Everybody knows the importance of communication in the workplace. Communication, whether it is employee to employee or employee to employer, is what leads to building of relationships in an organization, a prerequisite to increase the work productivity among the employees. However, when people work together in an organization and communicate on a daily basis, they might have different opinions and takes, pertaining to the various issues in the organization. If this difference in opinion grows and becomes personal or starts affecting the work, it is time that the people in the organization think of conflict management strategies, before the situation gets out of hand.
According to Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann, there are five different strategies that a manager can choose from, to resolve the conflict. Here are the conflict management styles in the workplace, explained:
This style is nonassertive as well as non cooperative. According to the avoidance strategy, if there is no great need to resolve the conflict, then it is better to avoid, ignore, or completely evade it. This strategy, however, does not work in the long term as the warring individuals will most likely have to work together again, being in the same organization.
This strategy of conflict management is cooperative yet nonassertive. It professes to let the other person's needs be met at the expense of one's own needs. This strategy can prove to be useful if a person is not concerned too much about the issue or if the other person is in a much more powerful position in the organization. The positive thing about using this strategy is that it can help in building relationships in the organization. One drawback of this strategy is that a person's accommodating nature might be considered a weakness and hence, he is never taken seriously in the future.
This strategy is the right mix of assertiveness and cooperation. It emphasizes on resolving the issue by taking the opinions of both the parties into consideration. In this no one loses or wins, rather a middle way or solution, which is acceptable to both the parties is sought.
This strategy is all about assertiveness without even a hint of cooperation. According to it, a person is concerned only about his own needs and does not care much about his relationship with the other person in the conflict. Competition strategy is useful in situations in which some important deadlines have to be met. The main drawback of this strategy is that it can make a person very unpopular in the organization.
Collaboration strategy is used in situations in which the issues to be resolved are equally important to all. This strategy is by far the most difficult to apply as it requires a great deal of patience, effort, and skill on a person's part. This strategy professes to acknowledge all the differences between both the parties and find solutions that are acceptable to all. For this strategy to be successful, both the parties need to be committed to find a common solution.
Out of these five strategies, a person should opt for the strategy keeping factors such as importance of the issue at hand, importance of the relationship with the other party, time in hand to resolve the conflict, as well as the power equation of both the parties, in mind. Although, most people tend to select the strategy which is closest to their personality, yet having knowledge of all the conflict management styles as well as the factors mentioned here, can increase a person's ability to work his way through the conflict and thus, aid in business stability and growth.