Analyzing Personal Conflict Management Styles Essay
Conflict management is the detriment of many teams or groups in accomplishing its goals. This is because most people do not understand the different conflict styles and how to apply the rules and principles associated with the style you may be dealing with. In this paper I will analyze three of the five management styles discussed in the textbook Communication in Small Groups. Avoidance and competition are two styles that I believe have the greatest effect on hindering a group or team from accomplishing its goals.
Collaboration, however, is a style that I believe is most effective in assisting a team in attaining its goals. This is a style that I use not only in my professional life but also in my personal life and have seen the difference this style of conflict management makes on individuals who are approached with this technique. Avoidance, according to the Collins English Dictionary is “the act of keeping away from or preventing from happening. ” This definition sums up the reason I believe that of the five conflict managing styles, this one is among the top reasons some teams fail at achieving their goals.
Whether it is just that a person does not like confrontation, are afraid to voice his or her true opinions out of fear, or simply do not want to hurt another person’s feelings, the simple fact remains that the team may not be aware of everything they need to consider. They miss the opportunity to be more objective in reaching an educated decision on the goals the team is trying to attain. This can also lead to members of the team feeling as though a member does not care and give them reason to discount whatever input that member may have.
It is important to remember that there are certain instances when avoidance is needed to move the team along. For instance if what is causing the conflict is something trivial that will not have an adverse effect on the ultimate goal of the team it is likely a good idea to avoid it. It may be also be a good idea to use this method temporarily to give a team time to gather their thoughts on an important issue they need to resolve, but cannot get certain members to be objective or reasonable because they are standing firm behind their point of view. Competition is a conflict management style exactly opposite of avoidance.
This is a very confrontational style, which characteristics consist of forcefully persuading others that their position is the only correct position. A person who exerts this style in most cases seeks to win with the intent of another person losing. They want control and work to achieve it no matter what. This type of style is infectious to a team. It is hard for a team to work at attaining a common goal if the level of competition in the team is such that no one can agree. Competition often leads to unethical ways of trying to persuade others in the team like shouting, or even threatening.
These types of behaviors lead to defensiveness and distrust as members may feel as if they are forced into a decision rather than arriving at a decision on their own. Again, just like with all management styles it is not always a bad thing to be competitive. When working as a team it is important to remember the goals of the team and be mindful that the actions taken are working toward that goal. No matter how right a person is individually, he or she must find a way to get the rest of the team to agree that their point of view is correct or the best action for the goal the team is trying to accomplish.
Otherwise, they will accomplish nothing and alienate themself from the team. The other members of the team can again feel as if that member does not care about what is best for the team and discount his or her ideas as one sided. Of all of the conflict management styles, collaboration is the style that most researchers agree is the best for achieving the goals of a team. “To collaborate is to have a high concern for both yourself and others” (Beebe & Masterson, 2009, p. 52). This common belief among users of this style drives them to search for answers using all of the tools at the team’s disposal.
The different dynamics of the team become assets. They see the differences that distinguish the members of the team as points of view are respected and viewed objectively. Differences like a male versus a female’s perspective, race, culture, and even social or economic status are viewpoints that give all in the team a bigger picture of the different issues they may need to consider when coming to a conclusion about how best to achieve their goal. Though this style is thought of as the best route for teams to use, it is lso one of the most difficult.
Even a person who has a natural talent or personality that promotes this style of conflict management has to practice to be effective using this style in a team setting. A person cannot be judgmental and must be sure not to take anything said personally. This is something that most if not all of the team members must have an awareness of. All team members have to feel comfortable with the results and with what was given up from their own personal point of view to arrive at the team’s decision.
This style is also very demanding so it requires a good amount of patience. Depending on how quick a decision is needed it is not always possible for a team to achieve and some in the team may not believe that their best interests were achieved. I realized through this research that I am a person who naturally uses the collaboration style of conflict management in many areas of my life. In my relationship with my wife, I use collaboration as a way to strengthen our alliance in running our household.
Feeling as if we are a team benefits the decisions we make for our family. Our children see us as united in our decision making. This is something we had to work to achieve and collaboration was the key to its success. We had a competitive style at first and our children would use that fact to split us up on decisions that we made pertaining to them. I could break that cycle by focusing on putting our ego’s aside. Our discussions were no longer about who was right or wrong. It was a process that started with accommodation to show I was willing to take the first step.
That eventually grew into compromise, which is what most couples strive for. Finding a middle ground gives most couples the sense that they are working as a team. Collaboration, however, is the ability of that team not to find a middle ground, but actively work to agree and the best plan or action together by understanding and processing each other’s viewpoint to come up with decisions together. It is a style that comes in handy when training my children on the importance of being responsible and accountable for their actions.
Collaborating on goals so that they are part of the decision-making process empowers them to believe they have control over what decisions they make. In my school and professional life collaboration has proven to be a way to drive for results. Team members work better when they are at ease in their decision-making, and everyone is comfortable with each other. Disagreements work themselves out with little stress because of the trust established through everyone’s willingness to collaborate on the goals set in place.
Because the goals were set together, everyone has a vested interest in its outcome and most want that outcome to be a successful one. When I do encounter a person on my team with a conflicting style, I tend to take some time away from the situation to evaluate the best course of action for our progress. I take into account the level of importance our issue may have on our ultimate goal and what if any ethical issues are involved. Collaboration, though it is my favorite approach, is not always the approach I may use to resolve the issue.
I am not one to avoid the issue entirely, but I have had to use accommodation, compromise, and even competition depending on what the issue is and what personality I am dealing with. In conclusion, you can see that there is no one way to manage conflict. I believe that being able to adapt to the different conflict styles will assist a person in overcoming conflict. Collaboration best supports a person who is adaptable and best supports a team’s objective because it focuses on the goals of the team by giving each person on the team’s needs equal importance.
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