Managing Conflict and Disagreement in the Workplace Smith. (2002). Managing workplace conflict. (Issues @ Work) Westchester County Business Journal

Essay by justinamCollege, UndergraduateA, May 2004

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Wherever there are people there will inevitably be conflict. As individuals, Smith points out, "We have our own ideas and goals, and it is only natural that in pursuing our own agendas we will sometimes be at odds with others with differing objectives and viewpoints" (Smith, 2002, p. 4). What is conflict? "Conflict is a natural disagreement resulting from individuals or groups that differ in attitudes, beliefs, values or needs" ( There are three concepts or techniques that should be used when managing conflict and disagreement in the workplace. The three concepts are: self-awareness, understanding of the situation, and identifying the common needs and interests of the parties involved.

"Self-awareness is the core of all leadership and influencing skills, and conflict resolution is no exception" (Smith, 2002, p. 4). Utilizing these core strategies is essential to conflict and disagreement resolution. One commonly used strategy is the baseline assessment, which is when a person establishes a baseline or self imposed standard for how they deal with conflict in general.

A person typically chooses from the following list of options:

"I try to pursue my own goals and stand my ground.

I try to cooperate by giving in on some points in exchange for others.

I try to point out factors everyone agrees on and not dwell on points of disagreement.

I try to get everyone involved in working out a solution and deal with all concerns.

I try to ease tension and let others take responsibility for solving problems" (Smith, 2002, p. 4). By performing this baseline assessment it gives the person an idea of how they deal with conflict. Once a person knows their baseline, it can help them see areas in which the person may need to strengthen or modify their approach.

Another self-awareness discovery strategy is performing a...