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Dealing with a conflict Essay


Conflicts or disputes in any work place arise when individuals or groups of people are not getting what they want or their rights are being forsaken. Sometimes they can occur when people are pursuing their own personal interests. Some conflicts are minor and easy to handle while other are of great magnitude and require a strategy for successful resolution or otherwise they will create constant tension and lasting enmity in the business.

Conflicts beings when there is poor communication, work mates are seeking power, there is dissatisfaction with management style, weak leadership, lack of openness in activities and when there is change of leadership. Early indicators of conflicts are normally disagreements, regardless of issues, withholding bad news, and surprises. [1]

Although they are inevitable in any place, knowing how they can be minimized, diverted or resolved is important for overall success of value added business. Conflicts can either be constructive or destructive depending on how is expressed. Destructive disputes leads to undermining morale or self concept, polarises people or groups reducing their cooperation, taking attention away from other important activities and irresponsible or harmful behaviour like name calling and fighting.

This leads to wastage in time, money and energy away from goals of the business. On the other hand it can constructive if there is clarification of issues, solutions to problems are achieved, cooperation among the aggrieved parties is strengthened, and emotions and anxiety with the work place is relieved and understanding is established.

 Main body:

When dealing with conflict, there are several ways in which to handle a dispute through resolution strategies. Although there is no strategy that achieves a 100% success, communication based resolution processes tend to improve the relation between the parties which can minimize or prevent future disputes. The effectiveness of the strategy depends heavily in the nature of the conflict.

Conflict management styles

Source: Guy and Robert, 2005

When a conflict is to be resolved, there are usually two factors that are considered in order to look for a solution. The assertiveness or extent to which an individual tries to satisfy his or her own interests and the other factor is the cooperativeness or extent to which the individual tries to satisfy the other persons concerns. These two dimensions lead to five approaches when dealing with a conflict. There are competition, collaboration, avoidance, accommodation and compromise.


This reflects a desire to meet ones personal needs and concerns at the expense of the others and leads to a win-lose situations. To obtain the expected results, the competitor uses whatever power is available and easily acceptable like persuasion and expertise. This method is considered not to be the best but employed by most assertive and least productive people depending on the situation.


This strategy is employed when other party needs and concerns are placed high above ones own needs and concerns leading to a lose some and win some situations. It is characterized with high level of cooperation and unassertiveness. This strategy is appropriate if one party is not concerned as the other and effective when trying to preserve harmony and avoid disruption and can result into good will and cooperative relationships. [2]


This is a situation when people  are not willing to address the conflict and are indifferent to each other needs and concerns leading to a lose- lose situations. This is characterised by cooperation and unassertiv3e behaviours of the aggrieved parties. This strategy is employed effective as short term solution until a more information is available or emotions of aggrieved parties have cooled down. It is permanently used when if the chances of satisfying ones needs and concerns are very low.


This strategy is employed by people with a purpose of satisfying the needs and concerns of both parties equally with fair representation. It usually involves use of both cooperation and assertion completely and it requires more commitments, time and energy than the other styles. Both parties are usually more committed to the resolution because the results that satisfy both of them are attainable. [3]


This strategy leads to a partial fulfilment of needs, concerns and goals of both parties. It is appropriate when goals of the parties are moderately important and not worth the effort and time required for collaboration.

Managing conflicts:

Individuals involved may require assistance when resolving conflicts. Some techniques that are used when managing a business dispute are;

First initiate a dialogue which is considered to most effective and involves calling the parties together and discuss the problems openly, honestly and considerate of each party. Next is to involve all parties in communication process by asking questions and recording the answer from the other party. The information from both parties is assimilated with facts and feelings. Agreements are reinforced to build on trust and understanding among them and then negotiate where there were disagreements and finally agreements are solidified by confirming from both parties if solutions achieved acceptable and this is confirmed by formal or informal means like handshakes.


Conflicts usually consume time, money and energy which are not considered in the start of a business. This results in failure to achieve the set goals and profitability. The main source of conflicts is lack of communication between the management team and managed teams. Disputes needs to avoided and prevented at early stages to avoid serious repercussions of conflicts. Each business need to have its own conflict mediation and resolution centre where all disputes arising are handled and resolved accordingly.

Use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms like ombudsman and peer review should be encouraged when a conflict goes beyond internally designed dispute resolution machinery. Open forums within are business are essential where all people interact and air their dissatisfactions or issues of concerns and educate people on proper procedure of arising an issues of concern for mutual benefits. [4]

When dealing with a conflict one needs to evaluate critically the root source to avoid offering a first aid solution which will not last for long. Conflict resolution and avoidance needs to practice based on trust respect and cooperation of integrative bargaining and partnership rather than encouraging a conflict arise. But when it arise understanding and cooperation is essential for the parties aggrieved to achieve a fair agreement.


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Bhatia, T. K. (2000):  Business Communication and Consumerism: Japan, Tokyo Press

Blackard, K. (2000): Managing Conflicts in a Unionized Workplace:  Westport, Connecticut: Quorum Books.

Cloke, K. and Joan, G. (2000): Resolving Conflicts at Work: A Complete Guide for Everyone on the Job.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kuretzky, B. and Jennifer, M. (2001):  Mediating Employment Disputes. Aurora, ON: Canada Law Book & Sons Canada Ltd

Guy, H. and Robert, M. (2005): Managing Conflict on business firms. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers

Lipsky, D. B., Ronald L. S. and Richard D. F. (2003): Emerging Systems for Managing Workplace Conflict:  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Otomar, J. B. and Paul, W. (2002): Using Conflict Theory: New York: Cambridge University Press.

Stitt, A. J.  (1998): Alternative Dispute Resolution for Organizations. Etobicoke, Ontario: John Wiley

[1] Guy, H. and Robert, M. (2005): Managing Conflict on business firms. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass


[2] Stitt, A. J.  (1998): Alternative Dispute Resolution for Organizations. Etobicoke, Ontario: John Wiley

[3] Guy, H. and Robert, M. (2005): Managing Conflict on business firms. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass


[4] Blackard, K. (2000): Managing Conflicts in a Unionized Workplace:  Westport, Connecticut: Quorum


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