War and Peace

December 18, 2015

War and Peace

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HUMANS are complex beings, with a range of emotions, beliefs and needs. Often there is conflict when these characteristics clash with another person’s.

When they clash with someone we live or work with, it presents a problem that has to be dealt with. Conflict is normal in relationships — differences of perception, interpretation of events and opinion will be inevitable.

It is not conflict that damages relationships, it is the refusal or inability to deal with it that is the problem.

According to the Thomas Killman Model, there are five — and only five — strategies that can be used to manage conflict. It must be stressed that no strategy is, of itself, right or wrong. They may, however, be more, or less, applicable in the circumstances.

Domination or competition

This strategy results from a high concern for your group’s own interests with less concern for others. The outcome is “win/lose”. This strategy includes most attempts at bargaining. It is generally used when basic rights are at stake or to set a precedent. However, it can cause the conflict to escalate and losers may try to retaliate.

When to use:

•  When quick, decisive action is needed;

•  On important issues where unpopular actions need implementing;

•  On issues vital to the organisation’s welfare and when you believe you are right; and

•  Against people who take advantage of non–competitive behaviour.

Collaboration

This results from a high concern for your group’s own interests, matched with a high concern for the interests of other partners. The outcome is “win/win”.

This strategy is generally used when concerns for others are important. It is also generally the best strategy when society’s interest is at stake. This approach helps build commitment and reduce bad feelings.

The drawbacks are that it takes time and energy. In addition, some partners may take advantage of the others’ trust and openness. Generally regarded as the best approach to manage conflict, the objective of collaboration is to reach consensus.

When to use:

•  To find an integrative solution when both sets of concerns are too important to be compromised;

•  When your objective is to learn;

•  To merge insights from people with different perspectives; and

•  To work through feelings that have interfered with a relationship.

Compromise

This strategy results from a high concern for your group’s own interests along with a moderate concern for the interests of other partners. The outcome is “win some/lose some”.

This strategy is generally used to achieve temporary solutions, to avoid destructive power struggles or when time pressures exist. One drawback is that partners can lose sight of important values and long-term objectives. This approach can also distract the partners from the merits of an issue and create a cynical climate.

When to use:

•  When goals are important, but not worth the effort or potential disruption of more assertive modes;

•  To achieve temporary settlements of complex issues; and

•  To arrive at expedient solutions under time pressure.

Avoidance

This results from a low concern for your group’s own interests coupled with a low concern for the interests of others. The outcome is “lose/lose”.

This strategy is generally used when the issue is trivial or other issues are more pressing. It is also used when confrontation has a high potential for damage or more information is needed.

It may be beneficial for both parties to “shelve” the problem till the climate changes. This allows the two parties to maintain cordial relationships in the short to medium term. The drawbacks are that important decisions may be made by default.

When to use:

•  When an issue is trivial, or more important issues are pressing;

•  When you perceive no chance to satisfy your concerns;

•  When potential disruption outweighs the benefits of resolution;

•  To let people cool down and regain perspective; and

•  When gathering information supersedes immediate decisions.

Accommodation

This results from a low concern for your group’s own interests combined with a high concern for the interests of other partners. The outcome is “lose/win”.

This strategy is generally used when the issue is more important to others than to you. It is a “goodwill gesture”. It is also appropriate when you recognise that you are wrong. The drawbacks are that your own ideas and concerns don’t get attention. You may also lose credibility and future influence.

When to use:

•  When you find you are wrong — to allow a better position to be heard, to learn and show your reasonableness;

•  To build social credits for later issues;

•  To minimise loss when you are outmatched and losing; and

•  When harmony and stability are especially important.

Article by Chris Fenney, Co-founder and director of Training Edge International.

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