Dealing with Different Conflict Styles

There are several models for solving workplace problems, but diversity issues require special consideration. When you are dealing with conflict, you need to follow a basic strategy:

1. Define the conflict.

2. Examine possible solutions.

3. Seek new solutions or accept the proposed solution.

4. Resolve the conflict.

Successful organizations do not mind conflict because good can come out of it. For instance, as we already know, conflict leads to innovation and better solutions. A problem-solving strategy will help you to find those solutions.

Conflict Styles

There are several different types of conflict styles. This is because different cultures react to conflict differently. Often there are other issues involved in the conflict as well, including relationships or time factors.

· Accommodating strategy: This strategy is used when the working relationship is of the utmost importance.

· Compromise: This tactic is used when issues are complex and fairly important, or when solutions are difficult and you have enough time to effect a compromise that is fair to all parties.

· Force: When the issue is important, you know you are correct, and there is little time for discussion, force may be used.

· Avoiding strategy: There is time pressure, and the issue is not so important.

· Collaborative approach: Both parties come up with and decide on a solution.

In all of these strategies, time is important. You must have enough time to find the best solutions and test them to ensure they will work.


Mediation skills are important in leadership positions. Mediators must be able to remain neutral at all times and manage a process that will result in resolution. A mediator should help the parties walk through the conflict and acknowledge that it exists. You should also try to keep the session focused on the problem at hand as much as possible to maintain fairness. You want to keep the conflicting parties searching for a solution rather than assigning blame. Examine why each party has taken his or her stance and then help the parties discover the reasoning behind their positions. While working through this discovery process, you should then be able to find some sort of common ground. Finally, be sure that the two parties are able to understand, accept, and commit to the solution that has been determined.

10 Pitfalls to Avoid in Mediation

1. After you have listened to the argument, avoid nonverbally communicating your discomfort with the issue.

2. Do not communicate your disagreement or agreement through your body language.

3. Do not say that you should not be talking about this type of thing at work and where others can hear.

4. Do not discourage the expression of emotion by suggesting the two parties to cool down.

5. Do not suggest that both parties are wrong.

6. Do not suggest halfway through the issue that you are not qualified to help.

7. Do not try to get both parties to attack you.

8. Do not minimize the seriousness of the issue.

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9. Do not change the subject.

10. Do not express displeasure that both parties are experiencing a conflict, and do not undermine the solidarity of the work group.

Managing Diversity Conflict

Conflict styles vary according to a person's gender, nationality, physical abilities, and age. This conflict actually can be beneficial to an organization if the leaders of that organization are able to manage it appropriately. Effective leaders will use conflict as motivation and those in conflict will learn about their differences.

The most common types of conflict arise over two people who have different ideas as to how one job should be done. A leader who is able to manage conflict can help these two people solve their problem and come to a compromise. That leader might even be able to determine an even better way to complete the task. That is the true essence of managing conflict and solving problems.

When Conflict Gets Really Bad…

An effective leader looks at conflict as an opportunity. Organizations must have policies in place for the times when things get really bad. There should be policies that set precise rules and consequences for all types of conflict that can occur through diversity, including:

· sexual harassment;

· discrimination;

· sexism;

· racism;

· homophobia.

However, despite these horrible conflicts that organizations often see, an effective leader is able to draw a learning experience from them and use that conflict for something good.

For example, if a Saudi Arabian man is having a hard time working with a white lesbian, then cultural differences and conflict relating to homosexuality and gender are likely to arise. However, the same type of conflict also could arise between a white man and a white lesbian. This situation provides the perfect opportunity to discuss the differences of people and to talk out the diversity issues that exist in this workplace relationship. Open dialogue can help a team deal with this issue. As these two people begin to understand each other's beliefs and differences, then they will be able to work more productively and put those differences aside.

Diversity Conflict Tips

· Organizations can benefit from conflict.

· Some types of conflict are harmful.

· Avoid conflict-increasing behaviors and unproductive, interpersonal conflict strategies.

· Manage conflict by seeing it as being beneficial to the organization.

Use problem-solving techniques to resolve conflict.
In many organizations, implementing corporate culture and diversity means implementing change. People naturally resist change, so it is importance to lead change and find ways to get involved with the process.

What Is Corporate Culture?

Organizational culture includes attitudes, beliefs, experiences, and the values of an organization. It also has been defined as "the specific collection of values and norms shared by people and groups in an organization." These are beliefs and ideas regarding the goals of the members of the organization and the ideas that you should pursue.

Organizational values are beliefs and ideas about the types of goals the members of the organization should pursue. However, the corporate culture is often set by senior managers. They work to impose the values and standards of behavior that reflect the company's objectives. Additionally, there is another culture inside teams that will shape how the corporate culture unfolds.

Developing a Mission Statement and Creating Diversity

Mission statements have been around for decades, but today they are more than just marketing slogans.They are the ideals that the company stands by. These statements are not merely designed to make people feel good about the company; they are designed to let the entire organization and the customers of the company know what the organization stands for. Mission statements are designed to let team members know the purpose, values, and goals of the organization. The entire organization should work to achieve those goals and uphold those values. As an organization changes over time, it is important to establish new mission statements or tweak them to fit the new ideals.

Leaders can use the mission statement as a tool as well. Those leaders who want to build a good foundation for their team and leave their mark on the organization will develop a mission statement and use it to bring the team members together. They also can help people change.

A number of organizations are using diversity as the cornerstone of their mission statements. Levi Strauss & Co. includes a section on diversity in its mission statement. Because of this mission statement, the company attracts some of the best employees in the world. The organization is known as a great place to work, and the company uses its diversity to attract creative individuals. The company mission statement also exemplifies its values.

Mission statements are written by teams of managers or a cross-section of employees. This process of creating mission statements helps ensure that everyone in the organization has an understanding of what the company wants to achieve. Having several people involved in the building of a mission statement may be a challenge, but it is also an exercise in teamwork and ensures that all of the values and goals are set in the mission statement.

A leader also needs to balance empowering the writers with the job of writing the statement, while sharing the vision of the entire organization. The writers of the statement need to know that it should connect diversity with the rest of the goals that the organization stands for. The statement also should include the word "diversity" when possible.

Tips for Writing a Mission Statement that Incorporates Diversity

· Include, implement, and emphasize diversity in the organization's mission statement.

· Get as many people as possible involved in creating a mission statement.

· Utilize a high-level committee that ensures that all areas of a mission statement are covered, including target audience, language, format, and overview of ideas.

· Include non-management personnel in the writing of the mission statement.

· Have each person write her or his own mission statement and then blend the results into one.

· Actively listen when mission statements are proposed.

· Give the final say on the mission statement to the top people in the organization.

Creating the Practical Diversity Plan

For a diversity plan to be successful, it must contain two components:

· It must be measurable.

· There must be accountability.

Develop a scorecard and work with the human resources department to create an area in management where diversity goals are reflected. Remember that diversity is more than skin color or gender; it includes personalities and personal backgrounds as well.

Review a lot of professionally delivered plans on diversity before writing your own. In some cases, you will not see a plan that fits your organization, but you will have an outline to use as a guide. In other cases, you may find certain areas you want to include, even though the rest of the plan does not fit with your mission.

Do not make implementing diversity something that you do on your own. Implementing diversity is a team project, and it must be performed as such. Your team should include executives, managers, and non-management employees. You also should include hourly paid employees and community leaders if you can. Although diversity has a definition, it is important for the group as a whole to come up with its own definition of diversity so that everyone has a common goal that he or she is working toward and understands what diversity means to the team.

Support for your diversity initiatives should come from all levels of the organization, but support from senior levels is ideal. The team also should be co-chaired by the president or chief executive officer of your organization.

The length of your plan is critical. It is important to create a plan that will last through the future, while also incorporating some short-term goals and wins to create momentum. It is also important to create a plan for the overall organization. Your plan should tell management team members what their specific roles and tasks are in the plan because this creates accountability.

Make the plan as broad as possible. Ensure that the plan is not experienced and discussed only by the management team, but create diversity topics that are to be discussed during your department meetings and discuss these issues when team members are together. This ensures that you continually keep the topic of diversity in front of your team. For your plan to be successful, recognize those team members who utilize the diversity plan and work the plan into their departments and divisions, as they are the true diversity champions.