The essay critically evaluates the concept of building trust and strengthening relationships when resolving conflict within a workplace. The way to go about it is brought out clearly as well as the benefits of the same to both parties. Additionally, consequences, as well as benefits of workplace conflict, are brought to light.
Work conflict refers to a unique type of real or supposed differences in principles, concerns and opinions at the workplace. Conflicts can either be internal or external and at the same time categorized as substantive conflict or personalized conflict. Generally, workplace conflicts are caused by a myriad of factors for instance poor performance, personality clashes, differences in values and interests, poor communication, scarcity of resources, leadership, management, family issues, substance abuse to mention but a few (Cloke and Goldsmith 2000).
Consequences of conflict in the workplace
It has been noted that when work conflicts are not constructively and timely addressed, the consequences are far beyond our imagination as it can lead to low productivity, increase psychological stress, distrust, high rates of employee’s turnover, low quality, reduced creative collaboration, and team problem solving, poor customer satisfaction, gossip as well as delayed or missed deadlines. Broadly, the organization will not attain its predetermined desired goals and objectives (Sims, 2002).
It is thus the responsibility of leaders to ensure that the environment in the workplace enables employees to thrive and meet the objectives of the organization. Consequently, where people are, there are higher chances of there being a difference in opinion, values, and so on. This thus calls for conflict resolution; which refers to a set of mechanisms employed by persons, regional, and or international organizations to remove and address what caused conflict between and among groups of people (Daniel, 2000). It has emerged that in doing so, building strong relationships and trust is paramount to the successful process of resolving conflict.
Benefits of conflicts in the workplace
Workplace conflict although seen to be negative; should not be blinded not to see the good it brings. For instance, when the issue is addressed soberly and accepted, the process can result in better solutions to problems, foster employees’ motivation, improved communication, issues are clarified hence curbing such events occurring in the future, leads to greater understanding among employees hence improved workers relationship, low employee turnover, high productivity, reduced psychological hazards among others.
How to build trust in resolving conflicts
According to Runde & Flanagan, 2006 it has come to the limelight that however hard and well equipped those trying to resolve conflict are, without building trust among and between the involved party, success is not guaranteed, and if it is, then it is short-lived. A well-known mediator from Canada once held that, in conflict resolution, trust is of paramount importance, and doing without it can be very detrimental in the quest of trying to resolve conflict in the workplace or at any level in society. Trust according to Rousseau is a psychosomatic state that comprises the intent to admit to openness based on the positive prospect of the intent or deeds of other persons.
It is worth noting from the onset that building trust as a process is bilateral; calling for mutual commitment while trying to solve the conflict in the workplace. The steps that can be taken by those resolving the conflict to build trust include; performing competently, establishing consistency and predictability, communicating accurately, openly, and transparently, sharing and delegating duties and control, showing concerns for others, promoting those values shared as well as emotional attraction, creating joint products as well as goal, establishing a common identity and finally capitalizing on co-location (Lewicki, & Tomlinson, 2003).
Cloke et al., 2005suggested that, to build trust and strengthen the bond within the conflict resolution environment there is a need of creating an environment that makes both parties safe and at ease, not fixing blame or putting down or judging the parties, not asking threatening questions that are open-ended, trying as much as possible to show that as a mediator that you have no stake in the outcome, allowing the parties to air or discuss their issues without interruption, demonstrate impartiality, protecting the parties from threats, intimidation and disrespectful manners and finally making the parties know that you are listening much than talking are integral in building trust.
Communicating accurately and in a transparent manner help in building trust, to do this the mediator opts to be a good listener. In addition, being clear about the aim of one’s action as a mediator is of significance in fostering trust. This aids in making parties evaluate trustworthiness hence compliance.
Performing competently is also very paramount. Mediators acting proficiently including listening actively and acting impartially is a plus in building trust. For instance, there are cases that one needs to adopt technology to further their skills and abilities; this will make the parties contemplate trusting the mediator and indeed the other party (Lewicki, & Tomlinson, 2003).
On the same note, trying to bring out universal characteristics leads to a conducive surrounding auxiliary to make stronger the trust among and between the relevant parties. To attain this, there is a need to take part in negotiations that have in them the face of the entire group rather than individuals or sections. It is worth noting that when inclusiveness, as well as a universal distinctiveness, is cultivated, cases of differences and infighting are reduced fostering the relevant stakeholders to work in arriving at the necessary and awaited results.
Additionally, showing concern for the need of others is key in building trust and relationships in conflict resolution. It is worth noting that the trust held upon the other party and more so to the mediator grows especially when such individuals depict a sense of concern or compassion to the needs, interests as well as desires of others. To act in a manner that shows respect as well as protecting these people or parties’ interests and needs coupled with refraining from taking part in personal interest greatly contribute to trust bestowed upon the involved party (Cloke et al., 2005).
Last but not least, sharing and active involvement of all relevant parties in the entire process of conflict resolution–collaboration is of great significance in building trust. As noted previously, trust is a two-way thing, give and take. Value is usually derived when decisions made are seen or perceived to include the opinions of all relevant stakeholders. This eventually creates a scenario of ownership (Daniel, 2000). The reverse is true especially if a party feels it has been sidelined, then it will act against the arriving conclusion.
Benefits of building trust
According to Daniel, 2000 the benefits of building trust are many and include the following; it significantly cut down the time as well as efforts lost in trying to convince each party to arrive at a consensus, it creates an improved environment in which everyone involved in resolving the conflict feels secured and safe, more time is available for personal interaction hence fostering a deeper understanding of each other; especially the worrying parties, similarly, it foster a way through which individuals can express their anger, frustration in a constructive manner, there is improved corporation as a result of trust and close relationship among the relevant parties.
Additionally, the process of building trust provides an opportunity for all those involved to personally grow and increase their interpersonal skills, a higher degree of concern for the needs of other persons, tolerance as well as increased self-belief in handling more tricky cases (Richard, 2003).
From the review, it is evident that trust is very significant when trying to resolve workplace conflict. There are many ways in which one can build it while resolving conflict for instance performing competently, establishing consistency and predictability, communicating accurately openly and transparently, sharing and delegating duties and control, showing concerns for others among others. The benefit this brings is enormous and include significantly cutting down the time as well as efforts lost in trying to convince each party to arrive at a consensus, it creates an improved environment in which everyone involved in resolving the conflict feels secured and safe, more time is available for personal interaction hence fostering a deeper understanding of each other; especially the worrying parties. It is also worth noting that workplace conflict brings with it negative implications as well as some benefits.
- Interpersonal skills- Refers to personal skills and capability used by individuals to interact with other.
- Conflict resolution- refers to a set of mechanisms employed by persons, regional and or international organizations to remove and address what caused conflict between and among groups of people
- Impartially-Being in a position to exercise neutrality and avoid biasness. It implies being fair and just
- Mediators– Refers to either trained or untrained third party that help two worrying groups reach an agreement especially after a conflict/disagreement
- Compassion-it is having a deeper understanding of how the other person is suffering usually accompanied with the wish to aid in relieving them from such suffering.
- Universal characteristics-these are traits that are shared by person in the entire world or a larger portion of human population.
- Work conflict- refers to unique type of real or supposed differences in principles, concerns and opinions at workplace
- Conflict- unique type of real or supposed differences in principles, concerns and opinions
- Negotiation- refer to dialogue intended to resolve conflicts, to reach an agreement upon courses of actions, to bargain for individuals or collective advantage, or to craft outcomes to meet interest of various groups
- Interruption-Comment, actions or questions that breaks or bring to an end continuity of events in resolving conflicts
- Judging- Refers to the act of fo0rming an evaluation, estimation or opinion about persons or a group of persons involved in resolving workplace conflicts
- Communicating- the act of sharing of information between a sender and a receiver
- Party- In this context has been used to refer to individuals or a group of persons that take part in resolving conflict.
- Emotional attraction- in this context, it refers to a strong association between persons leading to liking and accommodation of their views and perceptions.
- Consistency- refers to an agreement with facts, forms as well as characteristics that were shown or stated in the past
- Predictability- Being in state of expectedness or ability to tell something in advance before it takes place usually by having inference shaped by past events.
- Psychosomatic-Issues that relate or influenced by human mind on their body and way of thinking
- Relationship-This refers to a particular kind of connection that exists between and among individuals that deal with one another.
- Substantive conflict-disagreement on issues but not dependent on personal attributes or dislike
- Personalized conflict-A kind of disagreement where the involved parties focus more on personal dislikes about the other person usually leading to more problems.
Cloke. K & Goldsmith, J. (2000). Resolving Personal and Organizational Conflict: Stories of Transformation and Forgiveness. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
Cloke, K et al., (2005). Resolving Conflicts at Work: Eight Strategies for Everyone on the Job. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Daniel, D. (2000). Conflict Resolution: Mediation Tools for Everyday Work life. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Lewicki, R.J & Tomlinson, E.C. (2003). Trust and Trust Building.
Richard, S. (2003). Trust in Mediation: The Importance of Trust in Mediation. Web.
Runde, C.E & Flanagan, T.A. (2006). Becoming a Conflict Competent Leader: How You and Your Organization Can Manage Conflict Effectively. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc Pub.
Sims, R. (2002). Managing Organizational Behavior. United States of America: Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc.