Conflicts are an a priori circumstance of any social interaction: from interpersonal arguments to international wars. All species have their own conflict resolution schemes, and humans are no exception. The problem becomes an issue of particular interest in both modern academia and the business world. Conflict management is now well-analyzed: there are various styles and strategies to overcome such a challenge. Some are more effective in a democratic leadership model, others – when a manager is more authoritarian, and it is extremely important to understand how to apply a strategy. Nevertheless, it is fair to discuss a number of skills a manager needs to execute conflict resolution effectively. They all can be developed, but it is evident that some people feel more comfortable demonstrating their communication skills such as empathy and emotional and cultural intelligence, for instance.
To begin with, analysis of any phenomenon requires an understanding of its basic notions. First, conflict is a form of social interaction caused by a clash of interest. Secondly, conflict management can be understood as “deliberate action to deal with conflictive situations, either to prevent or to escalate them” (Elgoibar et al. 8). It is a special type of conflict behavior that must include the creation of effective strategies to minimize a conflict’s damage and use it as a contribution to teamwork (Elgoibar et al. 9). The idea of conflict being productive seems controversial; however, as Larasati and Raharja claim, it may boost creativity, adaptation, and innovations (193). In other words, conflict management is the ability to decrease the risks posed by a confrontation and to use the opportunities it offers to increase a team’s productivity.
Speaking of the skills that need to be developed for successful conflict management, awareness of them is essential for anyone’s future career. Firstly, it is fair to state that communication skills are vital for maximizing the chances of benefitting from a conflict situation (Elgoibare et al. 8). For instance, this ability becomes very important when one needs to apologize or maintain a positive atmosphere in a team. Secondly, Gonclaves et al. believe that cultural intelligence is another frequently underestimated factor of conflict management effectiveness (738). Moreover, emotional intelligence – an ability to understand one’s feelings – appears to be extremely important as individuals’ different personalities define their behavior in a conflict situation (Ayub et al. 672). Another aspect of this skill is empathy: some people initially have this trait, but some may only develop the ability to feel people around. However, there are also other conflict management dimensions: creative problem solving, which goes hand-in-hand with stress resistance. Being able to develop outstanding ideas on overcoming any challenge is an undoubtedly valuable skill in one’s manager’s eyes. This ability can be demonstrated during brainstorms, conflict analysis, fair resolution, and decision making.
Finally, there are various models of conflict management articulated by modern academia. For instance, the transactional analysis explains conflicts as a triangle of a victim, perpetrator, and rescuer (Bhattacharyya 107). Moving on, the conflict resolution process insists on the necessity of colleagues to self-manage their confrontational situations (Bhattacharyya 110). Other options, such as the nonviolent communication approach, focus on the empathy mentioned above and the ability to face a conflict (Bhattacharyya 107). Negotiations move an individual from opposing factions to creative collaboration that appears to be an apotheosis of successful conflict management (Bhattacharyya 113). Another aspect is respect to authority: its awareness may neutralize confrontations that would occur due to misunderstanding of powers and responsibilities (Bhattacharyya 126). The choice of conflict management approach also depends on the leadership model established in a concrete corporate culture: a democratic manager might prioritize the communicational strategies that focus on negotiations and empathic behavior. Meanwhile, an authoritarian leader appears to be more likely to appeal to status and authority. Therefore, different approaches seem to be appropriate for various situations and character traits, as well as management style and corporate culture.
To conclude, conflict management is a problematic notion, understanding of which requires an individual to be aware of all its levels. On the one hand, while the conflict’s nature is controversial, it is a clash of interests among individuals. On the other hand, its management includes two aspects: minimizing conflict’s damage and maximizing the opportunities a confrontation provides. Studies show that such a social situation can contribute to a team’s productivity of full value if a manager understands the perspectives it offers. As for the personal traits that are required for successful conflict management, on the top, there is communication. It allows employees and managers to productively end a conflict, apologize, and maintain a positive atmosphere within a group. Furthermore, cultural and emotional intelligence provides one with an ability to understand another person’s feelings, put themselves in their place, and empathize overall. However, there also must be a place for authority and status respect that would allow individuals to overcome confrontations based on this understanding. Nevertheless, various conflict management strategies have to be chosen carefully, taking into consideration a corporate culture and leadership style.
Ayub, Nailah, AlQurashi, Suzan, Al-Yafi, Wafa, and Karen Jehn. “Personality traits and conflict management styles in predicting job performance and conflict.” International Journal of Conflict Management, 28(5), 2017, pp. 671 – 694.
Bhattacharyya, Siddhartha. Strategic Approaches for Conflict Resolution in Organizations: Emerging Research and Opportunities. IGI Global, 2020.
Elgoibar, Patricia, Euwema, Martin, and Lourdes Mundate. “Conflict Management”. Oxford Research Encyclopedia, Web.
Gonclaves, Gabriela, Reis, Marta, Sousa, Catia, Santos, Joano, Orgambidez-Ramos, Alejandro, and Peter Scott. “Cultural Intelligence and Conflict Management Styles.” International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 24(4), 2016, pp. 725 – 742.
Larasati, Rahayu, and Setya Raharja. “Conflict Management in Improving Schools Effectiveness.” Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, 397, 2019, pp. 191 – 197.