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Situational conflict 

A preliminary step in resolving conflict is to understand what the conflict is actually about and understand how conflict affects team performance. Having a clear picture of what the issues are reduces the chance of a mismatch between the problem and the solution. In this section, I identify conflicts according to their core elements. There are several types of conflict that can occur in a team. Any combination of these conflict types can happen at any given time.

Personality conflicts Sometimes people simply do not get along with each other. We all have different personalities and the way we approach tasks and the way we interact interpersonally may, at times, be disagreeable to others. Behavioral conflicts A conflict may arise out of an action taken by a member of a group. The action’s outcome could be positive or negative but, if a group disagrees with how someone acted, conflict could arise. Situational conflict Some conflicts arise out of an event that happens. Each member of a group may disagree on or have a differing point of view about a situation which can lead to conflict.

Organizational conflicts Conflict can also arise out of the way an organization is structured. Group members may disagree with certain members having authority

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and/or may disagree with the way those members use their authority. Communication conflicts Some conflicts are the result of one person not listening closely to another person. Careful listening not only includes listening to each word a person says, but also to asking questions to make sure you understand the person’s full meaning. [5]

School of Thoughts in State of The Art The rapid pace of developing in our society over the last few hundred years has far outstripped the human body’s natural evolutionary change rate. As a result, we can see that even as we live in modern world, the ancient physiological survival mechanisms are alive and well inside each of us. However, it is rare to have to confront threats to our lives in our school buildings (although the recent school shootings have led to a general increase in fear and insecurity).

Currently, the type of threats we often experience in school settings are not physical threats but psychological ones. There are threats to our self-esteem, threats to relationships we value, and threats to our success. Many people also experience a sense of threat when they encounter conflict or a problem that seems unsolvable. From the point of view of the emotional brain, these psychological threats are considered identical to physical threats.

Nevertheless, adults rarely resolve conflicts in schools by a punch in the face today (as much as we might sometimes want to!). It also is not considered a proper response to run away down the street, and we certainly cannot play dead. Like it or not, we have had to adapt to the civility of the workplace. The adaptations we have made, still based on ancient responses, have led to common styles of resolving conflict that we observe in society today. Conflict is often best understood by examining the consequences of various behaviors at moments in time. When faced with a conflict in teamwork, people most commonly have three basic response styles.

1) Avoiding – “I don’t like conflicts, and try to avoid them in the teamwork” This is a common response to the negative perception of conflict. Our parents might have told us, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” We may have interpreted this to mean that we ought to say nothing when we’re upset, frustrated, or not in agreement with someone else. “Perhaps if we don’t bring it up, it will blow over,” we say to ourselves. But, generally, all that happens is that feelings get pent up, views go unexpressed, and the conflict festers until it becomes too big to ignore. Like a cancer that may well have been cured if treated early, the conflict grows and spreads until it kills the relationship. Because needs and concerns go unexpressed, people are often confused, wondering what went wrong in a relationship.

2) Competition -“To me, conflicts in teamwork are challenging. They are like contests or competitions-opportunities for me to come up with solutions” This is a style in which one’s own needs are advocated over the needs of others. It relies on an aggressive style of communication, low regard for future relationships, and the exercise of coercive power. Those using a competitive style tend to seek control over a discussion, in both substance and ground rules. They fear that loss of such control will result in solutions that fail to meet their needs. Competing tends to result in responses that increase the level of threat.

3) Collaborating – “In meaningful relationships, conflict in teamwork is inevitable. I try to see conflicts from both sides. What do I need? What does the other person in the team need? What are the issues involved? Then find a way to resolve the conflict. Finally, it will be find that conflict actually has a positive contribution” It is the pooling of individual needs and goals toward a common goal. Often called “win-win problem-solving,” it requires assertive communication and cooperation in order to achieve a better solution than either individual could have achieved alone. It offers the chance for consensus, the integration of needs, and the potential to exceed the “budget of possibilities” that previously limited our views of the conflict. It brings new time, energy, and ideas to resolve the dispute meaningfully. [6]

DISCUSSION

1. Argumentation Avoiding People who engage in an avoid strategy for conflict in teamwork support that avoiding is the only way to protect themselves from the difficulty of conflict by putting up a mental wall. They strongly stick up for their belief: “I do not want to deal with this. Maybe if I do nothing about it, it will go away”. Those with common “avoiding” thought pattern may also use various forms of social propriety to keep away from conflict in teamwork. They announce “nice people do not fight any time any where”.

Those people for avoiding strategy declaim that avoiding may be useful when it is important to give some time and space to a conflict. They also believe that “time heals some wounds”. A conflict may go away over time, particularly if there is continued contact between the sides on other issues and that contact is mostly positive and productive. At a certain point, both parties may decide that what they were unhappy about in the past is just not important anymore.

Competition Those who support competition strategy for conflict in teamwork identify what they believe is always the right side in the dispute. They have the belief that people should stand up for his/her own rights in a way that violates the rights of the other person. The usual goal is domination–forcing the other person to give in. which can always help those who for competition win a match. Furthermore, they deeply trust that thought: “This is what I think and you are stupid for thinking differently, or this is what I want/feel, and what you feel/want is not important” can let them be winners most time. [7]

Collaborating Although conflict has traditionally been considered destructive, especially in collectivist societies like China, recent studies indicate that valuing and approaching conflict can contribute to effective teamwork. A hundred and six pairs of employees and their leaders were recruited from State Owned Enterprises in Shanghai and Nanjing. Employees described their conflict values and relationships. Their immediate supervisors rated the effectiveness of their teams and the extent of their citizenship behavior.

Results indicate that positive conflict attitudes and approaching conflict can contribute to strong relationships, which in turn strengthen team effectiveness and employee citizenship. Findings suggest that how conflict values affect relationships and outcomes are more differentiated than originally expected. Results were interpreted as supporting the traditional idea that relationships are critical for effective organization work in China but also challenging future research to understand the processes by which conflict has a positive contribution to work relationships. (Copyright (C) 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd)

In addition, Deutsch (1973) has argued that conflict management reinforces interdependence where people value each other’s abilities and resources. Resolving conflicts directly and constructively, Deutsch theorized, not only helps people work effectively together but also leads them to appreciate each other’s abilities and believe that they can rely upon them. Through managing conflict, they reaffirm that they have a strong, mutually beneficial relationship and will continue to work together. The collaborating strategy is called win-win problem-solving.

On the other hand, people who avoid conflict come to deny that they need to rely on others. In support of this reasoning, leaders and team members or employees who discussed their conflicts openly and constructively were found to conclude that the other had valuable abilities useful to them (Tjosvold, Chun, & Law, 1998). More research is needed, however, to assess the contribution of open conflict management to interdependence.

In a challenge to the traditional idea that avoiding conflict and competition are opposites, results are consistent with recent studies suggesting that avoiding conflict complements competitive interaction. Team members intent on avoiding conflict also engage in competitive interaction. Findings support the theorizing that avoiding conflict does not eliminate conflict but only makes it more likely that team members deal with issues competitively (Barker et al., 1988; Deutsch, 1973). Open conflict management, on the other hand, offers the possibility of the resolution of issues that reduces competitive interaction within the team. The avoiding strategy will cause lose-lose outcome.

Consistent with previous research, competitive interaction was found to characterize teams that leaders considered ineffective. Studies have shown that team members engaged in trying to outdo one another do not utilize each other’s ideas and resources, hide information, and block each other’s efforts, thus creating distrust (Deutsch, 1973). Because of the lack of psychological support and disrupted communication and exchange, competitive interaction results in poor team performance (Johnson et al., 1981).

Furthermore, relationships among team members are considered critical for effective work in China (Leung, 1997; Triandis, 1990; Triandis et al., 1990). This study further supports this argument by showing that measures of competitive interaction and interdependence can impact team effectiveness and citizenship behavior. Competitive interaction, as in the West, can disrupt team effectiveness. Feeling interdependent appears to encourage citizenship behavior. The competition strategy often cause win-lose/lose-win outcome. [8]

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