What is the Conflict Process? - Definition and Stages
- 0:57 Potential Opposition
- 2:00 Cognition and Personalization
- 2:41 Intentions
- 3:37 Behavior
- 4:39 Outcomes
- 5:24 Lesson Summary
The conflict process deals with five steps that help alleviate disagreement, problems or fighting within organizations. The five steps are potential opposition or incompatibility, cognition and personalization, intentions, behavior and outcomes.
Violet Jones has been the manager of Intestinal Distress Taco for two years. Violet has dealt with many different employee issues, but lately there has been a problem that is really causing her concern. One of her most veteran employees is sabotaging sales. Eric brings constant negativity to the job and has actually made customers leave the restaurant.
Violet has a big conflict on her hands and will have to decide how and when she will move through a conflict process to solve the problem with Eric. A conflict process deals with five steps that help alleviate friction, disagreement, problems or fighting. The five steps are:
- potential opposition or incompatibility
- cognition and personalization
Let's take a look at Violet's situation with Eric to see how she utilizes the conflict process to solve her organizational issue.
The first stage of the conflict process is called potential opposition or incompatibility. In this stage, there are potential areas of conflict that could develop, and they consist of communication, structure and personal variables. For Violet, all three areas of incompatibility exist, so it's not surprising that she has multiple issues with Eric.
Eric does not listen very well and always misinterprets what Violet says during her daily meetings. For example, she might say that employees have to be friendlier to customers, but Eric takes that to mean that it is okay for him to talk to them about problems with the store and his personal life. The structure of the store is also a cause of conflict because Violet has over 25 employees to manage weekly. She does not have the time to follow Eric around and ensure that he does not upset customers. In addition, Eric's personal variables lean towards conflict. He enjoys drama and is always ready to complain or fight with Violet over hours, tasks or customer service. The next step deals with the recognition of the fact that there is a conflict.
Cognition and Personalization
When one of the factors mentioned in the potential opposition stage actually materializes as a conflict, then stage two occurs based on cognition and personalization. During this stage, the perception of conflict arises between the parties. For example, Violet realized that Eric's numerous issues have caused a drop in sales of 15%. She is cognizant of the fact that Eric is the one responsible and that she needs to fix this issue. In order for personalization to occur, the parties must feel that there is conflict via stress, anger or frustration, resulting in emotional involvement. Once conflict arises, individuals must make a decision on how to handle the problem.
The third stage is regarding intentions, or decisions to take action in a certain way. Violet does have a multitude of choices in how she can handle the conflict.
Violet can use competing, collaborating, avoiding, accommodating or compromising to solve the conflict with Eric. If she decides to be competitive, she only cares about winning and is not open to any compromise. She could involve Eric in trying to see if they can mutually come to a resolution using a collaborative or compromising style. She cannot take an avoidance stance and wish that the conflict would just disappear; she has lost too much money and continues to do so on a weekly basis. Lastly, Violet will not just give in and be accommodating to Eric.
She feels that she will try to compromise and collaborate with him in a Friday meeting offsite. She wants to know why he is being so negative and hurting business when he used to be a good worker. The meeting starts off very confrontational.
The fourth stage is all about behavior, or where the conflicts become visible through yelling, fighting or crying. This is usually the most difficult stage because major issues have to be resolved. Strikes and wars would be an extreme example of this stage.
Violet's fourth stage started out with Eric being very angry about her accusations regarding his work behavior. After both of them calmed down, Eric ended up sobbing and revealing that he had just lost his pet dog of 10 years. He felt that there was nothing to live for and that life was full of sadness. His negative personal view melted into his work mood as well.
Fortunately, Violet was a pet owner and was able to relate to Eric's sadness. She confided in him about her own pet loss last year. She told him how she got through it and even gave him the name of an animal shelter where she found her newest pet. Violet felt that there was a positive outcome to the conflict. Eric promised to improve and Violet explained that she would put him on probation and not fire him - for now!
Outcomes is the last stage of the conflict process. The outcome is the final result of the conflict and can be classified as functional or dysfunctional. In Violet's case, it was a functional outcome, as the situation was resolved in a positive manner with the conflict resolved.
A dysfunctional outcome would be when the conflict causes even more negative results. For instance, if Violet's example with Eric went the wrong way, it could have resulted in Eric vandalizing the restaurant, quitting and writing bad online reviews. Eric would no longer be employed, but Violet would have other issues to deal with. Conflict resolution depends on the personalities of those involved. Educated, compassionate individuals with excellent communication skills can vastly improve the final outcome.
The conflict process deals with the five steps that help alleviate friction, disagreement, problems or fighting within organizations. The five steps are potential opposition or incompatibility, cognition and personalization, intentions, behavior and outcomes. Companies need to be able to quickly move through the conflict process professionally and eliminate any issues within their corporation.
Chapters in Business 107: Organizational Behavior
- 1. The Evolution of Organizational Behavior (8 lessons)
- 2. Management and Organizational Behavior (4 lessons)
- 3. Foundations of Individual Behavior (5 lessons)
- 4. Personality and Behavior in Organizations (8 lessons)
- 5. Emotions and Moods in the Workplace (6 lessons)
- 6. Attitudes and Values in the Workplace (11 lessons)
- 7. Ethics in the Workplace (8 lessons)
- 8. Perception and Attribution (8 lessons)
- 9. Learning in the Workplace (5 lessons)
- 10. Employee Motivation (18 lessons)
- 11. Individual Decision Making in Organizations (6 lessons)
- 12. Workforce Diversity (5 lessons)
- 13. Organizational Communication in Business (9 lessons)
- 14. Groups and Work Teams (12 lessons)
- 15. Group Decision Making (8 lessons)
- 16. Conflict in the Workplace (8 lessons)
- 17. Leadership in Organizational Behavior (12 lessons)
- 18. Leadership Theory in Organizational Behavior (6 lessons)
- 19. Leadership Styles in Organizational Behavior (11 lessons)
- 20. Organizational Structure and Design (18 lessons)
- 21. Job Design (10 lessons)
- 22. Organizational Culture (10 lessons)
- 23. Organizational Change and Organizational Behavior (16 lessons)
- 24. Managing Workplace Stress (4 lessons)
- 25. Career Management (4 lessons)
- 26. Global Implications of Organizational Behavior (12 lessons)
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