How to Manage and Negotiate Conflict in Understanding the Organizational Behavior of Business
Being able to deal with
conflict and negotiate are two skills that are highly valued in society, not
just business and organizational behavior. Instances of confrontation are not
isolated to the professional world, and many people develop these abilities through
personal experience in throughout their lives. When they do enter the
professional world, they strengthen these skills even more. This is regardless
of the industry or company culture that they are a part of.
Conflict management and
negotiating skills are one of the many abilities that business seek out in
their employees. In some professions they are a requirement needed to get the
daily tasks of the job done. In others, they're just a good thing to have on
hand when you need them. Either way, there is quite a bit of value found in
having conflict management and negotiating abilities in business and
organizational culture. This article will explore what exactly is involved with
these skills and how they can be effectively used in the workplace. Information
on how to improve both abilities will also be included, as well as what can be
done to prevent conflicts from developing in the first place.
Types of Conflict
Not all conflicts are the
same, and this is largely because there are several different types of conflict
that can present themselves in the workplace. Depending on the existing
dynamics of a business, the type of business, its size and location, and the
position you have in that business can result in more conflicts of certain
types. Those that work in retail and customer service may encounter more client
or customer conflicts than, say, leadership conflicts.
Client or Customer-The
person that coined the phrase "the customer is always right" must never have
worked in customer service. These tend to be a regular occurrence for employees
in sales-related positions, as disgruntled customers tend to confront employees
about their dissatisfaction with products or services.1 Regardless
of if the employee is at fault for the issue at hand-of if it was something
that the business even had control over-customers will still hold them
accountable. These can occur with alarming frequency and can hurt the business'
Interpersonal and Personality-Conflicts between employees are often rooted in things
like attitudes and personality. It doesn't matter if the relationship between
employees is in good or bad standing when conflict develops, as things can
change. These usually occur when disagreements take on a personal note and
emotions get involved.2 In some cases stress could be a factor;
people can snap at their closest friends when they are under pressure and
tensions are running high. When conflict develops between employees who
normally not get along, changes in their interactions and attitudes towards
each other can act as a warning sign that things are about to escalate.
conflicts can be the worse at times, as it can feel like a personal attack and
can have serious legal repercussions for those involved. Organizational
behavior that isn't welcoming towards diversity can be at a greater risk for
discriminatory conflicts, as prejudice and misinformation that's already there
can lay the foundation for it. Managing and resolving these conflicts need to
be done so carefully, as attempts to deescalate the situation can accidently
escalate it. The entire staff may need to be addressed as well.
in leadership and management styles can lead to conflict when members of the
team disagree with their superiors. Inconsistencies between leaders can
negatively contribute to the situation and be frustrating for employees.3 In
some cases, leaders from different departments or areas of the business that
are made to work together can clash. A power struggle can develop over who is
in charge and who is secondary, instead of being equals, and trigger conflicts
further down the chain of command. Normally, whoever is next up in the
hierarchy is able to act in the capacity of moderator or negotiator as they
tend to be the supervisor of the feuding leaders.
of responsibility-related conflicts are sometimes treated as interpersonal conflicts
because they can share some similarities. Usually, the primary difference is
how they start: someone is blamed for a task not being done correctly or at
all. The person who is responsible may shift the blame to someone else to avoid
punishment, which may include termination in severe cases. These can also occur
if leaders accidently blame the wrong person for a mistake, which can generate
hostility and conflict between the employees and with the leader.
Solutions to Take to
Resolve Workplace Conflicts
Resolving a conflict in the
workplace can get complicated. Unfortunately, conflict needs outside help in
order to resolve; it can't do that on its own and will most likely escalate if
ignored.4 The nastier disagreements can turn physical or drag uninvolved
bystanders into the fray (employees, upper management, customers, the police,
etc.). Those who have the responsibility of resolving workplace
conflicts-whether they ask for it or not-need to be quick on their feet and
able to analyze the situation while remaining neutral. While each situation is
going to be different, these solutions can be applicable with a little bit of
Address the Situation Directly-Skirting around the issue or handling it with kid gloves
isn't going to help resolve any kind of conflict. If there is a conflict
developing between staff members, action needs to be taken quickly and directly
at the source. One mistake that managers make in dealing with conflict is that
they expect the business' human resources (HR) department to handle it if
things get serious. Unfortunately, things tend to be past that and are
affecting the business and other employees when HR gets involved.5 As
soon as a manager or other authority figure is made aware of the situation,
they should step in and try to find a resolution.
Don't Separate the Conflicting Parties-While it may seem like a good idea to split up employees
who are fighting with one another, it can inhibit a true resolution from being
found. Separated, each party will often attempt to sway moderators towards
their side of the issue.6 It can be harder to not emphasize with
their stories by meeting with them individually, and it often generates a lot
of back-and-forth and story inconsistencies. If you have to separate them, do
so to allow each one to calm down and
then talk to them together to find a resolution.
may be difficult, but resolving a conflict without remaining neutral can cause
unfair bias in your moderating. Office loyalties and friendships can be a
strong force of persuasion in conflict and arguments. Even for those in a management
position, a business' friendly atmosphere may make it difficult to not
empathize with either of the employees involved. In cases where managers are
one of the conflicting parties or they have a clear loyalty to one of the
people involved, you may need to go further up the chain of command or find
someone from another department that is unrelated to the situation to act as a
truly neutral moderator.
blame does not help anyone and can actually lay the groundwork for future conflict.
In a fight or after one, people will through blame around to divert punishment
away from themselves and to further harm the other person.7 Unless
you are blaming yourself by taking responsibility for the situation, then the
idea of blame should not even be considered in resolving a conflict. Instead,
focus on the facts of the situation and what can be done to solve the problem
at hand in a way that everyone involved is happy about.
Now there are a few ways to
avoid conflict, but there is no guarantee that they will be successful.
Conflict is such a normal part of life that it can spring up unexpectedly or
without you realizing that it was developing.8 The best thing that
you can do to avoid conflict from occurring is by paying attention for the
warning signs and taking action as soon as possible. The state of a business'
organizational behavior can contribute to the development of conflict, so any
necessary changes to improve it should be enacted right away. Businesses are
not always going to be successful in their efforts to prevent conflict, and
that is just a fact that employers need to accept. The world isn't a perfect
place, but people make the most of it.
Skills Are Important in Organizational Behavior
Negotiation skills are
important to business and organizational behavior because of what they can
allow a person to do in times of conflict. They are key to resolving conflict
and solving problems amongst employees. A good negotiator is able to remain
neutral when emotions are high, pay attention to details, communicate
effectively, and seek out compromise.9 These are all skills
necessary in maintaining and shaping organizational behavior.
In some areas of business,
one of the primary duties an employee has each day is to negotiate. This is
applicable to those who are in the legal industry, real estate, law
enforcement, and education, to name a few. Those who negotiate professionally
have turned it into an art form that is now second nature to them. It is a
skill that can be continually honed in the ever-changing landscape of the
professional world, which makes it a nearly priceless asset.
How to Improve Your
So how does one go about
improving their negotiating skills? The amount of work needed depends on how
well you are able to negotiate now. Think about instances where you had to
resolve issues: what did you do? How did you react? What obstacles were there?
Asking these questions can help you determine where you need to improve and how
to go about doing so.
Pay Attention to Body Language- Body language makes up a
significant amount of what a person is trying to say. Even if the person you
are negotiating with is audibly silent, there may be physical cues that they
are involuntarily giving you. Paying attention and learning to interpret these
movements can be like reading a person's mind, and can help you determine how
well a negotiation is going.10
Understand and Recognize Limits-Negotiation cannot be used as a way to force someone into
doing something or into giving you what you want. Every person has their limits
and you need to be able to recognize when someone reaches theirs. If you push
someone's limits too hard or too far, then they can lash out at you and you may
end up starting another conflict instead of resolving one. You and your
abilities have their limits as well; trying to force yourself to continue
negotiating when you're out of steam will only bring things to a standstill. It
may also make it easier for the other person to use their negotiating skills
and get what they want from you if you end up exhausting yourself.
Look For Holes-When
it comes to negotiating in an effort to resolve conflict, there is often two
different narratives about the situation: what actually happened, and what the
person wants you to think happened. A person may make changes to the false
story as they tell it because they are largely making it up as they go; it's
not thoroughly thought through and they can't remember the details very well.
This can cause them to make mistakes and leave holes in their narrative. All
you need to do is catch one and you can unravel the truth of the matter.
Aim for a Win-Win Outcome-In negotiating, you want everyone to come out of the
situation happy with the results. Everybody wants something, and that can be a
contributing factor in how the conflict started in the first place.11
Aiming for a win-win or a compromise can help prevent further issues or
resentment between those involved and against you. It's an equal outcome that
keeps things neutral. Look at what started the conflict in the first place and
listen to what both sides are asking for to find a resolution.