Communication and Conflict
The use of effective communication techniques goes a long way in resolving conflicts. In the current increasing globalization in terms of trade, capital and technology, conflicts can easily arise and the best possible means of resolving is through good communication. In this paper we shall focus on effective communication as a means of solving personal conflict problems and those anticipated in working environments. This paper shall detail personal best practices approach in communication which resolves conflicts.Communication and ConflictCommunication is the transfer of information from one individual to another in form of a message. The information originates from one part of a system and ends up in the other receiving part of the system.
Conflict is generated whenever neighbors, colleagues at work, lovers or nations disagree and the most appropriate solution prescribed by voices of reasoning is communication. Solving problems through communication is the most outstanding and correct option which leaves the conflicting parties satisfied. For instance, the U.N Security Counsel encourages the nations at war to have dialogue and marriage counselors do tell the fighting couples to express their feelings to each other and try to understand the other through dialogue (Krauss & Morsella, n.d).The first thing to recognize is that every partnership gives rise to conflict.
This is because it is impossible to improve the quality of products and services in an organization without experiencing difference in opinion. The only difference is how these differences in opinions and ideas is resolved to avoid scenarios which degenerate to total disagreements. Those involved in conflict have a choice to avoid, give in, engage in, compromise or use the conflict to learn more of the causes of conflict and improve the participation in communication. In organizational conflicts, there is a regular occurrence where there is a desire to fight it out or accommodate it by retreating (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2000).The conflict in workplace should be addressed at the earliest possible opportunity so as to enable an organization to continue in human capital productivity.
In a working environment, people may choose to avoid conflicts altogether or force certain outcomes especially where the person is powerful than the colleagues. These are extremes which typically occur in the workplace conflict situations. However, if we choose to avoid the conflicts altogether they will reoccur or even grow worse which lead to a regretful situation of having missed opportunities to resolve them at their earlier stages. On the other hand, forcing resolutions may cause future friction between employees which causes dwindling relationship and guilty of using power to impose solutions. Therefore there is need to develop alternative conflict resolution through effective communication (Coyle, 1994).
When it comes to conflicts, everyone knows by instinct that the only way of genuinely resolving is by getting to the bottom of the misunderstanding. The source has to be identified which is the point where fight is being fueled then it should be broken so as to stop further conflicts. There are fundamentals that might have to be changed in a system so as to resolve the conflict problems in any organization. This is because failure to resolve conflicts can be catastrophe which threatens to destabilize the organizational unity, team relationships, business partnerships and interpersonal connections (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2000). Thus it becomes necessary that any conflict be addressed at the earliest possible opportunity so as to avoid future complications.Conflict Situations in Employment EnvironmentThere are several situations that may give rise to conflicts in an organization and we shall look at a few examples which are anticipated in any work environment to generate conflicts.
The first case is to consider a situation where the leader of an information-system organization planned to transform the structure of an organization from a hierarchy to self-directed teams. The inner organizational clientele were doubtful and felt threatened by the new development. They feared that they were not going to receive quality level of customer service and demanded detailed information. The employees experienced the leaders of internal organizations as they fight over the future of their relationships. Thus the commitment of the employees as well as motivation began to deteriorate drastically (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2000).In addition, there is a situation where a new employee was assigned to a team which had successful performance track record for several years.
The team valued communication and were cooperating to the extent that they would complete sentence for each other thus demonstrating great understanding in terms of communication. However, the new recruit did not value communication as a team but was effective as a loner. He expressed to the team that he was not interested in the closeness of the team and did not believe in their communication stuff and as such did not respect the team. This led to the conflict within the team leading to declined performance of the group (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2000).Moreover, another situation is where two deputy directors of information division of a large commercial bank poised for merger vied for their director’s support. One was male individual who was responsible for making his siblings behave whereas the other was a young sister to four brothers and she resented being bossed by men.
They were from different backgrounds and could squabble constantly in front of the director who felt like a father disturbed by two misbehaving children (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2000). This led to declined performance of the director and both the deputies caused by time wastage during squabbling and fighting.Designing Conflict Resolution SystemsThe key element to developing a successful organization is through creation of conflict-resolution processes as well as systems that persuade workers to resolve conflicts and use them to develop better partnerships. It is normal for leaders to encourage quality improvement, participation as well as partnership. However, it is also important that they design conflict resolution systems that encourage problem solving in situations of communication collapse (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2000).According to Cloke & Goldsmith (2000), conflicts can be understood best as a system that generate and reinforce disputes rather than isolated incidents.
Therefore resolution processes need to be established as systems to counteract and resolve any dispute at their earliest stages. These systems should have certain characteristics so as to be effective in their conflict resolutions. An effective resolution system should include; predictors of conflicts, preventive measures, safety nets, outlets of constructive expression of differences, procedures for resolution as well as methods for making them useful in conflict resolution.The concept is to provide those in conflict with interest-based systems for resolution. The resolution may include mediation which allow satisfaction and encourage consultation before, facilitation during and feedback after every conflict.
The focus here is rather on the interest rather than on rights or power-based resolutions. There should be provision of motivation, skills and resources so as to make the design of resolution systems work effectively (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2000).In most organizations, effective conflict resolution system means a process of initiating conflict audit to assess the source then analyzing the systemic causes of conflict in connection to organizational structure, decision making, communication, vision, culture, organizational design, values, morale and staffing. Thereafter, it identifies organizational conflict resolution culture as well as informal mechanisms already in place for conflict resolution. The system further expands the internal resolution options and removes thinking patterns that block the use of new resolution procedures and ensures continuous improvement in the quality of the system (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2000).Typical Methods of Dispute Management at WorkMost leaders and employees use three methods for conflict management.
They include fight, flight and intervention. Fighting usually targets to get a winner or a loser and this method often takes a form of an employee invoking an organization’s formal grievance procedure in which conflicts are resolved. Investigations are conducted and the procedure is expensive for the parties involved. Employees do not prefer this method because of the fear of retaliation as well as the negative repercussions afterwards (McGrane, Wilson & Cammock, 2005).The other alternative is flight method which is commonly used in organizations.
This is where an issue is avoided or transferring away from a problem. This remedy is used often by employees who decide to leave an organization whenever a conflict arises. This avoidance does not resolve the conflict but rather remains unaddressed. The research that has been conducted indicates that it is better for individuals to confront situations in instead of avoidance. Those managers who confront disagreements directly through effective communication are perceived to be constructive leaders. Thus in general, direct dispute resolution through discussions or dispute resolution is considered by the employees to be better than avoidance (McGrane, Wilson & Cammock, 2005).
The other dispute management mechanism is the direct intervention which is typically used by managers in several organizations. The employees call for their line managers to arbitrate directly and manage their conflicts. The manager called to intervene may be skilled or unskilled in dispute resolutions and sometimes may respond inadequately by fight or flight (Cohen, 1999). The other scenario is where a third party intervenes when a conflict escalates to violence and personal safety is threatened. However, intervention is not always appropriate in solving conflicts because some third party interference could add more problems to already tense conflicts. The increase in the problem is caused by the increased number of people involved, publicity, complexity, viewpoints, goals, needs as well as power.
The use of one-to-one conflict resolution escapes these problems (McGrane, Wilson & Cammock, 2005).The sum total of the above three typical dispute resolution methods could be expensive and ineffective which has lead to organizations seeking alternative methods. The most appropriate and cheap alternative which is available is one-to-one communication. This is an informal method that involves two employees resolving their conflict by means of face-to-face communication where there is no direct intervention by management. This means of dispute resolution is preferred by employees because it saves time and it is realistic (McGrane, Wilson & Cammock, 2005).
The discussions are not forced to employees but they agree voluntary to settle their differences.Conflict Resolution in Workplace through CommunicationThe dispute resolution systems of several organizations are designed to facilitate effective communication that is interest-based and capable of resolving conflicts. These resolution systems are effective in resolving all range of issues that arise when employees work in partnerships to improve quality and participation (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2000). We shall discuss processes that make up dispute resolution systems which are successful in conflict resolution for large organizations as follows;Informal Problem SolvingThis is the first step in resolving any dispute through informal methods of direct communication between the involved parties. The organization should counsel all its employees so as to improve their communication, problem solving as well as conflict-resolution techniques. After the failure of informal process in solving a conflict, the issue is reviewed to establish the next best option to resolve the dispute.
In this case the human resources are tasked to find out the reasons of failure as well as suggest fresh approach of resolving disputes (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2000).Peer Mediation and CoachingThis is where a trained, volunteer or internal peer-mediation team is appointed to mediate the conflict. Those involved in the mediation will conduct private investigations and conduct exclusive sessions with each party so as to have a general understanding of the dispute and the root cause which helps them in mediation process. Thereafter, a joint session is conducted and possible solutions are raised and conclusions made. If the dispute affects co-workers, the mediators may find it necessary to facilitate a team discussion, intervention or confrontation. This will help in solving a particular conflict in total (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2000).
Peer Coaching and AdvocacyThis is done where the above two approaches have not been effective and as such peer coaches or advocates can be appointed. They will help the involved parties to understand their problems, state them clearly without polarization and arrive at a common ground. The peer coaches as well as advocates will give details of the conflict resolution process, find out facts, makes clear their parties’ interests, put in order their best reasoning, consent on ground rules as well as persuade openness and responsibility for resolution (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2000).Peer Review BoardThe conflicting parties may then take their disagreements to an organizational peer review board which is constituted of equal numbers of employees as well as managers. Their work is to hear the dispute case and make a judgment that is conclusive and binding on the organization.
In most cases the boards decide on the foundation of consent (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2000). The board will use their own wisdom and consultations to arrive at a decision which is most appropriate for a given scenario and communication is of great importance to the board.Organizational LearningThe peer coaches, advocates, mediators as well as human resources representatives will take the parties throughout the progression, distilling the disagreement, facilitating listening, deepening understanding, encouraging compromise and conclusion of agreements. They also help the entire organization to learn from the dispute as well effective communication in resolving misunderstandings. The performance will increase over time coupled with the healing process as well as morale advancement (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2000). The other employees who were not involved in the dispute could learn from the conflicting parties so as to avoid those scenarios in future.
The entire organization will also be able to understand the negative effects of conflicts within the organization and would be refrained from future disagreements.Professional Mediation and ArbitrationThis is applied where the peer-review as well as board is not successful in conflict resolution where the mediator from outside the organization is engaged to resolve the conflict. This is because of particular complex organizational issues that require expert mediation due to the organizational politics as well as the size. There are large organizations that cannot be able to settle all disputes that arise for its employees and as such will require professionals who can carry out effective dispute resolution without overburdening the human resources department.The risks of dispute resolution to the organization as well as refusal of parties to cooperate are other factors that force the organizations to engage professionals in resolving disputes.
In a situation where this mediation fails, the matter is forwarded to the final and binding arbitration before an external arbitrator (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2000).Coordination and TrainingIt is important that the employees are trained in peer mediation, coaching and advocacy as well as peer-review boards so as to have effective communication in resolving disputes. The employees require to be trained in important behaviors which include active listening, creative problem solving, stalemate resolution, mutual negotiation as well as organizational learning. The managers and employees need to be aware of the processes of conflict resolution systems so as to be able to utilize them whenever a need arises (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2000). The all processes are important beginning from informal means to the professional engagement so as to be utilized by an organization in appropriate order to arrive at the best option available for each conflict.
It is important that each dispute must be treated independently so as to resolve it with the cheapest available means of resolution.Principles for Communicating Effectively in Conflict SituationsThe first important principle is to reduce noise whenever you are engaged in a conflict resolution process. The reduced noise will ensure that the message passed from any party is received and understood well. This will limit the chances of misinterpretation that might occur in situations where excessive noise may distort the transmission of information (Krauss & Morsella, n.d).
The other principle is that it is important to take the perspective of the listener when speaking. This will ensure that the speaker uses appropriate words which are understood by the listener so as to avoid misunderstanding. The third principle is that the listener should try to understand the intended meaning of what the counterpart is saying. The two principles ensure that communication is passed without misinterpretation (Krauss & Morsella, n.d).The fourth principle is that the person should be an active listener so as to get complete information which is being passed without making inappropriate conclusions.
Active listening will enable the listener to raise questions for clarity which ensures that an effective communication has taken place which ultimately lead to successful conflict resolution (Krauss & Morsella, n.d).Advantages of Peer Based Communication Resolution SystemsThe peer mediation systems for dispute resolution increase communication skills as well as understanding in regard to organizational conflicts. The Systems uses effective communication at all levels of discussions and as a result helps employees to own their resolution process rather than expecting someone else to resolve the dispute. The systems encourage training in communication which helps staff to internalize the resolution processes whish form part of the daily working procedures (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2000).The other advantage is the higher rate of dispute resolution, greater participant satisfaction, reduced costs and increased trust in the traditional processes.
The organization is likely to learn from these conflict resolutions and may lead to improvement of its functions, conflict prevention on time as well as proper handling of any disagreements. With the proper management of conflicts in an organization, there will be saving on time, expenses, energy, morale and productivity (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2000). This will increase the quality performance of any organization which leads to absolute customer satisfaction.The employees will feel supported by colleagues as expressed in their communication during conflict resolution. This makes them to be willing to do more in return to their colleagues as well as the organization.
Moreover, the organization will access unique opportunities in their partnerships. This is improved quality of communication as well as relationships and their participation in solving problems increase their performance so as to come up with outstanding results. The more the employees engage in conflict resolutions they bond together and learn to work as a team which gives more benefits to an organization because effective teams surely deliver required targets (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2000).The effective communication process in any organization has proved to be efficient in conflict resolution. Several systems of communication have been developed by organizations so as to resolve organizational disagreements and give steps to be followed in conflict resolution whenever an option fails.
Therefore we can conclude that an effective communication in an organization goes a long way in resolving conflicts.