¶ … Conflict
Conflict is something that we come across in our everyday life-be it at the workplace or in our homes or with the neighbor. The basic source of conflicts is disagreements. In this paper we would restrict ourselves to the conflicts at workplace. There are several aspects in which conflicts at workplace can happen. Conflicts can be between co-workers and between workers and the management or between the management and the union (Lansford, 2008).
The way to resolve conflict at workplace-or for that matter at any other place, is through negotiations. Negotiation is the term that is given to the process of dialogues to resolve disagreements two persons or two groups of persons and when the disagreement is based on interest, goals, values or beliefs (Deutsch & Coleman, 2000). The process through which such parties arrive at a common goal or a possible agreement is termed as negotiation.
The aim of negotiations is to reach an agreement with the disagreeable individual or group of individual through the building of credibility with the opposite side, finding some shared interests, learning the position of the opposite side and sharing the information about the situation (Barkun, 1964). However the important aspect of conflict resolution is to be able to bring the disagreeable parties to the negotiating table.
There are several strategies and ways and approaches that can be used to resolve a conflict. In this case we will limit ourselves to the strategies that can be used to resolve conflicts at workplace.
For the study in this paper we take a conflict between the union and the management. The imaginary situation arose after the management show-caused a worker for misconduct at the workplace and has suspended the worker for a month from work. The union is disgruntled as the employee was not given a chance to defend himself before he was suspended (Saundry & Wibberley, 2014). An initial round of talks with the management has failed and the union is adamant on taking on the management head on. There are even chances that there can be a lock out at the establishment threatening to put the production schedule haywire (Lansford, 2008). Let us also assume that as a line manager the manager of the concerned department, the management has given the researcher the initial responsibility of conducting the negotiations.
Strategy 1: Understanding the culture dynamics of conflicts
In any conflict it is important to understand the source of the conflict. It has often been seen that the sources of conflict arise from difference in opinion, values and ideas. Such differences in values and ideas often have their roots in differences of culture. Dynamics and differences in culture can give rise to many misunderstandings which can then become bigger to form conflicts (Behrens, 2007). Thus cultural difference is one of the major reasons for conflicts across the world. The same is true for conflicts at work places. In multicultural organizations there where people from various parts of the world come to work and where there are people from many cultures, there can be several reactions to a situation depending on the culture of the individual and the place from where the individual originates. While a reaction to a situation can be considered to be acceptable to one, the same reaction might be offensive to another. Therefore the context of the situation and the culture the individual belongs to is of prime importance while trying to resolve a conflict at work place (http://www.hawaii.edu, 2015).
In the case at hand it is important for the management to understand the context of the behavior of the employee who was suspended. The management needs to take into consideration whether the individual reacted to a particular situation on purpose or was a spontaneous reaction based on the learning from the culture that individual comes from or belongs to. This would help the management understand the real reason behind the behavior of the employee. Once this is understood, the conflict can be resolved or at least an understanding would be gained about the root cause of the behavior and the resulting conflict.
Many of the conflicts since ages have been due to lack of proper communication and the reason of one not intently and empathetically listening to the other. In our everyday life too we are often restless and do not tend to pay much attention when someone else is speaking let alone being and empathic listener (Katz & Flynn, 2013). As already discussed, conflicts are results of miscommunications and differences of opinion and values. Often during a conflict people tend to say more than to listen to the other's position and concerns. Conflicts often arise from fears and insecurity. Such attributes of human feelings can be reduced and sometimes eliminated when one is empathic and responsive to the fears, concerns and insecurity of the other. Conflicts can often be resolved when one or both of the parties are receptive and open to understanding the fears, concerns and aspirations of the other (Poitras, Belair & Byrne, 2005).
In the case at hand, if both the union and the management are empathetic and responsive to the fears and concerns of each other then there would be some degree of common ground for resolution of conflict. Such empathic and responsive attitude can be demonstrated by both parties by listening intently and with complete empathy to the others position and the causes of concern. This strategy is helpful not only in creating a good platform for the two parties before the negotiations but also ensures that the management gives this view to the union that they are understanding and open to logically hear the side of the unions. Such empathic and responsive listening to the other party can result in quick resolution of the conflict between the management and the labor union.
Strategy 3: Search beneath the surface for hidden meanings
Communications that have little connection to the real issues below the surface take the centre stage during a conflict. According to Cloke and Goldsmith (2001), "what is at stake is our capacity for mutual respect, integrity, inner truth, and honest relationships with other" (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2001 p. 113). They claim that the trivial issues of the conflict are rarely the real issues of conflict. There for ethey suggest that one should look below the apparent cause of the conflict to see the dep rooted problem that gave rise to the conflict. Cloke and Goldsmith suggested their idea in form of a figure which they called the iceberg of conflict. The picture is shown below.
Researchers suggest that underlying issues like personality clashes, deep rooted emotional incidents, conflicting interest, needs and desires, self-esteem and prestige, hidden expectations and issues for the past are the prime causes of any conflict. Therefore while attempting to resolve a crisis, one must look beyond the apparent and search for the cause in among these spheres mentioned above (Maltby, 2009).
In the example at hand it is advised that both parties, the unions and the management should look into the real cause of the disagreement and discuss such issues if found to be true before arriving at the apparent problem for the present conflict. This would go a long way in resolving the conflict between the union and the management.
Strategy 4: Acknowledge and reframe emotions
Cultural myths and assumptions remain at work and they leave a profound influence on emotions and how they are experienced and handled by individuals in an organization. Several assumptions are generally related to emotions and assumptions that emotions are irrational, negative and harmful in making proper decisions. These negative assumptions and perceptions about emotions are hindrances to using emotions in a positive way in organizations in managing and resolving of conflicts at work. There is a growing realization however the intense expression of emotions at workplaces can be constructive is the negativities associated with emotions are reframed (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2011). Emotional communication can be clarified and in a very constructive way by reframing the emotions. Reframing of emotions is done generally by transforming the acquisitions into statements. In this way it is possible to use the emotions to be used in a positive way to problem solving rather than such emotions being used in furthering of conflicts. Using empathy to find a fresh word or a phrase or a statement which includes the most important of the meaning that was intended to be delivered by the emotional acquisition while removing and avoiding the negative meanings and suggestions in the previous emotional expression can be used to resolve conflicts at work place. This can be done by choosing and leaving out words carefully (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2011).
In the example at hand it is possible to attempt resolving the conflict by reframing of emotions from the suspended worker and the labor unions in a positive way. The acquisitions against…
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