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Eight Causes of Conflict

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Posted 29 June 2012 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

Personal Development Courses

We offer both:
• Bespoke in-house training.
These can be tailored to your specific needs.
• Open training courses at locations near you.
You may find the following will help with the training of your team leaders and managers.

Eight causes of conflict

Conflict management training courses

Conflict is a broad term that covers many themes.

  1. Conflict based upon the clumsy use of over emotionalised and highly judgmental language.
  2. Conflict based upon the lack of proper appreciation and praise.
  3. Conflict based upon the Misuse of humour.
  4. Conflict based on the unwillingness to move or Compromise.
  5. Conflict based upon vague, ambiguous language leading to avoidable miscommunications.
  6. Conflict based on disagreements over priorities.
  7. Conflicts based upon divergent goals and multiple interpretations of written policies.
  8. Conflict based upon character clashes.

In one single-days training it is not possible to cover ALL of the many themes.

Whichever themes of conflict you DO choose to cover, you must simultaneously choose not to cover some of the other themes.

  • yet, if you did change the course, to cover the missing themes,
  • then that change must be at the expense of other themes,
  • that must be dropped in order to accommodate the added material.

So in a way, the training is doomed to the possible criticism that "The conflict course was very good, as far as it went, but it didn't cover XXXXX".

Conflict Management

Conflict Management Training

Conflict is inevitable, because people disagree. Therefore, you must be able to handle conflict situations effectively. You must know how to be assertive, clear and professional (not emotional, upset and angry) whilst in conflict. If you want to learn more on how to achieve this, please click here to see our conflict management training.

Consequently I wanted to show you the following notes:

Think of the following as a sort of a "mental menu" to:

  1. Think about the various elements that combine to make conflict situations.
  2. Think about which elements you, or your colleagues, need help to manage.

1. Conflict based upon the clumsy use of over emotionalised and highly judgmental language

Whenever you are in a conflict situation you have choices as to how you verbalise your message.

Fundamentally there are three major options:

  1. You could employ factual, objective, logical, specific and non-emotionalised language.
  2. You could use emotive, subjective, illogical and highly opinionated language.
  3. You could throw it all in!

You use all of it: opinionated, emotive, evaluative, judgmental, illogical AND the factual, logical, objective specific language too.

But remember this:

More is not necessarily better!
Therefore; Our method is summed up in the following sentence:
When you are in a conflict situation, then use only fact based, logical, objective, non-emotionalised and non-opinionated language.

More simply:

  1. Stick to verbalising the facts that led to the emotions and derogatory opinions.
  2. Rather than verbalising the emotions and derogatory opinions themselves!

Even more simply:
"Choose your words carefully, Mr Bond. They may be your last!"

2. Conflict based upon the lack of appreciation and praise

Note the following:

  1. When correctly given, praise and appreciation are good motivators.
  2. And a lack of praise and appreciation can be the cause of many conflicts.

Have you ever put forth an extra effort for another person; you have given him your best; only for him to accept the benefits of your efforts without a single word of thanks?
No appreciation!

If yes, then; were you a tad put-out?
Were you annoyed by his-her failure to give the proper thanks?
You bet!

Remember this:
Praise and appreciation is a major motivator: so dish out justified appreciation with liberal abandon!

Remember this too:
The lack of proper praise and appreciation is a major source of ill-will and a common reason for interpersonal conflicts.

3. Conflict based upon the Misuse of humour

On occasions the misapplication of Humour is the source of conflict.

Humorous comments, depreciation and mocking, even if meant in jest, can lead to conflict.

The humorous comment can be perceived by the others, not as "a keen wit", but rather as:

  1. Insulting
  2. Lacking in respect
  3. Insensibility
  4. Undermining of confidence
  5. Trivialisation of a serious situation
  6. Poor judgement
  7. Lack of professionalism
  8. Lack of understanding
  9. Boorishness
  10. Possibly even Bullying

Don't be the office clown!
Don't be the office joker!
Leave that to the professionals!

4. Conflict due to unwillingness to move or compromise

By definition we all believe that our ideas are the correct ones.
If you did not believe your own ideas are true, then you would change them.

You think that all your ideas are the correct ones.
The problem is: everyone else thinks the same of their ideas!
And you have to trade with them.

Consequently you may have to be willing to compromise a little
Not on your principles (never compromise on your principles); But you may have to compromise on your policies.

Ask of the conflicting parties these two questions:

  1. What will it take to resolve this conflict between you?
  2. Are you willing to do it?

5. Conflict based upon vague ambiguous language leading to miscommunications and misunderstandings

Vague, ambiguous language causes conflict because ambiguous language creates "Agreements based upon misunderstandings".
I.e. imagine that we both use ambiguous language.
As a result of that error, we come to a verbal agreement, but we interpreted the same sentences in two different ways: we each implement our two respective interpretations and only later discover that "the OTHER person got the wrong end of the stick".
There are many errors, mistakes and arguments based upon miscommunications.

Example: "Workers wanted for pickling. Apply within".

The remedy is a training course that presents methods of accurate language and clear communication

6. Conflict based on disagreements over priorities

We have conflicts over what is the "right thing": i.e. what is the best decision
We have to make decisions
We want to do the right thing.

The big question is;
What IS the right thing?

How do you decide what IS the right thing?
The remedy is a course that presents decision methods and joint decision making techniques.
Everyone should know how to do a quick decision matrix.

There are three types:

  1. What is the Priority order? Decision.
  2. Yes or no (should we or should we not?) Decision.
  3. Which one or what kind? Decision.

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7. Conflict based upon divergent goals and multiple interpretations of written policies

We fall into conflict because some of the policies and mission statements are written in too-vague terms.

The remedy is a course that presents how to give clear definition to vague abstractions and phrases that are: "often used but ill defined": examples:

  • Unacceptable language
  • Un-Professional attitude
  • Inappropriate behaviour

8. Conflict based upon character clashes

Some people have "negative behaviours" that clash with the requirement of the task.
These people have attitudes that result in actions consistent with:
Cynicism, pessimism, defeatism, laziness, argumentativeness and non-cooperativeness.
The remedy is a course on how to create and sustain a positive mental attitude:
I.e. goal focused, rationally optimistic, critical thinker, co-operative.

Please: use the above list to:

  1. Think about the various elements that combine to make conflict situations
  2. Think about which elements of conflict management you, or your colleagues, need help with.

For more information about conflict management training visit the Corporate Coach Group website

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