Max Lucado gave us a quote “Conflict is inevitable. Combat is optional”. What he meant is that conflict itself is not inherently negative; how we manage and resolve it determines its impact. Humans have countless emotions and a few of them give birth to conflict. Every day’s hassles to survive, thrive, compete, feel empowered, feel loved, or even feel valued can simply result in a difference of opinion even in the workplace. Thus, many organisations are realizing the value of corporate training programs that improve the soft skills of their employees.
But, first, let’s understand what is truly a conflict.
Conflict can be defined as a clash between two or more parties with differing interests, opinions, or needs. It’d be safe to say that no two people can be expected to agree on everything, all the time. As a result, we humans see conflicts as discouraging, condescending, hurtful, or even terrifying! Sometimes, a conflict situation may have a perceived threat, influenced by our nature, experiences, values or beliefs. If we manage to control our emotions, there’s a high chance we may never have to put ourselves or anyone in a stressful conflicted situation.
Cause of Conflict:
It is important to note that conflicts often have multiple causes, and understanding these underlying factors is crucial for effective conflict management and resolution. Several factors contribute to organizational conflicts.
1. Communication Issues: Miscommunication or lack of effective communication is a common cause of conflict. Poorly conveyed messages, misunderstandings, or misinterpretations can lead to conflicts and escalate tensions.
2. Differences in Values and Beliefs: Conflicts often arise from differences in values, beliefs, and cultural backgrounds. When individuals or groups have contrasting perspectives on important issues, clashes can occur.
3. Scarce Resources: Competition for limited resources, such as money, power, or opportunities, can lead to conflicts. When resources are scarce, people may feel threatened or unfairly treated, triggering disputes.
4. Conflicting Goals: Conflicts often emerge when individuals or groups have incompatible goals. When different parties pursue conflicting objectives, such as personal interests versus organizational goals, tensions can arise.
5. Power Struggles: Power imbalances or struggles for authority and control can fuel conflicts. When one party seeks dominance or tries to exert power over others, it can lead to resistance and conflict.
6. Organizational Changes: Changes within organizations, such as restructuring, layoffs, or new policies, can disrupt the equilibrium and create conflicts. People may resist changes that affect their roles, status, or job security.
7. Personality Clashes: Conflicts can arise due to incompatible personalities or personal differences. When individuals have contrasting communication styles, work approaches, or values, friction can occur.
8. Unresolved Past Issues: Unresolved conflicts from the past can resurface and escalate tensions in the present. Lingering resentments or unaddressed grievances can contribute to ongoing conflicts.
9. Lack of Trust: When trust is lacking among individuals or groups, conflicts are more likely to occur. Suspicion, skepticism, or a history of broken trust can hinder cooperation and lead to conflicts.
10. External Factors: External factors, such as economic conditions, political instability, or societal pressures, can influence and escalate conflicts. Socioeconomic disparities, cultural clashes, or global events can all contribute to conflicts.
By addressing these root causes, individuals and organizations can implement appropriate strategies to navigate conflicts constructively and foster positive outcomes. Effective conflict management fosters understanding, promotes growth, and strengthens relationships. In fact, some effective corporate training programs help reduce employee conflicts. So, let’s find out how to manage and resolve conflicts among individuals.
1. Conquer Communication: Open and honest communication is the cornerstone of conflict management. However, if it is delayed, it can lead to resentment later. Do not sit silent for too long. Be active and talk directly with the person creating the conflict. Remember to be assertive while discussing. Often, we become either too aggressive or passive due to suppressed emotions. Clear and constructive dialogue helps parties understand each other’s perspectives and find common ground.
2. Emotional Intelligence: As a part of soft skills, understanding and managing one’s emotions and recognizing the emotions of others helps in controlling impulsive reactions and promotes empathy and understanding. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and listen to their perspectives actively and with empathy. These actions will promote mutual understanding to reach conclusions easily.
3. Be open to Criticism: Sometimes, individuals are too sensitive to receive feedback. What they forget is that they are part of a system which may require them to improve with time. While receiving feedback, try to acknowledge constructive criticism related to your job or even characteristics that impact your work. Keeping an open mind will foster growth and a chance to improve your performance at work.
4. Message Delivery: Our tone and choice of words may impact the message we want to convey. The conflict can become worse if we sound a lot more intimidating than we should be. In such scenarios, try changing the way we ask a question to another person. For example, instead of asking ‘Why are you not punctual? you can ask- I’m curious to understand your reasons for arriving late at work. The latter sounds more empathetic.
Last but not least, follow the below diagram to understand the factors that come under your control and beyond your control.