During my training at the Toastmasters International Convention in Palm Desert, I had an opportunity to learn about how people go about managing conflict. There were five methods that were discussed:
- Ignore It. – As the name of the method suggests, when a conflict arises, some managers choose to ignore the problem rather than address it. When this happens, typically, the problem persists and never gets resolved. Some managers may resort to ignoring an issue when they know the situation will be short-lived (i.e. the individual is transferring to another department or leaving the country) or they believe that addressing the problem takes lower priority to other items at hand.
- Smooth It Over. – In this situation, often an issue needs to be addressed, but the manager will make the decision more appealing to the group by addressing the strengths of the proposal and minimizing the weaknesses. The following scenario was presented: a person was asked to get three proposals for a conference, but only came back with one that was within budget and acceptable. Although the person didn't complete the task that was assigned, he/she delivered an acceptable solution. As a manager, you could ask the person to continue to complete the task or accept the proposed solution and tell others about the strengths of the proposals and downplay the weaknesses. Although this is not an ideal resolution strategy, it may be required for some situations.
- Force It. – AlthoughStar Wars said "May the Force be With You," this usage here is far from positive. Sometimes a resolution must be made by force. For example, if someone doesn't deliver on anticipated outcomes, then they may be asked to step down from a position or forced to leave. This might also be required if a person becomes too disruptive in a group and causes more problems for the group dynamic. This strategy is typically a last resort, but unfortunately, may be required in some instances.
- Compromise. – This is when two parties must find a middle ground that is agreeable to both of them. Some people may consider this a win/win, but in reality, compromise means that each party must give something up in their respective positions in order to come to an agreement. This is a good solution, but not the absolute best solution.
- Collaborative. – This is the true win/win philosophy. This is where both parties bring something to the table and come out ahead because of their ability to work together. This concept truly resonates with me since the Fourth Success Principle of 1000 Cranes is "Success Comes with Collaborative Relationships." There have been too many times where I've seen wasted effort because of in-fighting and arguments
The exercises that were designed for our group showed some scenarios of conflict resolution method, and of course, I have always been a proponent of collaborative relationships type. Although it would be nice to always come to that, sometimes one of the other alternatives works best.
Have you used all five of these conflict resolution methods in the past?
When you think about your worst boss, what method did he/she use most of the time?
What method do you think you use most often?