Managing Conflict

Conflict is a part of life. It is, in fact, unrealistic and counterproductive to wish for conflict to disappear entirely. In many cases, when managed properly (link to Conflict Resolution page), conflict can be the source of creative breakthroughs and the evolution of both individuals and organisations. The key is the way in which conflicts are managed.

There are only two types of conflict - "real" conflicts and "ghost" conflicts.

A "real" conflict is one where individuals and groups have a fundamental difference in terms of the outcomes they want from a particular situation, and these outcomes seem to be mutually exclusive.

More often than not, conflicts are actually "ghosts". By this we mean that miscommunication has communicated a conflict where none really exists. People are actually in agreement, but the nature of the communication dynamic leads them to think that they are in conflict. A classic example of this sort of situation is captured in The Abilene Paradox.(link to book in bookstore)

Both types of conflict can be resolved. Whenever a conflict is effectively resolved, an organisation gets stronger. And, the likelihood of new conflicts occurring is reduced.

A range of self management and communication tools can help manage and resolve conflicts to the satisfaction of all parties involved.

Some Conflict Management Tools

“I” Statement

Managing Emotional Energy


Books and resources for Conflict Resolution

Org. Change Alignment
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