Communicating in the Wokplace
But the time Juggle was still difficult: ‘It was hard to come home from work at 1 1 P. M. And still have to write a paper that was due for an 8:30 A. M. Class. ‘ “Brigit is one of almost six million working students in the United States. Many of these students do much more than put in a few hours in the school cafeteria or library. They cannot afford a college education without working long hours at one or more off-campus Jobs, taking on heavy students loans, and using credit cards to fill in the gaps” (Mutate & Lake, 2003, p. 1). You may be able to relate to the challenges hat Brigit faced.
Working to support yourself and perhaps a family, carrying a demanding class load, and trying to find time for a personal life can provide fertile ground for both internal and external conflict. Although the term conflict can be read further in this chapter: Conflict is the internal or external tension that occurs when you experience difficulty in meeting important needs. Let’s take a closer look at what this definition is saying by examining another situation you may find familiar. Aaron was a student enrolled in an associate degree nursing program at a local community college.
He found himself struggling in his anatomy and physiology class to the point that by Midwestern, he was risking failing the course. As a result, he made the decision to withdraw from the course and take it again the following semester. However, Aaron faced a conflict. His parents had been helping to finance his education, and he assumed they would be furious to find out he dropped the course and lost out on the tuition money that was not refundable. Consequently, he held off telling his parents the news. This situation weighed heavily on his Francisco Iris. Published by Prentice Hall.
Copyright 2010 by Pearson Education, 158 mind, creating internal tension, or stress. He suspected too that once he did inform his parents about the class, external tension would occur in the form of a family argument. In addition, he feared that his parents might be reluctant to help him out financially with future schooling, an important need that he had. Situations like Aaron’s and Brig’s are not at all unusual. They are, in fact, representative of challenges that many of you face. Although both of these instances involve school and financial issues, you are likely to confront other sources of conflict as well.
Working with a difficult boss, experiencing relationship problems with a spouse, or dealing with a problematic child are Just a few other examples of conflicts you may encounter. However, in the middle of difficulties, opportunities exist as well. You may be surprised to discover that difficulties, like conflict, actually provide opportunities to experience a variety of benefits too. “Without conflict, attitudes, behavior, and relationships stay the same, regardless of whether they are fair. Conflict reveals problems and encourages those problems to be dealt with.
Whether they are dealt tit constructively or destructively depends on how the conflict is handled” (Brahms, 2004, p. 1). In other words, when you manage conflict effectively, you increase the likelihood of positive change in all areas of your life. An article titled “Conflict Resolution” by Frances Picker (2003) provided the following comparison of managed conflict versus out-of-control conflict. Encourages open communication and cooperative problem solving. Increases productivity. Deals with real issues and concentrates on win-win resolutions. Calms and focuses toward results.
Supports respectful workplace and client relationships ND a client satisfaction/service orientation. Facilitates an environment of openness and permission for service recovery and improvement. Source: Picker, 2003, p. 8. OUT-OF-CONTROL CONFLICT Damages relationships and discourages cooperation. Results in defensiveness and hidden agendas. Wastes time, money, and resources. Focuses on fault-finding and blaming. Is often loud, hostile, and chaotic. Results in considerable workplace/ client dissatisfaction and missed opportunities for service recovery.
Creates/sustains an environment of denial and missed opportunities for continuous improvement. 159 The benefits of conflict that is managed effectively can also be seen on an international scale. Some time ago, National Public Radio aired a report by Anne Carrels titled U. S. Soldiers Try to Bridge a Sectarian Gap in Iraq. The report told about U. S. Army Captain Eric Peterson, stationed in the district of north Galatia, a fault line between Shiite and Sunnis extremists. Carrels commented that, “Sunnis and Shiites once lived together in Galatia.
It was a pleasant, leafy area populated by professionals. In the past couple of years, Sunnis extremists have terrorized Shiites. Shiite militias, in turn, have threatened and killed Sunnis. As a result, this once peaceful neighborhood became a slum, with blocks and even streets defined by sect. Some families moved only a few yards to be with their own. Many houses were abandoned as residents fled the area altogether” (Carrels, 2007, p. 1). In view of this situation, 29-year-old Captain Peterson decided to try an experiment that involved calling a meeting between local Sunnis and Shiite leaders.
At the start of the talks, each side described the abuse inflicted by the other side. Peterson interrupted, and through an interpreter stated that the point of the talks was to move forward in an fort to restore peace to the area. Carrels stated, “Despite the inauspicious beginning and a certain amount of posturing, these men got down to business quickly, surprisingly quickly. They agreed they should choose one small area?maybe just a couple of streets?to show that with Peterson protection, people can return to their homes and that Shiites and Sunnis can live together again. ” Mr..
ABA Assam, a Sunnis resident of Galatia, stated, “Let us start with a square block and make it a neighborhood. It is impossible. But we can start with a square block. ” (Carrels, 2007, up. 1-2). Carrels concluded her report by stating that “even though these men know the risks, the local leaders keep on with their talks. They agree to weekly meetings. It’s a first step” (Carrels, 2007, p. 2). Now imagine for a moment if all government leaders and military personnel approached sectarian conflicts in the manner of Captain Peterson?with optimism, determination, and one small step at a time.
The dream of a peaceful global community might not be as seemingly impossible as most think. Conflict Types By now, you are probably more aware that conflict is both important and inevitable in your relationships. Joel Delano and Mary Beth Craig in The Tao of Negotiation (1994) have identified the most common causes of conflicts at work. They found that poor performance of an employee is seldom the cause of conflict, but rather, the five leading causes of conflict are as follows: 1 . Misunderstanding-miscommunication 2. Disrespect or disregard for other people 160 3. Conflicting egos 4. Impatience 5.
Fear and insecurity over loss of control (p. 238). Any of these factors can cause conflict in the workplace. Regardless of the cause, experts tell us that many types of conflicts challenge us every day. Borderer and Borderer in Inter-Act (1998) describe several different types of conflicts that we typically encounter: pseudo conflicts, fact conflicts, ego conflicts, and value conflicts (up. 337-340). In addition to these types, conflicts can also be centered on needs. Some conflicts are called pseudo conflicts. As their name suggests, they are not real conflicts, but are only perceived as conflicts.
Pseudo conflicts can result from two causes: faulty assumptions and false dilemmas. Take the situation that occurs when you and your partner agree to clean the office on Friday afternoon. At noon on Friday, you see your partner leave the building. Your first reaction may be that your partner is ducking out on the cleaning Job. When you assume that your partner left you to clean by yourself, you may be setting yourself up for a pseudo conflict. Although you may be right in your assumption, your partner may have gone shopping for cleaning supplies. Mistaking assumptions for facts may explain many pseudo conflicts.
Pseudo conflicts that result from false dilemmas occur when the parties involved see only two choices as solutions to a problem. For example, assume your boss has invited you to attend a twenty-hour violence prevention workshop, and you have a full schedule reshow and fall behind on the inventory or complete the inventory and disappoint the boss. In reality, other choices may be available: attend the workshop and ask for help with the inventory or explore the possibility of rescheduling the workshop until the inventory is complete. Fact conflicts are at hand when individuals disagree about information that could easily be verified.
What the tolerances are for machining a particular part, who has the best ERA record in the national league, and how many miles per gallon hybrid cars get are all questions that can be answered by consulting some reference. Rob and Sara recently experienced a fact conflict when they were assigned a collaborative project in their sociology class. Their instructor required the class members to choose a partner and seek to prove or disprove the following statement: “Individuals who live together before marriage have a higher divorce rate than those who do not live together before marriage. Rob felt that the statement was true because he knew of several couples who had cohabitate before marriage and divorced shortly thereafter. Sara, on the other hand, believed that couples would be more compatible in a long-term relationship if they lived together first. Rob and Sara had several heated discussions about their assigned topic until they realized that they would have to put their personal biases aside and do some objective research to uncover statistical data that either supported or disproved the position. Unfortunately, some people choose not to seek answers; rather, they turn fact conflicts into ego conflicts. 61 Ego conflicts occur when a dispute centers on status or power. The initial arguments may be over some factual question that could be answered easily. However, the ego conflict results when you argue over who has the “right” facts. The question of who it the most home runs in the major leagues last year becomes who knows more about baseball, you or me? Rather than solving problems or answering questions, those engaged in ego conflicts spend their energy proving their self-worth, their power, or their status to others. Don and Jarred were co-workers involved in an ego conflict.
Don had been employed by a small graphic design company for several years and was hoping for a promotion. Jarred was a recent graduate from the local community college with a graphic arts degree. Although Jarred had far less on-the-Job experience, he had lots of creative ideas and enthusiasm. Don felt threatened by worked together. Fortunately, unlike many ego conflicts, this one was managed effectively. After several weeks, Don took the courageous step and shared his feelings of inadequacy with Jarred. To Don’s surprise, Jarred disclosed that he valued the years of knowledge and skills Don brought to the Job.
As a result of Don’s honesty, the two workers were able to capitalize on one another’s strengths. Value conflicts focus on personal beliefs that you hold near and dear. You may value the right to organize workers and engage in collective bargaining. You may believe that employees should eve the right to choose their own health care providers. Perhaps you have difficulty with the way your co-worker treats customers. These issues are in the realm of value conflicts. Value conflicts frequently surface in personal relationships. For example, Debbie and Mark have been dating for several months and really enjoy one another’s company.
They have discussed the possibility of a long-term commitment, but both are concerned about their different religious faiths. Debbie was raised in a traditional Christian family and is very devoted to her church. Mark, on the other and, comes from a Hindu background and is equally devoted to his faith. Both are concerned about the religious differences they bring to their relationship, particularly if they decide to have children. Although neither Debbie nor Mark can concede to the other’s religious values at the present time, they have agreed to honor one another’s differences.
They also have decided that if their relationship becomes more serious, they will need to resolve their value differences in a way that allows both to maintain personal integrity. Need conflicts usually occur when the needs of one individual are at odds with the needs of another. When you need a tool to finish a Job and so does your co-worker, when you need time to complete a project for work and your spouse needs your help right now, or when you need to schedule a meeting at two o’clock and your team member can’t be there until three, you have a conflict of needs.
Sometimes need conflicts are easily resolved by redefining or restating the needs in a way that allows a mutually satisfying solution. For example, although you may need to start the meeting at two o’clock, you could schedule your team member’s presentation later on the agenda. You can give your spouse the help he or she wants eight now, if your spouse helps you with your project 162 afterwards. Finally, if you can’t share a tool in order to finish your Job, maybe one of you could borrow someone else’s. Often the needs of each person can be met if those needs are specifically stated and clearly understood by both.
These conflict types can overlap and complicate situations by masking the real issues and make status, values, or assumptions more important than problem solving. You may have You may have felt uncomfortable as you watched others argue and attack one another. You have perhaps questioned the benefit of conflict or wondered what good loud come from such behavior. Unfortunately, many conflicts are poorly managed, and people often let conflicts bring out the worst in them and their relationship. Therefore, you will find it helpful to review the various styles of conflict management that are discussed in the next section.
How do people behave in conflicts? Avoiders Accommodation Forces Compromisers Collaborators FIGURE 7. 1 Conflict Management Styles You will also discover that in addition to different types of conflict, people exhibit various styles when attempting to manage conflict. These styles include avoiders, comparators, forces, compromisers, and collaborators (figure 7. 1). Avoiders steer clear of conflict for a variety of reasons. If you are an avoider, you may lack the time, energy, confidence, or skills to engage in conflict.
In addition, you may be fearful that the conflict will escalate, or you may be doubtful that the parties involved can get their needs met. Avoiders try to stay away from conflict by leaving the situation, changing the subject, or simply agreeing to disagree without discussing the issues that precipitated the conflict. Although constant use of avoidance is not commended, you may choose this style as a means of buying time in order to think through the problem, as a way of temporarily defusing strong emotions, or as a means of limiting your involvement in a conflict that does not seem worth the time or effort required to resolve it.
On the other hand, avoidance may keep you from seeking a long-term solution to a conflict. Accommodation allow others to determine the outcome of the conflict. As an accommodate, you might prefer to maintain relationships by meeting the needs of others. You will “give in” to keep the peace. Accommodation value smooth relationships and don’t want to make waves or cause ruble for anyone. Accommodation may be most appropriate when the issue in conflict is not that important to you or when it is easy to make concessions to others.
Repeated attempts to accommodate others, however, may result in resentment and failure to get your own needs met. Conflict Styles Avoiders See conflict as hopeless and useless. Are impersonal or distant. Self mentally or physically. Lack commitment to finding solutions. Accommodation Believe conflict is destructive. Overvalue maintaining Remove relationships. Undervalue own needs. Don’t make waves. Want peace at any rice. 163 Forces expect to get their needs met regardless of Forces the costs. For the forcer, winning may provide a sense of Believe winning is the only thing. Accomplishment. In conflicts, you may put your needs first and sometimes with little or no regard for the needs of Love challenge and achievement. Others. You might see conflict as a win-or-lose situation in Express anger when others don’t agree. Which you must be the winner. Forces typically employ Are willing to sacrifice others who don’t agree. Persuasion with emotional appeals, strong deliveries, and persistence to get their needs met. They frequently are more interested in implementing their solution to a problem rather than listening to the opinions, needs, and feelings of others.
Forces are often impatient with others who do not see things their way. Although forcing can lower morale, Jeopardize relationships, and stifle creativity, in some situations, you might find this approach to be appropriate. For example, when decisions have to be made quickly or when a crisis must be addressed, forcing may be your most reasonable option. Compromisers think that those involved in the conflict Compromisers must each be prepared to give up something in order to reach Believe half a loaf is better than none. A solution.
Choosing the role of compromiser, you expect to settle for less than what would meet your needs. Compromise Want each side to gain something. Errs subscribe to the principle, “We must both give a little. ” Use voting or bargaining to decide. Compromisers usually employ maneuvering, negotiating, and Avoid the real issues. Trading in an attempt to find a solution. Finding some middle ground may provide a partial solution to a conflict. However, unmet needs may still remain, and for those involved, the commitment to the solution will be only lukewarm at best.
Sometimes, however, you may choose to compromise because the compromise represents a solution both you and the other party can “live with. ” This latter result is particularly acceptable when the nature of the disagreement isn’t of vital importance to you or the other party. Different from compromisers, collaborators believe Collaborators that both parties can and will get their needs met. The UN Believe both parties can meet their needs. Deridingly belief of collaborators is that if you understand one another’s needs, you will be able to find a way to meet See conflict as a natural way to meet needs. The parties’ needs. The question is not whose needs will Want to hear the needs of the other. Be met, but rather how you will meet the needs of both View the other as equal in a conflict. Parties. Collaborators share specific information about what they need and listen to possible solutions a creative experience. Both parties feel committed to the process and the solution because both sets of needs are met. This style has the advantages of promoting collaboration, creativity, and commitment. However, collaborating can seem unattainable to you when the needs of those involved are not clearly stated or understood.