Styles of Conflict Resolution
Conflict is a natural part of any workplace; it arises for many reasons.
- Different cultures, assumptions, values, opinions and beliefs
- Insensitivity to race, gender, age, education and ability
- Lack of people skills, especially communication
- Fast-changing workplace
- Limits on resources: physical and psychological
Conflict can be costly. It can affect the bottom line of a company's performance, waste employees' time, and impact the quality of decisions. People in conflict are less likely to share vital information and more likely to become enmeshed in power struggles.
Poorly managed conflict can result in the loss of valuable employees and the expense of hiring and retraining new ones. It can lead to compromised job satisfaction, poor motivation, and lack of engagement among employees.
What style are you?
Constructive conflict resolution can benefit individuals and organizations. In Human Relations and Your Career, Social Psychologist David W. Johnson categorizes five styles of conflict resolution. Understanding each style can help managers and staff resolve conflict in the workplace.
Turtles avoid or withdraw from conflict. When confronted with conflict, turtles abandon their own goals and relationships and exhibit passive behaviour. Conflict remains unresolved.
Sharks confront. They are aggressive, competitive and seek to win at any cost. Personal goals are very important. The needs of others are not. Sharks do not care if they are liked. They seek to win by attacking, intimidating and over-whelming their opponent.
The Teddy Bear
Teddy Bears accommodate the needs of others and will 'keep the peace'. They need to be liked and when faced with conflict will ignore their own goals to maintain the relationship.
Foxes deal with conflict through compromise. Foxes are willing to sacrifice some of their goals by persuading others to give up some of theirs. Foxes are concerned with goals and relationships. While a relationship may be maintained during conflict, the compromise may result in a less-than-ideal outcome.
Owls view conflict as a problem that needs to be solved. They collaborate to reach solutions. Owls ensure both parties' goals are achieved. Though this can take time and effort, when both sides achieve their goals, tension is eliminated.
Explore our Conflict Management courses