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HUMAN RELATION TERM PAPER
Discuss a conflict that you’ve had and how you resolved that conflict.
Please reference ch. 13 (the conflict chapter) in your paper, length should be 2 to 3 pages double-spaced, and a hard-copy.
When you hear the word “conflict” it may elicit the idea of big, awful problems, but most people experience conflict in many small ways throughout their day. It’s a natural part of life, so if you can begin to view conflict not as bad, but as a challenge to overcome, you will see there are many opportunities for learning and personal growth pre- sented to you each day. It doesn’t take much to set people off with feelings of anger or even a fit of rage. It may be a person who cuts you off to take a parking space you were wait- ing for, or the person standing in line next to you at Starbucks who is having an obnoxiously loud conversation. Or it could be the person in front of you at the movie theater who is constantly texting on his phone, oblivious to the irritation of everyone around him. We have all experienced moments of anger as the result of inconsiderate behavior from others, even for the smallest of things. One morning when Mr. Laermer was reading a book while seated in the “quiet” car of a Manhattan commuter train, he couldn’t concentrate over the constant click, click, click of the man texting next to him so he kindly asked the man to turn off the clicking sound so they could both be happy. The man responded by jumping out of his seat shouting, “Is this what it’s now come to? People want you to type more gently?” After going off in an angry tirade for several minutes he said, “Who do you think you are? Do you really think you can tell me what to do?” The man replied with “Yes, that’s exactly right. Please turn the clicks off.” People nearby began clapping, and the angry man sat down, red faced and turned his phone off.Researchers at Duke University call these small injustices “unwritten laws of social behavior rules.” The lead author of a new study on this topic is Mark Leary, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke. Dr. Leary says these seemingly trivial behaviors make us feel personally violated because people are not “playing by the rules,” causing one or both people to feel they are treated unfairly or in a rude, selfish, or inconsiderate manner. 1 Conflict does not need to escalate into a stressful situation if you know how to deal with it. Managing conflict is a learned skill, and this chapter offers specific guidelines for effectively resolving a wide range of conflicts. A NEW VIEW OF CONFLICT Much of our growth and social progress comes from the opportunities we have to discover creative solutions to conflicts that Conflict occurs when there is a clash between incompatible people, ideas, or interests. These conflicts are almost always perceived as negative experiences in our society. But when we view conflict as a negative experience, we may be hurting our chances of dealing with it effectively. In reality, conflicts are opportunities for personal growth if we develop and use positive, constructive conflict resolution skills. 2 Much of our growth and social progress comes from the opportunities we have to discover creative solutions to conflicts that surface in our lives. Dudley Weeks, professor of conflict reso- lution at American University, says conflict can provide additional ways of thinking about the source of conflict and open up possibil- ities for improving a relationship. 3 When people work together to resolve conflicts, their solutions are often far more creative than they would be if only one person addressed the problem. Creative conflict resolution can shake people out of their mental ruts and give them a new point of view. Meaningful Conflict Too much agreement is not always healthy in an organization. Employees who are anx- ious to be viewed as “team players” may not voice concerns even when they have doubts about a decision being made. Meaningful conflict can be the key to producing healthy, successful organizations because conflict is necessary for effective problem solving and for effective interpersonal relationships. 4 The problem is not with disagreements, but with how they are approached, discussed, and resolved. FINDING THE ROOT CAUSES OF CONFLICT Throughout this text, we have often compared the challenges of interpersonal relations to an iceberg. The tip of the iceberg is in plain view and readily available for consideration. However, most of the iceberg exists below the surface and can create problems if we choose to ignore it. Let’s assume that the owner of your company has initiated a new pol- icy on sexual harassment. This behavior has been carefully defined by the company law- yer, and the message seems very clear: Employees who are guilty of sexual harassment will be terminated. The Iceberg of Conflict, Figure 13.1, reveals a wide range of factors that will influence each employee’s perception of the new company policy. When you are in conflict, each level of the iceberg represents something that may influence the conflict resolution process. It is important that we go deep enough to understand the influence of our emotions, self-perceptions, needs, unresolved issues from Conflict Triggers A conflict trigger is a circumstance that increases the chances of intergroup or interper- sonal conflict. People encounter many different types of conflicts in any given day or week, so it is wise to learn to handle conflict in a fast, efficient manner. Later in this chap- ter, you will learn techniques for doing this. First, we will look at some of the most com- mon types of conflicts. Organizational Change. Organizational change is one of the root causes of conflict. In most organizations, there is tension between opposing forces for stability (maintain the status quo) and change. For example, if management wants to shift more health-care costs onto workers, tension may surface. With too much stability, no change in health- care cost allocation, the organization may lose its competitive position in the marketplace. With too much change, the mission blurs and employee anxiety develops. 5 Ineffective Communication. A major source of personal conflict is the misunderstand- ing that results from ineffective communication. In Chapter 2, we discussed the various fil- ters that messages must pass through before effective communication can occur. In the work setting, where many different people work closely together, communication break- downs are inevitable. Achieving effective two-way communication is always a challenge.Value and Culture Clashes. In Chapter 5, you read that differences in values can cause conflicts between generations, between men and women, and between people with different value priorities. Today’s diverse workforce reflects a kaleidoscope of values and cultures, each with its own unique qualities. The individual bearers of these different val- ues and traditions could easily come into conflict with one another. As noted in previous chapters, generational influences are among the most powerful forces shaping values in our workforce. Value differences among Matures, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y (Millennials) can lead to conflict. Work Policies and Practices. Interpersonal conflicts can develop when an organiza- tion has unreasonable or confusing rules, regulations, and performance standards. The conflicts often surface when managers fail to tune in to employees’ perceptions that vari- ous policies are unfair. Managers need to address the source of conflict rather than sup- press it. Conflict also surfaces when some workers refuse to comply with the rules or neglect their fair share of the workload. Adversarial Management. Under adversarial management, supervisors may view their employees and even other managers with suspicion and distrust and treat them as “the enemy.” Employees usually lack respect for adversarial managers, resenting their au- thoritarian style and resisting their suggestions for change. This atmosphere makes coop- eration and teamwork difficult. Competition for Scarce Resources. It would be difficult to find an organization, public or private, that is not involved in downsizing or cost-cutting. The result is often destructive competition for scarce resources such as updated computers, administrative support personnel, division and/or department budgets, salary increases, or annual bonuses. When budgets and cost-cutting efforts are not clearly explained, workers may suspect coworkers or supervisors of devious tactics.Personality Clashes. There is no doubt about it: Some people just don’t like each other. They may have differing communication styles, temperaments, or attitudes. They may not be able to identify exactly what it is they dislike about the other person, but the bottom line is that conflicts will arise when these people have to work together. Even peo- ple who get along well with each other in the beginning stages of a work relationship may begin to clash after working together for a few months. RESOLVING CONFLICT ASSERTIVELY Conflict is often uncomfortable whether it is in a personal or professional setting. People sometimes get hurt and become defensive because they feel they are under per- sonal attack. Because we have to work or live with certain people every day, it is best to avoid harming these ongoing relationships. But many people do not know how to approach and manage conflict in a positive way. Many professionals advise going directly to the offending person and calmly discussing his or her irritating behavior rather than complaining to others. 6 Figure 13.2, “Dealing with People You Can’t Stand,” offers specific strategies you might use. By taking those steps to change your behavior, you can facilitate a powerful change in theirs. Keep in mind that some people are unaware of the impact of their behavior, and if you draw their attention to it, they may change it. Whereas these strategies may be comfortable for some people, such a direct approach may be very uncomfortable for many others. People who try to avoid conflict by simply ignoring things that bother them are exhibiting nonassertive behavior. Nonassertive peo- ple often give in to the demands of others, and their passive approach makes them less likely to make their needs known. If you fail to take a firm position when such action is appropriate, customers, coworkers, and supervisors may take advantage of you, and man- agement may question your abilities. Assertive behavior, on the other hand, provides you the opportunity to stand up for your rights and express your thoughts and feelings in a direct, appropriate way that does not violate the rights of others. It is a matter of getting the other person to understand your viewpoint. 7 People who exhibit appropriate assertive behavior skills are able to han- dle their conflicts with greater ease and assurance while maintaining good interpersonal relations. Some people do not understand the distinction between being aggressive and being assertive. Aggressive behavior in conflict situations involves expressing your thoughts and feelings and defending your rights in a way that violates the rights of others. Aggres- sive people may interrupt, talk fast, ignore others, and use sarcasm or other forms of verbal abuse to maintain control. How to Become More Assertive Entire books have been written that describe how to improve your assertiveness skills. The American Management Association is one of many organizations that offer skill-de- velopment seminars that focus on assertiveness training, including Assertiveness Training for Managers and Assertiveness Training for Women in Business. 8 greater credibility by learning how to handle tough situations with composure and confi- dence. Whether you choose to read books or participate in assertiveness training, know that you can communicate your wants, dislikes, and feelings in a clear, direct manner without threatening or attacking others. Here are three practical guidelines that will help you develop your assertiveness skills.