniques.

Forcing. (Competing)

An individual firmly pursues his or her own concerns

despite the resistance of the other person. This may
involve pushing one viewpoint at the expense of another
or maintaining firm resistance to another persons actions.
For instance:

In a certain situation when all other, less forceful

methods, dont work or are ineffective.

When you need to stand up for your own rights, resist

and pressure.

When a quick resolution is required and using force is

justified (in a life threatening situation, to stop an

Possible advantages of forcing:

May provide a resolution to a conflict.

Increases self-esteem and draws respect when firm

resistance or actions were a response to an aggression or

Some caveats of forcing:

May negatively affect your relationship with the opponent

in the long run.

Cannot take advantage of the strong sides of the other

sides position.

Smoothing. (Accommodating).

Also known as accommodating. Smoothing is

accommodating the concerns of the other people first of
all, rather than ones concerns.

Examples of when smoothing may be appropriate:

When it is important to provide a temporary relief from

the conflict or buy time until you are in a better position
to respond.

When the issue is not as important to you as it is to the

other person.

When you accept that you are wrong.

When you have no choice or when continued competition

would be detrimental.

Possible advantages of smoothing.

In some cases smoothing will help protect more interests

while giving up on some important ones.

Gives opportunity to reassess the situation from a different


Some caveats of smoothing.

There is a risk to be abused, i.e. the opponent may
constantly try to take advantage of your tendency toward
smoothing/ accommodating. Therefore it is important to
keep the right balance and this requires some skill.

May negatively affect your confidence in your ability to

respond to an aggressive opponent.

It makes it more difficult to transition to a win-win

solution in the future.


Also known as avoiding. This is when a person does not

pursue his or her own concerns or those of the opponent.
He or she does not address the conflict sidesteps,
postpones or simply withdraws.

When the issue is trivial and not worth the effort.

When it is not the right time or place to confront the


When you see no chance of getting your corncerns met

or you would have to put forth unreasonable efforts.

When you would have dealt with hostility.

When you are unable to handle the conflict (e.g. if you

are too emotionally involved or others can handle it

Possible advantages of withdrawing:

When the opponent is forcing / attempts aggression, you

may choose to withdraw and postpone your response until
you are in a more favourable circumstance for you to
push back.

Withdrawing is a low stress approach when the conflict is

Gives the ability/ time to focus on more urgent issues

Gives you time to prepare and collect information before

you act.

Some caveats of withdrawing.

May lead to weakening your position, not acting may be

interpreted as an agreement.

Using strategies without negatively affecting your position

requires certain skill and experience.

When multiple parties are involved, withdrawing may

negatively affect your relationship with a party that
expects your action.


Looks for an expedient and mutually acceptable solution

which partially satisfies both parties.

Examples of when compromise may be appropriate:

When the goals are moderately important and not worth

the use of more assertive

Or more involving approaches, such as forcing or


To reach temporary settlement on complex issues.

To reach expedient solutions on important issues.

When collaborating or forcing do not work.

Possible advantages of compromise:

Faster issue resolution. Compromising may be more

practical when time is a factor.

Can provide a temporary solution while still looking for a

win-win solution.
Lowers tension and stress resulting from the conflict.

Some caveats of using compromise.

May result in a situation when both parties are not

satisfied with outcome (lose-lose situation)

Does not contribute building trust in the long run.

May require close monitoring and control to ensure the

agreements are met.



People in conflict have a number of procedural options to

choose from to resolve their differences.Figure 1.1
illustrates some of these possibilities, which vary in terms
of the formality of the process, the privacy of the
approach, the people involved, the authority of the third
party, the type of decision that will result, and the amount
of coercion that is excercised by or on the disputing

Disagreements and problems can arise in almost any

relationship. The majority of disagreements are usually
handled informally. Initially, people may avoid each other
because they dislike the discomfort that accompanies
conflict, they do not consider the issue to be that
important, they lack the power to force a change, they do
not believe in a situation can be improved, or they are
not yet ready to negotiate.

When avoidance is no longer possible or tensions become

so strong that parties cannot let the disagreement
continue, they usually resort to informal problem-solving
discussions to resolve their differences.

Other than informal conversations, the most common way

to reach a mutually acceptable agreement is through
negotiation(Fisher and Ury, ;Shell 1999 ; Thompson, 2001).
Negotiation is a bargaining relationship between parties
who have a perceived or actual conflict of interest. The
participants voluntarily join in a temporary relationship
designed to educate each other about their needs and
interests, to exchange specific, or resolve less tangible
issues such as the form their relationship will take in the
future procedure by which problems are to be solved.

If negotiations are hard to initiate or have started and

reached an impasse, the parties may need some
assistance from a party who is outside of the dispute.
Mediation is an extension or elaboration of the negotiation
process that involves the intervention of an acceptable
third party who has limited or no authoritative decision
making power.


Is a private process in that the proceedings, and often

the outcome, are not open to public security. People often
select arbitration because of its private nature, and also
because it is more informal less expensive, than a judicial

Whittamore and Singson have both heard of arbitration

but reluctant to turn their problem over to a third party
before they are sure that they cannot resolve it
themselves Neither wants to risk an unfavourable decision.
In addition, Singson fears an external decision that might
erode the clinics prerogative to control the contract