A team is a small group of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.1 Although student teams may not satisfy all the requirements of the definition, the degree to which they do often determines their effectiveness.
“Students do not come to school with all the social skills they need to collaborate effectively with others. Therefore, teachers need to teach the appropriate communication, leadership, trust, decision making, and conflict management skills to students and provide the motivation to use these skills in order for groups to function effectively.”2 Faculty must take responsibility to help students develop their skills to participate on and lead teams.
Students bring different ideas, goals, values, beliefs and needs to their teams and these differences are a primary strength of teams. These same differences inevitably lead to conflict, even if the level of conflict is low. Since conflict is inevitable, one of the ways in which faculty members can help students improve their abilities to function on multidisciplinary teams is to work with them to develop their understanding of conflict and their capabilities to manage and resolve conflict. To this end, this document addresses the following questions: • What is conflict and conflict management? • Why learn more about conflict and conflict management? • How do people respond to conflict? • What modes do people use to address conflict? • What factors can affect our conflict modes? • How might you select your conflict management style? • How might you apply this information?
Some conflicts are inevitable and are predestined; many disputes relating to property management are quite preventable especially where the property manager exhibits high level of professionalism. The relationship between the landlord and tenant is like cat and dog (Ebinama, 2011). Lee (2010) warned that conflict can be a breeding ground for disruption and viciousness; it can cause emotional pain ...
Why learn more management?
Listening, oral communication, interpersonal communication, and teamwork rank near the top of skills that employers seek in their new hires.3 When you learn to effectively manage and resolve conflicts with others, then more opportunities for successful team memberships are available to you. If we can learn to manage this highly probable event called conflict (we average five conflicts per day),4 then we are less apt to practice destructive behaviors that will negatively impact our team. Although conflict may be misunderstood and unappreciated, research shows that unresolved conflict can lead to aggression.
Most of us use conflict skills that we observed growing up, unless we have made a conscious effort to change our conflict management style. Some of us observed good conflict management, while others observed faulty conflict management. Most of us have several reasons to improve our conflict-management skills. Faculty members should help students develop their conflict management skills. Most people do not resolve conflicts because they either have a faulty skill set and/or because they do not know the organization’s policy on conflict management. All team members need to know their conflict styles, conflict intervention methods, and strategies for conflict skill improvement.
What is conflict and conflict management?
Conflict may be defined as a struggle or contest between people with opposing needs, ideas, beliefs, values, or goals. Conflict on teams is inevitable; however, the results of conflict are not predetermined. Conflict might escalate and lead to nonproductive results, or conflict can be beneficially resolved and lead to quality final products. Therefore, learning to manage conflict is integral to a high-performance team.
Although very few people go looking for conflict, more often than not, conflict results because of miscommunication between people with regard to their needs, ideas, beliefs, goals, or values. Conflict management is the principle that all conflicts cannot necessarily be resolved, but learning how to manage conflicts can decrease the odds of nonproductive escalation. Conflict management involves acquiring skills related to conflict resolution, self-awareness about conflict modes, conflict communication skills, and establishing a structure for management of conflict in your environment.
By reading the Southfield Case, one can quickly realize that there is definitely lack of direct communication and goal expectations between both Mark Sanders, Vp of account services and Frank Belby, Reginald manager. I believe, there was a lack of supportive communication between Mark and Frank since in the case it was mentioned that Belby viewed professional guidance from Sanders as threatening ...
How do people respond to conflict? Fight or flight?
Physiologically we respond to conflict in one of two ways—we want to “get away from the conflict” or we are ready to “take on anyone who comes our way.” Think for a moment about when you are in conflict. Do you want to leave or do you want to fight when a conflict presents itself? Neither physiological response is good or bad—it’s personal response. What is important to learn, regardless of our initial physiological response to conflict, is that we should intentionally choose our response to conflict. Whether we feel like we want to fight or flee when a conflict arises, we can deliberately choose a conflict mode. By consciously choosing a conflict mode instead of to conflict, we are more likely to productively contribute to solving the problem at hand. Below are five conflict response modes that can be used in conflict.
What modes do people use to address conflict?
All people can benefit, both personally and professionally, from learning conflict management skills. Typically we respond to conflict by using one of five modes: 5 • Competing • Compromising • Avoiding • Collaborating • Accommodating
The compromising mode is moderate assertiveness and moderate cooperation. Some people define compromise as “giving up more than you want,” while others see compromise as both parties winning. Times when the compromising mode is appropriate are when you are dealing with issues of moderate importance, when you have equal power status, or when you have a strong commitment for resolution. Compromising mode can also be used as a temporary solution when there are time constraints. Compromising Skills • Negotiating • Finding a middle ground • Assessing value • Making concessions
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Each of these modes can be characterized by two scales: assertiveness and cooperation. None of these modes is wrong to use, but there are right and wrong times to use each. The following sections describe the five modes. The information may help each team member to characterize her/his model for conflict management. How to discern your conflict mode The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI)5 is a widely used assessment for determining conflict modes. The assessment takes less than fifteen minutes to complete and yields conflict scores in the areas of avoiding, competing, compromising, accommodating, and collaborating.
The competing conflict mode is high assertiveness and low cooperation. Times when the competing mode is appropriate are when quick action needs to be taken, when unpopular decisions need to be made, when vital issues must be handled, or when one is protecting self-interests. • Arguing or debating • Standing your ground Competing Skills • Using rank or influence • Stating your position clearly • Asserting your opinions and feelings
The avoiding mode is low assertiveness and low cooperation. Many times people will avoid conflicts out of fear of engaging in a conflict or because they do not have confidence in their conflict management skills. Times when the avoiding mode is appropriate are when you have issues of low importance, to reduce tensions, to buy some time, or when you are in a position of lower power. Avoiding Skills • Ability to withdraw • Ability to sidestep issues • Ability to leave things unresolved • Sense of timing
The collaborating mode is high assertiveness and high cooperation. Collaboration has been described as “putting an idea on top of an idea on top of an idea…in order to achieve the best solution to a conflict.” The best solution is defined as a creative solution to the conflict that would not have been generated by a single individual. With such a positive outcome for collaboration, some people will profess that the collaboration mode is always the best conflict mode to use. However, collaborating takes a great deal of time and energy. Therefore, the collaborating mode should be used when the conflict warrants the time and energy.
As humans, conflict pervades every aspect of our lives; it is inevitable. However, conflict varies on a scale. With a minor conflict being an argument between two friends, which therefore has a minor outcome that soon becomes forgotten, or it can be a severe conflict, such as war, which results in a large life-changing result. The most tragic consequence of war is the impact on innocent parties. ...
For example, if your team is establishing initial parameters for how to work effectively together, then using the collaborating mode could be quite useful. On the other hand, if your team is in conflict about where to go to lunch today, the time and energy necessary to collaboratively resolve the conflict is probably not beneficial. Times when the collaborative mode is appropriate are when the conflict is important to the people who are constructing an integrative solution, when the issues are too important to compromise, when merging perspectives, when gaining commitment, when improving relationships, or when learning. Collaboration Skills • Active listening • Nonthreatening confrontation • Identifying concerns • Analyzing input
The accommodating mode is low assertiveness and high cooperation. Times when the accommodating mode is appropriate are to show reasonableness, develop performance, create good will, or keep peace. Some people use the accommodating mode when the issue or outcome is of low importance to them. The accommodating mode can be problematic when one uses the mode to “keep a tally” or to be a martyr. For example, if you keep a list of the number of times you have accommodated someone and then you expect that person to realize, without your communicating to the person, that she/he should now accommodate you. Accommodating Skills • Forgetting your desires • Selflessness • Ability to yield • Obeying orders
What factors can affect our conflict modes?
Some factors that can impact how we respond to conflict are listed below with explanations of how these factors might affect us. • Gender Some of us were socialized to use particular conflict modes because of our gender. For example, some males, because they are male, were taught “always stand up to someone, and, if you have to fight, then fight.” If one was socialized this way he will be more likely to use assertive conflict modes versus using cooperative modes. • Self-concept How we think and feel about ourselves affect how we approach conflict. Do we think our thoughts, feelings, and opinions are worth being heard by the person with whom we are in conflict? • Expectations Do we believe the other person or our team wants to resolve the conflict? • Situation Where is the conflict occurring, do we know the person we are in conflict with, and is the conflict personal or professional? • Position (Power) What is our power status relationship, (that is, equal, more, or less) with the person with whom we are in conflict?
The team-based organization has caused a change in the way groups are managed. "In fact, nothing has contributed more to the escalation of conflict than the advent of collaborative, team-based work" (Caudron 1998). Management cannot ignore conflict. They must manage it properly in order to gain its benefits. "People should not be talked out of their differences but be given opportunities to ...
• Practice Practice involves being able to use all five conflict modes effectively, being able to determine what conflict mode would be most effective to resolve the conflict, and the ability to change modes as necessary while engaged in conflict. • Determining the best mode Through knowledge about conflict and through practice we develop a “conflict management understanding” and can, with ease and limited energy, determine what conflict mode to use with the particular person with whom we are in conflict. • Communication skills The essence of conflict resolution and conflict management is the ability to communicate effectively. People who have and use effective communication will resolve their conflicts with greater ease and success.
• Life experiences As mentioned earlier, we often practice the conflict modes we saw our primary caretaker(s) use unless we have made a conscious choice as adults to change or adapt our conflict styles. Some of us had great role models teach us to manage our conflicts and others of us had less-than-great role models. Our life experiences, both personal and professional, have taught us to frame conflict as either something positive that can be worked through or something negative to be avoided and ignored at all costs. Discerning how we manage our conflict, why we manage conflict the way we do, and thinking about the value of engaging in conflict with others are important. With better understanding we can make informed choices about how we engage in conflict and when we will engage in conflict. The next section provides points for us to consider when determining if we will enter into a conflict situation or not.
How might you select your conflict management style?
There are times when we have a choice to engage in or avoid a conflict. The following six variables should be considered when you decide whether to engage in a conflict. 1. How invested in the relationship are you? The importance of the working/personal relationship often dictates whether you will engage in a conflict. If you value the person and/or the relationship, going through the process of conflict resolution is important. 2. How important is the issue to you? Even if the relationship is not of great value to you, one must often engage in conflict if the issue is important to you. For example, if the issue is a belief, value, or regulation that you believe in or are hired to enforce, then engaging in the conflict is necessary. If the relationship and the issue are both important to you, there is an even more compelling reason to engage in the conflict.
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3. Do you have the energy for the conflict? Many of us say, “There is not time to do all that I want to do in a day.” Often the issue is not how much time is available but how much energy we have for what we need to do. Even in a track meet, runners are given recovery time before they have to run another race. Energy, not time, is being managed in these situations. 4. Are you aware of the potential consequences Prior to engaging in a conflict, thinking about anticipated consequences from engaging in the conflict is wise. For example, there may be a risk for your safety, a risk for job loss, or an opportunity for a better working relationship. Many times people will engage in conflict and then be shocked by the outcome or consequence of engaging in the conflict. Thoughtful reflection about the consequences, both positive and negative, is useful before engaging in or avoiding a conflict.
5. Are you ready for the consequences? After analyzing potential consequences, determine whether you are prepared for the consequences of engaging in the conflict. For example, one employee anticipated a job loss if she continued to engage in the conflict she was having with her boss over a particular issue. After careful consideration, the employee thought and believed strongly enough about the issue that she did engage in the conflict with her boss. Her annual contract was not renewed for the upcoming year. Because this individual had thought through the consequences of engaging in the conflict, she was prepared to be without a job for a while and able to financially and emotionally plan for this outcome. Most consequences of engaging in conflict are not this severe, but this example illustrates the value of thinking through consequences.
6. What are the consequences if you do not engage in the conflict? To avoid losing a sense of self, there are times when you must engage in conflict. Most people have core values, ideas, beliefs, or morals. If a person is going to sacrifice one of their core beliefs by avoiding a conflict, personal loss of respect must be considered. In such cases, even if a person is not excited about confronting the conflict, one must carefully consider the consequences of evading the conflict. When the personal consequences of turning away from the conflict outweigh all other factors, then a person usually must take part in the conflict.
How might individual students apply this information to improve their conflict management skills? Applying the preceding information about the five different modes of conflict management, factors affecting models of conflict management, and processes for selecting one or more approaches to conflict involves both self-awareness and an awareness of the others involved in the conflict. In terms of self-awareness, reflecting on the following questions would provide useful information in selecting how to approach a conflict situation. 1. Am I in conflict? 2. With whom am I in conflict? 3. Why am I motivated to resolve the conflict? 4. What conflict mode am I going to use to manage this conflict? Since conflict involves at least two people, improving awareness of the other party involved in a conflict might also be useful in choosing how to approach a conflict situation. Reflecting on the following questions might improve awareness of the other party involved in a confliction.
1. What is the nature of the conflict, that is, what is the conflict about? 2. What might motivate the other person(s) involved to resolve the conflict? 3. What conflict modes is the other person using? 4. How might I Intervene to resolve/manage the conflict? Learning more about conflict allows greater intentionality in selecting a conflict response. Most people have set reactions to conflicts. By learning more about principles of conflict, conflict modes, and reflection on the above questions, we can be more intentional in deciding on a conflict response. Greater intentionality will likely lead to more effective conflict management. The following examples provide additional suggestions that individuals might use to improve their conflict management skills. Individual Reflection Exercise In addition to reflecting on the preceding questions, Karl Smith6 suggests that the following exercise might provide individuals with valuable information about their perspectives on conflict.
Exercise: Write the word conflict in the center of a blank piece of paper and draw a circle around it. Quickly jot down all the words and phrases you associate with the word conflict by arranging them around your circle. Review your list of associations and categorize them as positive, negative, or neutral. Count the total number of positive, negative, and neutral associations, and calculate the percentages that are positive, negative, and neutral. Did you have more than 90% positive? Did you have more than 90% negative? What do your associations with the word conflict indicate about your views about conflict and your approach to conflict? Learning About Your Conflict Modes Review brief descriptions of the five modes and choose your primary conflict mode. Supplementing individual reflection on conflict modes, you might find out more about your modes of conflict using instruments that are available.
Karl Smith in his book6 provides a copy of a questionnaire based on the Blake and Mouton conflict model7. Completing the questionnaire, scoring your responses, and reflecting on your answers might provide valuable information about your approaches to conflict. The TKI is a more recent instrument that is based on the Blake and Mouton conflict model and provides information about your conflict modes in terms of the modes. Taking the TKI assessment would provide information about your primary conflict modes. Equipped with this information, additional individual reflection would help you to determine your current level of comfort with your conflict resolution styles. Then, you might decide whether you want to make changes. Creating an Individual Conflict Management Plan Create a conflict management plan. A conflict management plan is a thought and behavior process one can follow when in conflict. A person creates a list of steps she/he can follow when a conflict comes up so that the person can productively manage/solve the conflict.
These steps have to be thoughts or behaviors that can be realistically done. The literature shows that, if we can identify we are in conflict and can then implement a conflict management plan, our opportunity for resolution of the conflict increases significantly. We identify we are in conflict by identifying our physiological responses when in conflict and by identifying thoughts and feelings we are having that trigger us to realize that we are experiencing a conflict. There are three steps to making a conflict plan. First, write down what physiological responses you have when you know you are in conflict (e.g., my palms are sweaty, my heart is racing).
Second, write down what thoughts you typically have when in a conflict (e.g., “I want to hurt him”; “I want to just get away from her”).
Finally, list 4–8 steps you can follow to help you manage your thoughts and emotions in a productive way to manage/solve your conflict (e.g., 1. I will take a deep breath; 2. I will think about how I want to respond, etc.).
Refer to Algert and Watson8 to learn more about creating a conflict management plan. Listening Improving listening skills is one approach to improving conflict management skills. Eugene Raudsepp states that “Studies show, however, that only about 10% of us listen properly.”9 Read the article by Raudsepp9, take the listening quiz, and develop an action plan for improving your listening skills. Suggestions for Further Activities The book 50 Activities for Conflict Resolution10 contains 25 activities for self-development on conflict. Activities include “The Role of Values in Conflict Resolution,” “Resolving Conflict through Planning,” “Evaluating Your Conflict Resolution Skills,” and “Uncovering the Hidden Agenda.”
How might a student team apply this information to improve its approaches to conflict and/or skills in managing conflict within the team? Applying the preceding information about the five different modes of conflict management, factors affecting models of conflict management, and processes for selecting one or more approaches to conflict within the context of a student team involves increasing the awareness of the each of the team members about the way the other team members view conflict and how the other team members approach conflict. There are two basic types of team activities. • In the first type of team activity, individual team members learn more about their perspectives and approaches to conflict through either individual reflection or appropriate instruments.
Then, the individuals share with their team members what they have learned. • In the second type, the team engages in an activity that simulates a hopefully low level of conflict. Then, the team reflects about its actions, learns from its experiences, and develops ways to address conflict more constructively in the future. The following examples provide suggestions for possible team activities. Collaborating with Different Individual Conflict Modes Ask each member to complete the exercise on the preceding page in which she/he identifies their primary mode of conflict management. Then, ask each individual team member to share her/his own primary mode of conflict management and to provide examples that illustrate that mode. Next, ask the team to identify potential strengths for the combination of different styles and potential problems that might arise with the combination of conflict management modes. Finally, ask the team to develop strategies to minimize potential problems and build on their strengths.
Developing a Positive Team Perspective about Conflict Start with the individual reflection exercise on the preceding page in which each member writes the word conflict and associates different words or phrases with conflict. Then, ask each member to share the insights she/he learned through the individual reflection. Next, ask the team to take all of the positive associations with conflict and combine them together to construct positive ways in which the team might view conflict. Finally, ask the team to take all of the negative associations with conflict and devise ways in which the negative associates might be eliminated or minimized. Developing a Consensus Decision In this book on Teamwork and Project Management,6 Karl Smith asks teams to rank fifteen causes of death in the United States in terms of their frequency of occurrence. Similar exercises on ranking items most required in desert or space survival exercises are available at http://www.eas.asu.edu/~asufc/teaminginfo/teams.html or in Joining Together11 by Johnson and Johnson (Exercise 8.3 Stranded in the Desert, Exercise 8.4 Who should get the penicillin?, Exercise 8.5 Fallout Shelter).
These types of exercises can stimulate team development in several ways. One of the ways is to provoke a low level of conflict within the team and to learn from its experience. After completing the exercise, the team can debrief its performance. The team might address several questions. What were the positive aspects in the way we handled conflict? How did our various modes of conflict management help our performance? How did our various modes of conflict management hinder our performance?
How might we improve the ways in which we managed conflict within our team? Intrateam Communication Improving intrateam communication can reduce the likelihood of conflict and increase the chances for faster, more effective management of conflict when it occurs. The Foundation Coalition has prepared a summary on Effective Interpersonal/Intrateam Communication that may provide helpful information and activities. Suggestions for Further Activities The book 50 Activities for Conflict Resolution10 contains 25 activities for team-development on conflict. Several of the activities are role-play, conflict scenarios that provide opportunities for teams to determine the ‘best’ intervention style for the conflict at hand.
How might a faculty member apply this information in her/his course? Your learning objects and activities will depend on the maturity of your students, their prior experience and knowledge of conflict management skills, and the amount of class time you choose to invest in conflict management. The following paragraphs provide three examples of possible learning objectives and classroom activities. Example No. 1 If you are teaching a class in which you will be using student teams and have about twenty minutes for conflict management, you might set the following learning objective and use the following class activity. Learning Objective: Students should be able to describe their initial responses to conflict and explain benefits of engaging in conflict. Classroom Activity: Discuss the first page of this document. Ask your students to work in teams and discuss what they think about conflict.
Have they had positive or negative outcomes when they have engaged in conflict at work or school? Next, have the students identify their physiological response to conflict: fight or flight. Has the initial conflict response, fight or flight, had positive or negative outcomes? Let the students know, regardless of their physiological response, they can intentionally pick a conflict mode they want to use when in conflict. They do not have to just fight or flee when a conflict arises. Finally, ask students to identify positive outcomes that can occur from engaging in conflict (peace, relief, improved relationship, stronger team, understanding, better communication, greater productivity, etc.).
Through identifying how we engage in conflict and recognizing that engaging in conflict can be positive, we are more likely to engage in conflict when necessary.
Example No. 2 If you are teaching a class in which you will be using student teams and have an entire class period to help your students develop their conflict management skills, then you might select the following learning objectives and use the following classroom activities. Learning Objectives: Students should be able to • Describe the skills necessary to effectively engage in conflict • Describe their approach to conflict in terms of the five conflict management modes • Describe how their comfort level with engaging in conflict has changed (and, hopefully, increased) Classroom Activities: Ask students to read the first two pages of the document in class. Then, in teams, ask students to share with each other how they think they approach conflict. Ask each team member if he/she is comfortable with his/her conflict management style (most people will report “No”; they wish they were either more assertive or more cooperative).
Ask team members to discuss with one another why it is important to understand one another’s conflict styles. Ask each team to develop ideas on how they will take advantage of the conflict management modes of each its members. Also, team members should discuss where they may have conflict with one another based upon their different conflict styles (more assertive members may dominate, while more cooperative members may become frustrated with competitors, etc.).
Call on selected teams for reports on this activity. Example No. 3 If you are teaching a class in which you will be using student teams and choose to invest a homework assignment and an entire class period in helping your students develop their conflict management skills, then you might select the following learning objectives and use the following classroom activities. Learning Objectives: Students should be able to • Identify their conflict management styles
• Describe the skills necessary to effectively engage in conflict • Describe their approaches to conflict in terms of the five conflict management modes • Describe how their comfort level with engaging in conflict has changed (and, hopefully, increased) • Demonstrate improvements in their conflict management skill set • Create a conflict management plan Classroom Activities: Ask students to read the entire document before class and ask them to write down how their approach to conflict management may be described in terms of the five modes of conflict management. If possible, allow the students to take the TKI on line.5 Have students review the document and describe skills necessary to effectively engage in conflict. Students should consider what variables should be considered when engaging in conflict with another person.
Team members should dialogue about conflict modes to use when another person is using a particular conflict mode. Furthermore, team members should discuss what modes they are comfortable using and what modes they will have to practice using effectively. Team members should identify times to use each of these modes effectively. Instruct the students: discernment and practice is the primary way to grow comfortable with using each of these five modes. Practice using the different conflict modes (as appropriate) when your team is in conflict or when you have a conflict at home. Next, challenge the students to write a conflict management plan.
8 Through being able to identify that we are in conflict and by implementing a predesigned conflict management plan, we can most effectively solve our conflicts. Finally, with the remaining time, ask the students to complete three activities on conflict management. Select students to share their answers in class. Ask the students to share what they have learned about conflict management, how they will apply this information, and to evaluate if they believe they can more successfully manage their team conflicts as they arise. Below are suggested activities from 50 Activities for Conflict Resolution10 and Joining Together.11
Lambert and Myers, 50 Activities for Conflict Resolution10
• Activity Identifying Helpful Communication Styles, p. 13 • Benefits and Barriers: Exploring Third-party Intervention, p. 35 • Assumptions: Who Needs Them?, p. 47 • Brainstorming: The Case of the Stolen Account, p. 61 • Exploring Sources of Conflict, p. 91
Johnson and Johnson, Joining Together: Group Theory and Group Skills11 • Exercise 8.1 Controversy (Teams of four create a paper in which they reach consensus on a controversial issue) • Exercise 8.2 Your Behavior in Controversies (Become more aware of your actions in a controversy) • Exercise 8.6 The Johnson School (Defining a problem from diverse information)
• How to Deal with Hot Buttons, p. 109 • Why People Avoid Dealing with Conflict Resolution, p. 115 • Uncovering the Hidden Agenda, p. 139 • Supportive Listening: What’s Your Score?, p. 151 • Fact vs. Opinion, p. 155 • Escalate vs. Acknowledge: The Choice is Yours, p. 157
• Exercise 8.7 Avoiding Controversies (Produce feedback about how other group members see your behavior in controversies and disagreements) • Exercise 8.13 Your Behavior in Controversies
The goal of this document is to provide students and faculty members with conflict management information that can be beneficial both personally and professionally. Some people think conflict is a topic that should not be discussed and that we should not engage in conflict. Productively engaging in conflict is always valuable. Most people are willing and interested in resolving their conflicts; they just need the appropriate skill set and opportunities in which to practice this skill set. Without a conflict skill set, people want to avoid conflict, hoping it will go away or not wanting to make a “big deal out of nothing.” Research and personal experiences show us that, when we avoid conflict, the conflict actually escalates and our thoughts and feelings become more negative. Through conflict self-awareness we can more effectively manage our conflicts and therefore our professional and personal relationships.
Furthermore, by discussing issues related to conflict management, teams can establish an expected protocol to be followed by team members when in conflict. All teams and organizations have a conflict culture (the way the team responds to conflict).
However, most teams never discuss what the conflict culture is, therefore providing the opportunity for individual team members to make assumptions that can be counterproductive to the team. Practicing one’s conflict management skills leads to more successful engagement in conflict with outcomes of relief, understanding, better communication, and greater productivity for both the individual and the team. When we manage our conflicts more effectively, we use less energy on the burdensome tasks such as systemic conflict and get to spend more of our energy on our projects at work and building our relationships. Below are references that can assist both individuals and teams to greater conflict management success.
References for Further Information
1. Katzenbach, J.R., and Smith, D.K. (1992) Wisdom of teams, Harvard Business
School Press. 2. Johnson, D.W., Johnson, R.T., and Holubec, E.J. (1986) Circles of learning: cooperation in the classroom (rev. ed.), Edina, MN: Interaction Book Co. 3. “Workplace Basics: The Skills Employers Want,” Am. Soc. Training and Devel. and U.S. Dept. Labor, Employment and Training Admin., 1988. 4. Algert, N.E. (1996) “Conflict in the workplace” in Proceedings: Women in Engineering Advocates Network, Denver, CO., 123–127. 5. Consulting Psychologists Press (CPP).
Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. Palo Alto, CA: (800)624-1765 or available on the World Wide Web at http://www.cpp-db.com. 6. Smith, K.A. (2000) Project management and teamwork. New York: McGraw-Hill BEST series. 7. Blake, R.R., and Mouton, J.S. (1964).
The managerial grid. Houston: Gulf Publishing Co. 8. Algert, N.E., and Watson, K. (2002) Conflict management: introductions for individuals and organizations. Bryan, TX: (979)775-5335 or e-mail 9. Raudsepp, E. (2002) “Hone Listening Skills To Boost Your Career,” available on the World Wide Web at http://www.careerjournal.com/myc/climbingladder/20021224raudsepp.html, accessed on 28 January 2003. 10. Lambert, J., and Myers, S. (1999) 50 Activities for conflict resolution. Amherst, MA: HR Development Press. 11. Johnson, D.W., and Johnson, F.P. (2000) Joining together: group theory and group skills (7th ed.), Boston, Allyn and Bacon.
Algert, N.E. (2002).
The center for change and conflict resolution, Bryan, TX: (979)775-5335 or e-mail Moore, C., “How Mediation Works” in The Mediation Process: Practical Strategies for Resolving Conflict. Putnam (1994).
“Beyond third-party role: disputes and managerial intervention,” Employee Responsibilities and Rights J. (7:1).
Xicom, Inc. (1996).
Conflict Workshop Facilitator’s Guide.
Whether you’re just getting started or looking for additional ideas, the Foundation Coalition staff would like to help you incorporate student teams into your engineering classes through workshops, Web sites, lesson plans, and reading materials. For suggestions on how to start, see our Web site at http://www.foundationcoalition.org or contact Jeffrey Froyd at or at 979-845-7574.