Conflict in Communication
Conflict in Communication
Conflict in Communication
Within the workplace setting, poor communication is a common phenomenon that occurs across departments, between the employees, and among individuals within the same organization. Breakdown in effective communication leads to conflict that impacts negatively on the efficiency and motivation of management of the organization. The nature of the conflict can be manifested in different ways within the organization. While working in different organizations, I have experienced numerous conflicts that have arisen due to the nature of relationship I have had with the management. In analyzing the nature of the relationship between managers and employees, four concepts will be employed to elaborate on the topic.
TRIP goals are very influential in the analysis of conflicts between groups and individuals. TRIP stands for Topic, Relational, Identity and Process goals. The acronym TRIP denotes four major elements that have greatly influenced most of my interactions and relationships with my immediate managers. The topic creating the conflict points towards the interests of different parties within the disagreement. In my confrontations with managers, they have always wanted different or similar things (Dodd, 2008). Realizing the goals of each manager is an important step towards understanding the conflict. Relational goals deal with the type of relationship between two parties. Understanding the nature of the relationship greatly helps in solving conflicts. Within the office hierarchy, employees possess different privileges and rights. Therefore, managers cannot relate in the same way with their subordinates. Conflicts have also to be handled in the same way.
The identity goals in the strategy seek to identify the presentation of the parties in the conflict. One of the parties can be at fault while the other party might feel disappointed or disrespected. Lastly, the process goals establish the way in which the conflict will be ended. When applied in the appropriate style, TRIP goals have a combined effect of solving all the aspects of conflict using official methods. It is imperative to note that TRIP goals promote conflict communication apart from having other advantages. Power also plays a major role in influencing the conflicts between parties in the workplace.
The dynamics of power in the workplace relationships is very essential when approaching organizational conflicts. The different avenues through which power influences the relationships in the workplace are numerous. Some of these include power imbalances, misappropriation of authority and hierarchy among others (Dodd, 2008). In the contemporary world, conflicts are expected to be solved in an amicable manner using dialogue. With time, most conflicts transform into power struggles as they spiral or breakdown into smaller conflicts. Power struggles are usually deep-seated problems that have been festering within the organization or department. However, there is a turning point where all conflicts change into open discussions on the hierarchy and jurisdiction among the employees. This is the most common occurrence when managers and employees lack consciousness concerning power use in the organization.
In my experience as an employee, most people lack the rational ability to constructively use the power awarded to them. The acquisition of power and its exercise is seldom discussed within the workplace. Positive and non-oppressive exercise of power is gradually becoming significant with the increased proof of how devastating power can get in the wrong hands (Dodd, 2008). Employees need a constructive capability while handling the official relationships and when dealing with conflict. Tom Coleman conducted an extensive research into the role of power in organizational conflicts. He argues that most employees assume that power is fixed to certain physical locations, in fixed proportions and in one direction. This assumption creates conflicts as employees attempt to go against the authority of superiors. Conflict styles also play a major role in resolving organizational disputes. There are several behaviors that underlie every conflict and categorizing these actions creates conflict styles. Most conflict styles are an expression of the employees’ behavior and consequently, offer a wealth of information on the best way to understand conflicts and solve them agreeably.
Competing style in a conflict is characterized by employees who place their own needs over the needs of others. This style is highly aggressive and openly communicates the disinterest or dissatisfaction. This type of conflict discourages cooperation and instead brings out coercive exercise of power. In my time as an employee, I have experienced aggressive employees who were highly competitive with regard to handling responsibilities and reacting to conflicts. In such instances, the individuals always end up creating problems for the whole company. Disputes are created and these interruptions can be reflected on the productivity of the employees. Solving this competitive attitude will require informing the employees on the role that each of them is expected to play. Competition among employees tends to increase the level of threats that exists in the organization (Dodd, 2008).
Another conflict style is accommodating that involves yielding to the demands of other employees and managers within the organization. By being accommodative, it means that any conflicts that occur within the organizations are handled without creating problems and disagreements. This conflict style is completely opposite from the competitive type that seeks idiosyncratic benefits. Accommodative individuals tend to place the needs of the organizations over their own. This conflict style uses mainly diplomatic methods to smooth out any problems that surface concerning jurisdiction, power and duties. This style is very important and useful in the organization with regard to maintaining harmony. However, it requires certain character traits to be effective. Sanguine and choleric individuals are least suited for this type of approach.
Most employees use the avoidance style to handle conflicts within the workplace. With the hindsight that conflicts are discourage and disadvantageous in the workplace, most employees prefer to avoid the whole problem altogether. People tend to assume that if they ignore a conflict, it would disappear. However, when conflicts are ignored, they build up tension among individuals which only gets released later in another disagreement. Long-serving and useful relationships are broken making it very difficult for organizational growth to occur. Conflicts are occasionally ignored when the workplace lacks proper communication channels. Personally, communication has always helped in solving conflicts among employees (Dodd, 2008). When a problem surfaces, the workplace had opportunities for all the employees to converges and air their grievances. After this was done, the employees had a chance to reconcile with each other and solve these problems. In the process, the department became highly effective as the motivation levels were very high. Avoidance also creates confusing within the workplace as every individual is left wondering over what could be the problem. I think that this conflict style is the most destructive as it creates disarray, mistrust and losses within the organization.
Compromising is a conflict style that involves several trade-offs among the parties that are involved in the conflict. While this approach is very efficient, it has several flaws. Conflicts are postponed instead of being addressed. When the conflicting parties trade off, they simply agree to solve the conflict by each acquiring what they demand from the situation. In essence, the cause of the conflict is not addressed. Each party still harbors the same feelings and ideas concerning the circumstances or people that caused the problem in the first place (Dodd, 2008). Compromise has the effect of ignoring the deep-seated issues that cause conflicts and instead aim at quelling the chaos and restoring operation within the workplace. This approach was very common in the conventional management practices but with the realization of its flaws, compromise has gradually been replaced by accommodation as a conflict style. The last conflict style is collaborating. In this approach, different individuals having diverse positions within the organization learn to pool their demands and objectives into a common goal. This approach is closely related to compromise but differs with it in that collaboration requires the cooperation of all parties and has the aim of solving all the conflicts that existed in the organization.
This style works by reconciling the different demands of the parties involved. If the conflict is between a manager and an employee concerning productivity, collaboration works by bringing both parties to the negotiation table. After this, the requirements of both parties are discussed after which they are resolved diplomatically (Dodd, 2008). While it is a relatively new approach, collaboration has been found to be very problematic when implementing. This is because collaboration aims to achieve a ‘win-win’ result that may be difficult in certain situations. In the event that a conflict involves several departments or a large number of employees, results that occur from collaborative efforts can be expensive and difficult to implement.
Dodd, C. H. (2008). Managing business and professional communication. Boston: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.
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