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What is it?
Why is it important?
How can we mitigate it?
Yes, different thought leaders have defined various types of conflict as follows
Threats or disputes over territory:
According to Thomas & Kilmann most people develop a patterned response to conflict based on their life history and history with others.
Conflict is a
through which the
perceive a threat
needs, interests or concerns.
True disagreement versus perceived disagreement may be quite different from one another.
Conflict tends to be accompanied by significant levels of misunderstanding that
the perceived disagreement considerably.
Understanding the true areas of disagreement will help us solve the right problems and manage the true needs of the parties.
The characteristics of the parties involved are key variables in the constructiveness or destructiveness of the outcome of a conflict. Examples include values and motivations, aspirations and objectives, beliefs about conflict and power relationships.
Other variables affecting the outcome include prior relationship of the parties, the nature of the issue giving rise to conflict, the social environment in which the conflict occurs, and consequences of the conflict to the participants and other interested parties.
Needs, interest or concerns.
There is a tendency to narrowly define "the problem" as one of substance, task, and near-term viability. However, conflicts in groups tend to be far more complex than that, for they involve ongoing emotional components. Simply stated, there are always procedural needs and psychological needs to be addressed within the conflict, in addition to the substantive needs that are generally presented. Any efforts to resolve conflicts effectively must take these points into account.
People respond to the perceived threat, rather than the true threat facing them. Thus, while perception doesn't become reality per se, people's behaviors, feelings and ongoing responses become modified by that evolving sense of threat they confront. If we can work to understand the true threat (issues) and develop strategies (solutions) that manage it (agreement), we are acting constructively to manage the conflict.
Now that we've met the authors, how about we find out a little more about conflict?
Other issues include:
Control over resources
Preference and nuisances
Beliefs about facts & info
The nature of the relationship between the parties
Who are some key authors on the topic of conflict?
Task conflict is an awareness of differences in viewpoints and opinions pertaining to the group’s
task. It pertains to conflict about ideas and differences of opinion about the task, similar to cognitive
conflict (Amason & Sapienza, 1997). Task conflicts may coincide with animated discussions and
personal excitement but, by definition, are void of intense interpersonal negative emotions that are more
commonly associated with relationship conflict.
Relationship conflict is an awareness of interpersonal incompatibilities, which includes affective
components such as feeling tension and friction. Relationship conflict involves personal issues such as
dislike among group members and feelings such as annoyance, frustration, irritation, and dislike. This
definition is consistent with past categorizations of conflict that distinguish between affective and
(Amason, 1996; Pinkley, 1990).
Process conflict is defined as an awareness
of controversies about aspects of how task accomplishment will proceed. More specifically, process conflict pertains to issues of duty and
resource delegation such as who should do what or how much should one get. For example, when
group members disagree about whose responsibility it is to complete a specific duty, they are experiencing
A desire on the part of the individual for a sense of vitality by total submergence in the group, which exists alongside a desire for a sense of individual independence by total repudiation of the group.
The conflict between the group and the individual whose desires are often at cross-purposes to the needs of the group.
The conflict between the problem-oriented work group and the basic assumption group (which interferes with what the work group is attempting to accomplish).
So how do we deal with conflict?
Tension and friction
Irritation, Frustration, Annoyance
The Result? Conflict can show up in many ways...
Conflict resolution tools
The Circle of Conflict
The Circle of Conflict is a model that diagnoses and categorizes the underlying causes or “drivers” of the given conflict. It categorizes these causes and drivers into one of five categories: Values, Relationships, Moods/Externals, Data and Structure. Further, the model offers concrete suggestions for working with each of these drivers, and directs the practitioner toward Data, Structure, and the sixth category, Interests, as the focus for resolution
The Triangle of Satisfaction
The Triangle model is an extension of the Circle of Conflict, though it easily operates as an independent framework for the practitioner. This model deepens the area of Interests, suggesting that there are three distinct types of interests: Result or substantive interests, Process or procedural interests, and Psychological or emotional interests. The model offers specific strategies for working with the three different types of interests in conflict situations.
The Boundary model
The Boundary model, similar to the Circle, assesses the
root cause of conflict from a structural and behavioural point of view, but suggests that conflict occurs because of how people relate to and interact with boundaries. Our lives are filled with boundaries of many kinds, and may include rules, laws, contracts, cultural expectations, norms, and limits of any sort. It suggests that conflict occurs when parties disagree on boundaries, expand or break boundaries, or refuse to accept the authority and jurisdiction inherent in a boundary. It also offers
specific approaches to work with conflict
caused by boundary issues.
The Interest/Rights/Power model
The Interests/Rights/Power model does not assess the root causes of conflict, but rather focuses on the different processes people use to deal with conflict, categorizing all approaches to conflict as being one of three types – Interest-based, Rights-based or Power-based. The I/R/P model diagnoses the characteristics of each of the three types. Finally, the model offers broad direction on working with each of the three different processes, along with a guide for choosing effective types of processes for resolving conflict.
The Dynamics of Trust model
This model looks at the dynamics of trust and how we attribute blame. Attribution Theory, one of the most important areas of psychological research, is boiled down to help practitioners understand how trust is broken, and how blame and lack of trust can make resolution difficult if not impossible. The model also gives the practitioner specific strategies for rebuilding enough trust to facilitate the resolution process, through activities such as Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), procedural trust, and attributional retraining.
The Dimensions model
The Dimensions model takes the broadest look at diagnosing conflict by proposing that conflict takes place along three different “dimensions.” These three dimensions are the Cognitive dimension (how we perceive and think about the conflict), the Emotional dimension (how we feel about the conflict) and the Behavioral dimension (how we act or what we do about the conflict). The model identifies how separating a conflict into these dimensions can help the practitioner intervene, and offers specific strategies
for working with each of the dimensions.
The Social Style model
This model is significantly different from all the rest of
the models because it focuses on understanding personality conflict, and conflict related to personal communication styles. Based on research similar to the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator but offering a much simpler framework for assessing personal styles, the Social Styles model suggests four basic personality and communication styles, or types, and offers clear skills and strategies for working with these personality characteristics in conflict situations.
The Moving Beyond model
One of the main barriers to resolution comes when people can’t let the conflict go and move on with their lives. A dispute can become such an important part of an individual’s life that he or she will not allow it to end. It feels as if something important is being lost. This is very similar to the process of grieving, and the Moving Beyond model helps identify the stages or steps parties often must go through in order to let it go and move beyond it.
Vent: Ask permission to vent first, rather than simply dumping a load on the other
Own: Here’s my contribution to the mess…
Moccassins: This is what I think/feel it’s like to be in your shoes.
Plan: What’s the plan going forward; how do we do different or not repeat
What other tools are there
to help us deal with conflict?
So what else do we as OD practitioners need to know?
Conflict can be both useful and detrimental, it all depends on how well you handle it
Improves decision-making quality
Allows the group to adopt new perspectives
Builds group unity, cohesion and solidarity
Impacts overall performance
Irrelevant group discussions
Low group morale, member satisfaction
Lack of cooperation
Examples of factors that can influence conflict
Deutsch’s 12 Commandments of Conflict Resolution
1. Know what type of conflict you are involved in.
2. Become aware of the causes and consequences of violence and of the alternatives to violence, even when one is very angry.
3. Face conflict rather than avoid it.
4. Respect yourself and your interests, respect the other and his or her interests.
5. Distinguish clearly between “interests” and “positions.”
6. Explore your interests and the other’s interests to identify the common and compatible interests that you both share.
7. Define the conflicting interests between oneself and the other as a mutual problem to be solved cooperatively.
8. In communicating with the other, listen attentively and speak so as to be understood: this requires the active attempt to take the perspective of the other and to check continually one’s success in doing so.
9. Be alert to the natural tendencies to bias, misperceptions, misjudgments, and stereotyped thinking that commonly occur in oneself as well as the other during heated conflict.
10. Develop skills for dealing with difficult conflicts so that one is not helpless nor hopeless when confronting those who are more powerful, those who do not want to engage in constructive conflict resolution, or those who use dirty tricks.
11. Know oneself and how one typically responds in different sorts of conflict situations.
a. Conflict avoidance–excessive involvement in conflict
e. Escalating versus minimizing
f. Compulsively revealing versus compulsively concealing
12. Remain a moral person and consider the other as a member of one’s moral community.
Other subjects related to conflict
In conflict, we may need to use negotiation techniques (e.g., win-win) to decide on the best solutions.
In conflict, we may use problem-solving approaches such as cause and effect diagrams to determine root causes.
In conflict, bases of power can significantly influence outcomes as well as determining appropriate conflict handling techniques.
Bitterness, Alienation, Divisiveness
Triggers of conflict
Are there different types of Conflict?
Karen A. Jehn
Walton has extensively researched interdepartmental conflict; he & Dutton produced a model of interdepartmental conflict that recognizes conflict and conflict-reinforcement syndromes.
Richard E. Walton
Jehn is known for her research in the relationship and differentiation between task conflict, relationship conflict, and process conflict and the impact of those on group.
In the 1970’s, Thomas & Kilmann developed the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict MODE instrument to measure behavior in conflict situations.
They identified behavior in the two dimensions of assertiveness and cooperativeness, and defined five modes for responding to conflict situations: competing, collaborating, compromising, avoiding, and accommodating.
Deutsch is a social psychologist and considered to be a founding father in the field of conflict resolution. He is particularly well known for his work in constructive and destructive conflict.
Bion was an influential British psychoanalyst whose work in group psychotherapy became a hallmark for application in group theory in a number of fields. He is known outside the psychoanalytic community for his work in group dynamics.
Exists objectively and is perceived accurately; is not contingent upon some easily altered feature of the environment
Contingent upon an easily altered feature of the environment
Where the parties are arguing about the wrong thing.
Conflict being experienced is the manifest conflict, while the one that is not being directly expressed is the underlying conflict
It's between the wrong parties and over the wrong issues
Conflict that should be occurring but is not
There is no objective basis for a conflict at all.
It occurs when there is misperception or misunderstanding. These types of conflicts are not mutually exclusive
Conflict (definition) http://www.ohrd.wisc.edu/onlinetraining/resolution/aboutwhatisit.htm#conflictstyles
Perceived threat http://www.ohrd.wisc.edu/onlinetraining/resolution/aboutwhatisit.htm#conflictstyles
Needs, interests, concerns http://www.ohrd.wisc.edu/onlinetraining/resolution/aboutwhatisit.htm#conflictstyles
Triggers to conflict
So what is conflict?
Conflict is... well...
Conflict is... hmmm
Let´s ask Rob!
Now, let´s go deeper into conflict
Types of Conflict http://www.google.com.mx/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CDAQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aom.pace.edu%2Famj%2FApril2001%2Fjehn.pdf&ei=T33JUu2KJsnN2wW-8oHgDw&usg=AFQjCNEOkapSrlFpSNOqvNDU1KJKBE1Iig&sig2=bKOdZ4nC_W2JDctOuObY-g&bvm=bv.58187178,d.b2I(this reference applies to all of the types of conflict listed below)
- Task Conflict
- Relationship Conflict
- Process Conflict
(this reference applies to all of the types of conflict listed below)
- Vertical Conflict
- Contingent Conflict
- Displaced Conflict
- Misattributed Conflict
- Latent Conflict
- False Conflict
Bion - http://yalom.com/tapinterventionscontent.html
Thomas & Kilmann – http://www.kilmanndiagnostics.com/
Conflict Resolution Toolkit http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470835176.html
(this reference applies to all of the types of conflict listed below)
- The Circle of Conflict
- The Triangle of Satisfaction
- The Boundary Model
- The Interest/Rights/Power Model
- The Dynamics of Trust Model
- The Dimensions Model
- The Social Style Model
- The Moving Beyond Model
- VOMP Model – http://www.primarygoals.org/models/vomp/
Conflict can be useful & detrimental
Awareness of styles helps people recognize that they have choices in how to respond to conflict. Since each style has a preferred way of interacting with others in conflict, style awareness also can greatly assist people in meeting the needs of those they live and work with.
Want to find out your TKI pattern? Go to
Collectivism vs Individualism http://books.google.com/books?id=dXs5DZFCRPsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Intercultural+Communication:+A+Reader&hl=en&sa=X&ei=qrLJUqa3LNDrkQfyx4DQAw&ved=0CEwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Intercultural%20Communication%3A%20A%20Reader&f=false
Deutch’s 12 Commandments of Conflict Resolution - http://media.wiley.com/product_data/excerpt/89/04700154/0470015489.pdf
Please note that the majority of the information in these slides is directly quoted from the references listed below