Styles of handling conflict

From CEOpedia | Management online

Management styles of handling conflict are approaches to resolving disagreements between team members, stakeholders and/or other parties that are involved in the project. These styles focus on identifying and addressing underlying issues, finding solutions that are acceptable to all parties, and minimizing the risk of future disputes. The most common styles are Compromising (seeking a middle ground solution), Collaborating (working together to find a solution that fully meets both parties’ needs), Avoiding (ignoring the issue and hoping it will go away), Accommodating (giving in to the other party’s demands) and Competing (using power and force to win). Each style has its own strengths and weaknesses and should be used in the appropriate context.

Example of styles of handling conflict

  • Compromising: Compromising involves finding a middle ground between two parties. For example, if two team members have different opinions about a project timeline, a compromise might be to adjust the timeline to meet both parties’ needs.
  • Collaborating: Collaborating involves working together to find a mutually beneficial solution. For example, if two team members disagree on a design element, they can work together to find a solution that meets both of their needs.
  • Avoiding: Avoiding conflict involves ignoring the issue and hoping it will go away. For example, if two team members have different opinions about a project budget, one team member may choose to avoid the conflict by not addressing the issue.
  • Accommodating: Accommodating involves giving in to the other party’s demands. For example, if two team members disagree on a project deadline, one team member may choose to accommodate the other person by agreeing to the deadline they proposed.
  • Competing: Competing involves using power and force to win. For example, if two team members disagree on a project strategy, one team member may choose to take a competitive stance and insist that their strategy be implemented.

Best practices of styles of handling conflict

  1. Listen and Understand: The first step in addressing any conflict is to listen and understand the needs and perspectives of the other parties involved. This helps to build trust and gain insight into how to best resolve the conflict.
  2. Focus on the Issue: It is important to focus on the issue at hand, rather than on the people involved. This helps to prevent feelings of personal attacks and allows the parties to work together to resolve the conflict.
  3. Use Open Communication: Open communication is essential for resolving conflicts. All parties should be given the opportunity to express their concerns and opinions in a respectful manner.
  4. Explore Options: To find a solution that is acceptable to all parties, it is important to explore different options and brainstorm possible solutions.
  5. Seek Win-Win Solutions: It is important to focus on finding a solution that is beneficial to all parties involved in the conflict, not just one party. This helps to ensure that all parties are satisfied with the outcome.
  6. Monitor and Follow Up: It is important to monitor the progress of the conflict resolution process and follow up with the parties involved to ensure that the agreement is being followed.

Steps of styles of handling conflict

A successful approach to resolving conflicts involves several steps. These steps include:

  • Identifying the conflict: The first step is to identify the underlying issues that are causing the conflict. This involves actively listening to each party’s point of view and understanding their needs and interests.
  • Exploring options: Once the issues have been identified, the parties should explore different options for resolving the conflict. This can involve brainstorming, negotiating, or exploring alternate solutions.
  • Developing a resolution: The parties should develop a solution that meets both their needs and interests. This can involve finding a compromise or working together to create a win-win solution.
  • Implementing the resolution: The parties should agree on a plan to implement the resolution and ensure that it is followed. This can involve setting timelines, assigning tasks, and monitoring progress.
  • Evaluating the resolution: Once the resolution is implemented, both parties should evaluate its effectiveness. This will help identify any areas for improvement and ensure that the resolution is effective in the long term.

Limitations of styles of handling conflict

The styles of handling conflict have several limitations. These include:

  • Compromising can lead to a lack of commitment from the parties involved in the resolution of the conflict, as they may not be fully satisfied with the outcome.
  • Collaborating can be time-consuming and require a significant investment of resources to ensure that a mutually beneficial solution is reached.
  • Avoiding can lead to the underlying issues never being addressed, resulting in further conflict in the future.
  • Accommodating can lead to one party feeling disempowered and resentful, as they may not feel their needs were adequately taken into account.
  • Competing can lead to animosity and resentment between the parties involved, as one party is seen as having "won" and the other as having "lost".

Other approaches related to styles of handling conflict

In addition to the five major project management styles of handling conflict, there are also several other approaches which can be used to find a resolution to a disagreement. These include:

  • Problem Solving: This approach involves working together to identify the root cause of the conflict, brainstorming solutions, and then selecting the most viable option. It is important to stay focused on the underlying problem, rather than getting caught up in emotions and personal agendas.
  • Negotiation: This involves the parties involved in the conflict discussing their needs and interests and working together to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. It is important to be open to compromise and to be willing to give a little in order to gain something in return.
  • Mediation: In this approach, a neutral third party is brought in to help the conflicting parties reach a resolution. The mediator will help the parties to identify their interests and to understand each other’s perspectives.
  • Collaborative Decision Making: This approach involves all of the parties involved in the conflict coming together to brainstorm solutions, evaluate each option, and make a decision that meets the needs of everyone involved.

By using a combination of these approaches, project managers can effectively resolve conflicts, maintain positive relationships with stakeholders, and ensure the success of the project.

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