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What is Conflict Management? Definition, Styles & Strategies

Introduction to Conflict Management

Conflict management is a technique aimed at identifying and resolving difficulties in a fair, equitable, and prosperous manner. It comprises decreasing the negative impacts of arguments and improving the chances of a successful solution. 

Conflict management promotes learning and group outcomes, such as performance or effectiveness in an organisational context. Let’s explore the concept of “Conflict management”, which deals with various procedures for detecting, avoiding, and resolving difficulties at work.

Understanding Conflict: Definition and Types

Conflict is an altercation between individuals brought on by disparities in thought processes, attitudes, comprehension, interests, needs, and sometimes even perceptions. 

Conflict may take many forms, including task, intrapersonal, intergroup, and interpersonal. Intrapersonal conflict occurs inside an individual, intergroup conflict occurs between two or more groups, and task conflict is an effective way for people to share ideas.

While reasonable disagreement can be beneficial, conflicts can escalate into argumentative exchanges, destroying harmony and tranquillity. Conflict management is identifying and successfully resolving conflicts to reduce potential adverse effects and increase the chance of a successful outcome. 

The Importance of Conflict Management

Conflict resolution techniques are essential because:

  • Conflict management training can reduce conflict, increase productivity, and encourage dedication towards work among employees.
  • Improves communication and builds relationships among employees.
  • Conflict management helps to find a middle way, an alternative to any problem and a successful implementation of the idea.
  • Strengthens the bond among employees.
  • Minimises negative results and prioritises positive results.
  • Effective conflict management prevents aggression, violence, sabotage, and vandalism among employees.
  • Creates an environment of well-managed conflict, which increases team performance.

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The Basics of Conflict Management

Here are some fundamental conflict resolution methods that can be applied in the workplace:

  • Communicate with the other person.
  • Identify areas of agreement and disagreement.
  • Create a strategy to address each problem
  • Talk to each team member privately.
  • Bind individuals together.
  • Allow everyone a voice and actively listen to them.
  • Find solutions to achieve the mutual objective.
  • Be understanding to all parties involved.

Establishing conflict management techniques is critical for reducing workplace conflict, while conflict resolution is critical for managing and resolving conflict. 

Common Conflict Management Styles

The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument identifies five conflict settlement styles. These are the typical techniques of conflict management used in offices:

  • Collaboration: When two parties work together to develop a mutually beneficial solution, it combines aggressiveness with cooperation.
  • Competing: A strategy in which one side tries to win the argument at the expense of the other.
  • Avoiding: A tactic used when one party wants to prevent the debate entirely.
  • Accommodating: A strategy for resolving a dispute in which one side accedes to demands made by the other.
  • Compromise: Using a compromise strategy, both parties give up something to reach a consensus.

Now, let’s explore each common conflict strategies.

Collaborative Conflict Style

The collaborating conflict style is a conflict management strategy focusing on finding a win-win solution that makes everyone feel heard and understood. It requires inclusion and a mediator to listen to all sides’ wants, needs, fears, and concerns. The primary advantage of collaborating conflict management is that it makes all parties feel valued and understood. 

Competing Conflict Style

The competitive conflict style, characterised by high aggressiveness and low cooperativeness, can be both advantageous and detrimental to relationships. To move away from this style, individuals should cultivate self-awareness, empathy, and openness to others’ perspectives. 

Compromising Conflict Style

When trying to resolve a disagreement, people often use the compromise conflict style to partially address the concerns of both sides. With 24.4% of respondents selecting it, it is the second most popular conflict resolution method. It may foster antagonism, postpone settling critical issues, and disrupt necessary procedures and initiatives. 

Avoiding Conflict Style

Avoiding conflict is the least assertive and cooperative of all conflict resolution methods. It is used when the disagreement is unimportant, the individual is uninterested in the subject, or the problem is only a symptom of something bigger. It has favourable and unfavourable effects, but it is crucial to avoid personalising the disagreement personally and instead focus on enhancing the process for future success,

Accommodating Conflict Style

The accommodating conflict strategy emphasises putting aside personal interests to find a middle ground that pleases everyone. Defending your rights and approaching disputes head-on is essential, even if doing so requires making unpopular decisions. A manager skilled at handling conflicts should be able to see the argument from above and use the conflict management strategy. 

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Critical Concepts in Conflict Management

Critical concepts of conflict resolution techniques are:

  • The effective conversation
  • Trying to get excellent outcomes that satisfy everyone involved
  • Using conflict resolution skills rather than avoiding confrontation
  • Bringing together individuals who are interested in talking

Conflict Resolution: Strategies and Techniques

Ideas and methods for resolving conflicts may help resolve disputes in both professional and interpersonal interactions. Some of the most popular and successful conflict management techniques are listed below:

  • Recognise the struggle
  • Describe the issue
  • Allow everyone to speak
  • Pick a solution together
  • Decide how to put the answer into practice
  • Keep checking in and following up.

Here are five other conflict resolution techniques that may be successful:

  • Recognise that everyone’s notions of fairness are distorted
  • Avoid inciting conflict with threats and aggressive behaviour
  • Put your attention on your hobbies rather than your positions
  • Pay close attention to one another’s gripe
  • Think of creative solutions to everyone’s problems.

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Tips for Effective Conflict Management

To effectively manage conflicts, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Understand when to express regret and forgive
  • Laugh when it is appropriate
  • Enhance your communication skills
  • Approach problems openly and honestly
  • Clarify your expectations
  • Use your active listening abilities
  • Use unbiased words and approachable body language
  • Bring the parties involved together to discuss

Communication Skills for Conflict Management

Effective communication is essential for workplace dispute resolution. Here are some conflict resolution communication skills to consider:

  • Address the issue immediately and openly
  • Establish clear expectations
  • Use active listening skills
  • Use open body language and neutral speech

Other communication skills that might be used for conflict resolution include:

  • Avoiding finger-pointing
  • Allowing the person to explain, Focusing on the current issue rather than previous ones
  • Keeping an eye out for nonverbal communication

Empathy, compassion, appreciation of diversity, and emphasising the relationship with the person are key communication skills. These strategies transform potential crises into fruitful discussions.

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Conflict Management in the Workplace

Workplace conflict is unavoidable when various employees with diverse backgrounds and working styles collaborate towards a common corporate goal. However, numerous conflict resolution approaches exist to resolve these workplace disputes.

One strategy is to contact the opposing side of the conflict and ask to schedule a time to meet. Focusing on behaviour and events rather than persons is crucial, as is describing a single occurrence or event rather than making generalisations. The evaluations of both parties should be revised until there is agreement on the grounds of conflict and a prioritised list of the problems that must be fixed first.

Another tactic is finding the conflict’s origin and securing communication space. Allow everyone to speak, and pay close attention to what they say. Investigating the issue and coming up with solutions will prevent it. Setting conflict management strategies is crucial since it helps to lessen employee friction.

Conflict resolution is vital in business, enabling effective management and resolution while promoting skill growth. Despite its complexity, maintaining composure and regulating emotions is essential.

Conflict Management in Community and Society

Individuals, corporations, and governments all need to be able to manage disagreements. Here are some critical points for conflict resolution strategies in society and the community:

  • Personal, economic, political, or emotional concerns may spark conflict
  • Conflict resolution via negotiation may be beneficial to all parties involved
  • Understanding the dispute is critical to enhance rather than harm the connection between the conflicting parties
  • Conflict resolution may take numerous forms, such as avoidance, competition, cooperation, compromise, and accommodation
  • The three most essential parts of resolving conflict are maintaining the connection, providing safety, and forging a common aim.
  • To build safety, listening closely, accepting sentiments, and avoiding accusing or assaulting others is vital.

Conclusion

In conclusion, conflict management refers to handling and resolving disagreements effectively. It involves understanding the nature of conflicts, employing various conflict resolution styles and strategies, and fostering healthy communication and relationships. 

upGrad and Duke Corporate Education together provide the Post Graduate Certificate in Product Management curriculum to master product strategy while strengthening other management techniques of conflict resolution. The program is intended for individuals who want to grow in their current positions in digital product management and explore exciting heights in the field of product development.

Why is conflict management critical?

Conflict management is crucial to maintain tranquillity and the spirit of teamwork in society and the workplace. Improved relationships, more efficiency, and a more favourable work environment may all result from arguments that are handled well.

How can I manage conflict like an expert?

To manage a conflict expertly, one must approach it positively and constructively, understand the root cause of the problem, actively listen to all parties involved, communicate effectively, and work for a mutually beneficial solution.

Is conflict always destructive in workplaces?

Conflict in organisations is only sometimes destructive. It often encourages engagement, empathy, and communication, making better decisions and relationships among employees.

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