What is Conflict

By Marina Jeyaseelan

We often encounter conflict at various places right from personal life to business life. While some consider conflicts to be a negative phenomenon, it is also perceived as a positive and necessary process by others because of the fact that conflicts bring out true opinions or true sides of the people and matters can be cleared faster once that is known.
In general, conflicts can be of different types such as human vs human, human vs society, human vs nature. The conflict between the nations is the reason behind world wars.
Therefore, conflicts always cause chaos and halt progress. In organizations, where thousands and more people work together, an occurrence of conflict is very likely among the staff members. Therefore, it is very important to understand different types of conflicts and find the various possible ways to avoid or resolve them as soon as possible.
Conflicts cause anxiety and tension in the workplace, which makes the workplace an unsuitable place to work at. Whenever conflict happens between different staff members or between manager and staff member’s productivity reduces.
Reduction in productivity is not good for an organization, therefore, it is very important for a manager or leader to understand the conflicts and take suitable actions to settle them and make a workplace a peaceful and healthy environment for everyone.
Conflict exists everywhere.  In a world where population is skyrocketing and opinion is vast, there is no way to avoid conflict in your life. So what do we do? We learn to resolve conflict. The only way to resolve conflict is to, first, recognize conflict by understanding the stages of conflict. There are five stages of conflict and they can only be resolved by learning and understanding how to solve the issue.
There are the five stages of conflict:
* Latent Stage: Participants not yet aware of conflict
* Perceived Stage: Participants aware a conflict exists
* Felt Stage: Stress and anxiety
* Manifest: Conflict is open and can be observed
* Aftermath: Outcome of conflict, resolution or dissolution
In the “Latent Stage” the first stage in the five stages of conflict, people may be in conflict without being aware that they are in conflict.  An example of this could be that a server at a restaurant may have inputted an order incorrectly and the food being made for a table is the wrong food.  The manager and table do not know this yet and conflict has not arisen yet.
The “Perceived Stage” is when the people involved in a conflict become fully aware that there is a conflict, so the table has now been made aware and complained to management.  Management will now go over to speak with the employee about it.
During the “Felt Stage” stress and anxiety are felt by one or more of the participants due to the conflict, the manager does not enjoy causing conflict and the employee does not enjoy being under scrutiny.
This will undoubtedly lead to the “Manifest Stage,” during which the conflict can be observed. The Manifest Stage can take a number of shapes including: e-mails, phone calls, phone messages, face-to-face meetings, or any situation in which the conflict could be observed.  When the manager pulls the employee aside to speak with him or her, others perceive the conflict and it has manifested.

The final stage is the “Aftermath Stage,” which takes place when there is some outcome of the conflict, such as a resolution to, or dissolution of, the problem.  When the manager corrects the mistake with the customer and takes appropriate steps to ensure the server is more careful in the future.
Most of the time, recognizing and addressing issues that cause conflict will lead to a fast and effective resolution.  The problem lies in the fact that solutions are not always so easy.  When both parties feel they have been wronged and expect their demands to be met, then conflict can escalate.  Many places are melting pots of conflict.  The most prominent area of life that sees the five stages of conflict is the workplace.  In most cases neither party wants to be there in the first place nor does this time of heightened stress lend itself to conflict.

The various types of conflict that could have been identified in the case and describe the possible causes of each of the types of these conflicts.
Teams are an essential component of organizational life. In order for a team to get anything done, its members must find a way to work together effectively.
Conflict management commonly recognize three forms of conflict in teams:
– Task Conflicts are disagreements over what the team is supposed to accomplish,
  – Relationship Conflicts occur when disagreements between members become personal, and
– Process Conflicts concern disagreements over how the team should go about its work.
Proper information and communication is the key for Sales and Customer Service to be in a mutual relationship.
I have been with customer service for some time and we have been in battle with sales ever since. Our customers will call us and tell us that sales agents have promised them something in order them to buy or subscribe to our service, then later on finds out that the charges were not what they were told and the service is different from what they were promised. Of course, our job as customer service representative will be to resolve the issue and carry the consequences of the other department’s fault. After we solve the issue, everything will be fine but this usually creates a conflict between sales and customer service.
But different things happened in this case scenario which sales staff received complaint that their clients do not receive service quickly enough from the service group whereas the service group tries to distribute its resources systematically to satisfy the demands placed on it. In order to avoid these conflict, sales and customer service should have a good communication and must be aware of each other’s limitations and scope of support.
There could be four types causes of this conflicts such as 1) Personality differences because Mr. Lee is a Company President and Sales Oriented person and Mr. Sam is a Vice President of Production, 2) Value differences because these two person has two different value in different departments 3) Differences in perspective because these two person has different point of view and Mr. Sam has overseen the service group and 4) differences in goals since involve two different departments and they might have different goals for own departments.
The different conflict resolution strategies (and why) that could be applied in this case.
Conflict management is the process of limiting the negative aspects of conflict while increasing the positive aspects of conflict. The aim of conflict management is to enhance learning and group outcomes, including effectiveness or performance in an organizational setting.
Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann developed five conflict resolution strategies that people use to handle conflict, including avoiding, defeating, compromising, accommodating, and collaborating.
It suggests that everyone has preferred ways of responding to conflict, but most of us use all methods under various circumstances. It is helpful to understand how the five methods, particularly when we want to move a group forward.
1) Avoiding
Avoiding is when people just ignore or withdraw from the conflict. They choose this method when the discomfort of confrontation exceeds the potential reward of resolution of the conflict. When conflict is avoided, nothing is resolved.
2) Competing
Competing is used by people who go into a conflict planning to win. They’re assertive and not cooperative. This method is characterized by the assumption that one side wins and everyone else loses. It doesn’t allow room for diverse perspectives into a well-informed total picture. Competing might work in sports or war, but it’s rarely a good strategy for group problem solving.
3) Accommodating
Accommodating is a strategy where one party gives in to the wishes or demands of another. They’re being cooperative but not assertive. This may appear to be a gracious way to give in when one figures out s/he has been wrong about an argument. It’s less helpful when one party accommodates another merely to preserve harmony or to avoid disruption. Like avoidance, it can result in unresolved issues. Too much accommodation can result in groups where the most assertive parties commandeer the process and take control of most conversations.
4) Collaborating
Collaborating is the method used when people are both assertive and cooperative. A group may learn to allow each participant to make a contribution with the possibility of co-creating a shared solution that everyone can support. A great way to collaborate and overcome conflict is to reach out and touch them.
5) Compromising
Another strategy is compromising, where participants are partially assertive and cooperative. The concept is that everyone gives up a little bit of what they want, and no one gets everything they want. The perception of the best outcome when working by compromise is that which “splits the difference.” Compromise is perceived as being fair, even if no one is particularly happy with the final outcome.
In this case I believe we should use Collaborating and Compromising strategies because both departments must have joined together as a big team instead of separating those two departments in different rooms, which only fosters conflict and misunderstandings.