When Things Don’t Work: Recognizing and Resolving Conflict



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When Things Don’t Work: Recognizing and Resolving Conflict

  • LEADERSHIP PROGRAM 2012-2013
  • Sponsored by the Provost’s Office
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Catherine J. Morrison, JD
  • Associate Faculty
  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • cmorrison@createagreement.com

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the fundamental concepts of conflict management
  • Acquire specific tactical approaches to conflict situations
  • Apply that understanding to more effectively assess and manage two-party and multi-party conflicts
  •  
  • s

CONFLICT HAPPENS

  • Conflict is…
  • a normal, inescapable part of life
  • a periodic occurrence in any relationship
  • an opportunity to understand opposing preferences and values
  • ENERGY

How can we manage the energy of conflict?

Use cognitive conflict

  • Disagreement about ideas and approaches
  • Issue focused, not personal
  • Characteristic of high performing groups
  • Amason, A.C., Thompson, K.R., Hochwarter, W.A., & Harrison, A.W. (1995, Autumn). “Conflict: An Important Dimension in Successful Management Teams.” Organizational Dynamics, 24(2), 22-23.

Avoid affective conflict

  • Personal antagonism fueled by differences of opinion
  • Destructive to group performance and cohesion
  • Ibid., 24.

How can we keep conflict cognitive?

Step 1. Make the approach

  • Reflect before you begin
  • Invite the other party to a conversation
  • Be clear about your intentions
  • State your goal - a positive resolution
  • Ibid.

Step 2. Share perspectives

  • Ask for the other person’s perspective
  • Paraphrase what you hear
  • Acknowledge your contribution
  • Describe your perspective
  • Ibid.

Understand why your views differ

  • (Read from bottom to top)
  • I take action
  • I adopt beliefs
  • I draw conclusions
  • I add meaning
  • I select data
  • Observable data
  • Clark, W. (October 17, 2005). People Whose Ideas Influence Organisational Work - Chris Argyris. In Organisations@Onepine. Retrieved March 8, 2009, from http://www.onepine.info/pargy.htm

Name the issues

  • Identify topics that the parties view as important to address
  • Use concise neutral language
  • Avoid pronouns
  • Use issues to create the agenda
  • Foundational Concepts for Understanding Conflict.

Step 3. Build understanding

  • Discuss one issue at a time
  • Clarify assumptions
  • Explore interests and feelings
  • Ibid.

Step 4. Agree on solutions

  • Reality test – Is this doable?
  • Durability test – Is this durable?
  • Interest test – Does this meet all parties’ interests?
  • Ibid.

Step 5. Plan next steps

  • Jointly create action plan
  • What needs to happen?
  • Who needs to do what? By when?
  • How will interaction take place if problems occur?
  • Ibid.

Tools for Conflict Management

That’s true but

  • What doesn’t
  • work

That’s true and

  • What does
  • work

BLAME

  • What doesn’t
  • work

The “third story”

  • What does
  • work

Contribution Mapping

  • What does
  • work

You get the picture…

  • What doesn’t
  • work

Match and lower, match and raise

  • What does
  • work
  • “Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof.”
  • John Kenneth Galbraith

Sources and Recommended Reading

Sources

  • Amason, A.C., Thompson, K.R., Hochwarter, W.A., & Harrison, A.W. (1995, Autumn). “Conflict: An Important Dimension in Successful Management Teams.” Organizational Dynamics, 24(2), 20-35.
  • Clark, W. (October 17, 2005). People Whose Ideas Influence Organisational Work - Chris Argyris. In Organisations@Onepine. Retrieved March 8, 2009, from http://www.onepine.info/pargy.htm

Sources

  • Garmston, R.J. (Summer 2005). “Group Wise: How to turn conflict into an effective learning process.” Journal of Staff Development, 26(3), 65-66.
  • Mediation Services. (2003). Foundational concepts for understanding conflict. Winnipeg, MB, Canada.

Recommended Reading

  • Conger, J. A. (1998, May-June). The Necessary Art of Persuasion. Harvard Business Review, pp. 84-95.
  • Eisenhardt, K., Kahwajy, L., & Bourgeois, L. J. (1997, July-August). How Management Teams Can Have a Good Fight. Harvard Business Review, pp. 77-85.
  • Robinson, R. J. (1997, February 6). Errors in Social Judgment: Implications for Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. Harvard Business School Publishing, Case Note 897103, pp. 1-7.

Recommended Reading

  • Sussman, L. (1999, January 15). How to Frame a Message: The Art of Persuasion and Negotiation. Business Horizons, pp. 2-6.
  • Tannen, D. (1995, September-October). The Power of Talk: Who Gets Heard and Why. Harvard Business Review, pp. 138-148.

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