Knowing the existence of conflict as well as managing it is essential in our personal and professional lives. A conflict occurs when two persons or entities have no common or similar ideologies or opinions which creates minor disagreement to heated confrontations between the two parties.
To better understand conflict, it is also important to know the root cause of it. There are four major sources of disagreements ranging from social, organizational, change, and external influences. Social or interpersonal source of struggle includes differences related to culture, gender, and language. Small talks within an organization is also a common interpersonal conflict. When conflict arise from organizational source, this means there are varying opinions regarding company structural concerns, people management styles, workload and reward system issues. Implementing a change is the third source of conflict. One can react differently when redundancy of roles will occur or streamlining responsibilities to cope with worldly and cost-effectivity trends. Lastly, the external environmental factors such as local and foreign economic transactions and political relationships can also be a source of conflict.
When we hear the word conflict the first thing comes into one’s mind is it is right away a negative situation, but in reality, a conflict can serve as a threat and an opportunity depending on the situation. On one hand, the existence of a conflict is an opportunity to learn new personal and professional strategies, boost one’s enthusiasm and improve one’s interpersonal skills and communication. On the other hand, a conflict can be a threat when it creates poor cultural environment, declines one’s motivation and social interactions, loses trust among two parties, and can also lead to serious mental anxieties.
In order to ensure uncovering the opportunities or benefits rather than the threats or bad outcomes of having a conflict, conflict management comes into picture. By having an asserting or cooperating behaviour, we may know the high or low importance of personal or other party’s concern. In handling conflicts, there are five different styles which are forcing, withdrawing, smoothing, compromising, and problem-solving. These strategies are also intertwined with the behaviours we foster. Different styles will be applicable depending on the given situation and, there are negative and positive outcomes in every strategy we take. When a swift decision is needed to be made and you have high concern about yourself, forcing style can be used. If you have low concern about yourself and about others and when the conflict can be considered small, withdrawal is appropriate. Smoothing is a good strategy when you have low concern about yourself and high concern about the other and when we know if we are in the disadvantage state or potential better situations with the other party exists. When we have moderate concern for both yourself and others, if both parties have willingness to take their parts without wasting further time and if the situation tells both have same level of power. Lastly, collaborating or problem-solving is best chosen when there is ample of period for resolution, trust has already been built, reaching an agreement is necessary and you have a high value for yourself and for others.