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BUS403 Negotiations and Conflict Management

Published : 20-Sep,2021  |  Views : 10


Conflict is disagreement, differences or discord between employees or between employee and management or organization. Conflict in an organization is becoming matter of concern as many contemporary business human resource managers spend lots of time solving conflict between various employees.  Some types of conflict are interpersonal, group or organizational conflict.

Another category of conflict in work place is horizontal or vertical conflict.   Horizontal conflict occurs between individual and individual while vertical form of conflict exist between individual and organization, management or another person of high capacity such as manager and employee (Gibbons, 2007).  

In contemporary workplace there is different conflict of which the common conflict is work style conflict. Example of work style conflict is where one employee work hard while another employee is not hard working yet both are in the same department raising complains. in order to solve the conflict between this two employees the conflict resolution process takes into consideration some conflict management strategies or management principles.

Some of the conflict management strategies are competition, avoiding collaborative, stress and anger management, and accommodative strategies. This paper also gives an example of contemporary workplace conflict that exists between two sales representatives of a company (Seraji, Otouee, Deldar & Khah, 2013).



Conflict refers to the discord that occurs due to the difference in ideas, interest, or values between two parties. Work place conflict therefore refers to the discord that may arise from difference between two parties within the workplace. Workplace conflict between employees within the workplace may be due to disagreement between two different employees or between employee and supervisors. As explained by CCP, (2008), workplace conflicts can be use attributed to some of the legal battles that are witnessed in the contemporary business setting. Moreover, the output for any department in an organization is highly affected with the presence of conflict within that organization (Dreu, 2008). This gives the importance of examining the workplace conflict in the contemporary workplace with the main focus on resolution or conflict management strategies. Understanding of contemporary workplace conflict requires deeper analysis of the whole concept of conflict in an organization or workplace. In order to explain strategies that are needed to solve workplace conflict in is important to first understand different types of conflict that exist in an organization (Lang, 2009).

Types of conflict

Interpersonal conflict

Interdependence conflict is type of conflict that arises due to dependence on another employee’s output.  This may due the in ability of another employee to give or play their role in the production system (Latreille, 2011). For instance, one employee depending upon records from another employee to give the sale records leading to late reporting by another employee. Secondly, differences in style is conflict that result from difference in leadership skills and ideas especially among leaders in an organization. One employee may be slow in doing job while another employee like doing job faster. Thirdly, differences in background/gender are conflict due to difference in experience, age and gender that may bring difference among employees. Fourthly, personality clashes are another type of conflict due to difference between two employees due to emotions and perceptions differences (Kray & Shirako, 2009).

Group conflict

Group conflict is the hostilities or difference between different groups within an organization. Group conflict can be categorized into intergroup conflict or intra-group conflict. Firstly, intergroup conflict is the conflict between different groups in an organization. Intergroup conflict can be between employees from departments such as between sales department and production department. Secondly, intra-group conflict occurs between employees within the same group or department. The disagreement may be between an employee and supervisor within the same department (Dreu & Weingart, 2003).

Organizational conflict

Organizational conflict on the other hand is the difference or discord that may occur with an organization.  Organizational or workplace conflict can be horizontal or vertical in nature. Firstly, horizontal conflict may occur between two or more employees of the same level or capacity. For instance, two accountants disagree on handling of customer within the banking hall. Vertical conflict is the conflict between two different employees of different capacity or level in an organization. For example, an employee disagrees with human resource manager or employees in disagreement with company management over the late payment (Huo, Molina, Sawahata & Deang, 2005).

Contemporary conflict in work place

There are many contemporary conflicts within workplace, some contemporary conflicts in work place range from leadership style to conflict of interest.  Conflict of interest is where an employee benefits from situation while the company or other employees are affected with the situation. Another contemporary conflict within workplace is work style conflict (Jones & Saundry, 2012). Work style conflict on the other hand is the conflict that may arise due to difference in working habit or styles. Work style conflict is conflict that can arise between and employee and another employee or two managers with different work styles. One employee may like working in a team while another employee prefer working individually (Talmaciu & Maracine, 2010). This difference in working style may cause serious conflict in workplace. Work style conflict is most common conflict that is experience in the contemporary business world today. Work style difference always considers personal interest as oppose to that of organization or others working on the same place. This implies that work style conflict is mostly connected to conflict of interest that is common in the contemporary workplace (Dix & Sisson, 2009).

Work style conflict example

Work style or differences is a contemporary workplace conflict that is reported by a number of human resource managers currently. A scenario of work style conflict involve two employees one called John like working through the day six days a week while another employee work on the same department called Peter like working on the weekends and often come to work late. John and Peter both work as sales representatives from a company. John continuously complains of Peter’s bad work reporting habit to human resource manager. Peter on the other hand thinks that John should concentrate on his work and consider the result of sales. There are many strategies that can be used to resolve or mange the conflict between John and Peter.

Conflict resolution process

Conflict resolution process is where the two parties in conflict are managing conflict. During conflict resolution process the difference are discussed and amicable solution is arrived at. Conflict resolution may require all parties to reduce the emotions and anger so as to reduce frustration that is caused by the conflict. At this level of conflict management various negotiation methods can be applied so as to prevent further consequences of conflict in an organization.  Another component of conflict resolution process is the application of various conflict management or resolution strategies (Behfar, Peterson, Mannis & Trochim, 2008).

In order to solve work style conflict that exist in contemporary workplace such as conflict between John and Peter there is need to apply conflict resolution or management strategies.  Conflict resolution or management strategies are also connected to some conflict management principles. In this essay some of the strategies are applied to solve the work style conflict in contemporary workplace with example from John and Peter Five strategies to solve or mange the conflict between John and Peter include accommodating, competing, avoiding, and collaborative and compromise strategies (BIS, 2011).

Conflict preventive strategy

It is always important to prevent the conflict before any aggression is realized between employee and employee or between employee and management. Some of the common aspects of conflict preventive strategy take into account high level of team work and aim at building trust among employees and consider communicating organizational requirement to employees. In the scenario as part of workplace orientation the human resource manage need to outline the requirement to solve the conflict between John and Peter. Steps that are involved in applying conflict preventive strategy are discussed below. First, at the point of employment, organizational code of conduct need to be well communicated that properly show working hours and employee to employee relationship.  Secondly, the management needs to do regular job evaluation to analyze the corresponding output and the job style that is used by both Peter and John. This will help the management to assess the job habit between Peter and John and know the result of the different styles used by both employees. Thirdly, as preventive measure the organization need to address the reporting time for work to prevent conflict due to late reporting as seen in Peter.

Accommodating strategies

Accommodating strategy is the conflict management strategy where the needs for one employee are sacrifice for the need of another employee. In this strategy the main issue to consider is relationship and goals of the department or organization involved. This strategy is commonly called appeasement or smoothing strategy. Accommodative strategy often concentrates on the relationship building without the need that is achieved in the conflict resolution. The avoidance strategy also considers the result or output of department where there is conflict. The strategy focus on the customers that are served with the department to achieve middle ground that will ensure continuity of the services provided. The steps that are involves in applying accommodative strategy are: firstly, understanding the conflict situation that need to be addressed and the need for each person in the conflict. Secondly, there is need for developing relationship with the other party in conflict at the expense of personal interest.

 In this scenario, private meeting between John and Peter is important at the department level or at the office of human resource manager. In order to solve the issue careful listening of the matter is important. In this strategy some principles such as active listening and thinking before reacting are used. John could sacrifice his long working hours to accommodate Peter’s working habit.  To ensure continuous good working relationship between John and Peter within the same department without any further conflict John can accept to work with Peter. In this sense John will have to sacrifice his interest to accommodate Peter.

Competition strategy

Competition strategy takes into account the importance of matter of conflict that cannot be risk. The goal of competition strategy is to win. For instance, competition strategy evaluates the core values of the organization to compare it with the conflict situation. In addition, this strategy does not consider importance of the relationship with the parties involved in the conflict.  Studies show that competition strategy is used to achieve short term results for conflict. To solve the conflict between John and Peter using competition strategy, core values of the company and the output or result of the department where John and Peter work will be put first before anything else. Advantage of competition strategy is decisive and addresses personal need. The only disadvantage of competitive strategy is the damaging of the relationship between employees and the management.

Avoiding strategy

Avoiding strategy is another strategy that can also be used to workplace conflict. This is strategy that aims to avoid conflict through delay or choosing to withdraw from conflict. One advantage of avoiding strategy is to prevent other related conflicts for instance conflict between management and employees. Phrase that can be used in avoiding strategy is “I will think about it tomorrow” (Wood, Saundry & Latreille, 2014). The only challenging issue in this strategy is the continuous conflict between john and peter due to avoiding conflict by management.  Steps involved in avoidance strategy are: firstly, avoidance strategy can also work in hand with counseling strategy. Counseling strategy is where one may choose to avoid or ignore the conflict but later on counsel the parties involve to prevent any future conflict and in the event solve the conflict. Counseling of employees on consequences of conflict and organization code is important for avoiding direct conflict confrontation (Bowling & Beehr, 2006). Secondly, the human resource management office may later evaluate the relationship between the parties in conflict to know whether the conflict is escalating or not.

When applying the avoidance strategy human resource manger can choose to avoid the conflict between Peter and John to give them more time to think about the situation. One of the principles of avoiding strategy is assurance of fair resolution while at the same time the manager delay to attack the problem. Avoidance is also used in conflicts that seem unimportant due to other important issues that are dealt with at the same time by management. The management may decide to avoid conflict through counseling of the two employees differently without direct involvement in the conflict. Moreover, it has been proved that counseling is effective for any future dealing with the same conflict or any associated conflict (Schaller, 2008).

Collaborative strategy

Collaborative strategy on the other hand is where two conflicting parties agree to collaborate and continue working together. According to CIPD (2011), this type of strategy takes into consideration the principle of mutual gain. In addition, collaborative strategy looks for win-win ground for both parties in conflict. Another importance of collaborative strategy is maintenance of interdepartmental or intergroup relationship. Collaboration is known to take a longer period of time as it aims to make agreement from disagreement. One principle of conflict management that can be applied in this conflict management strategy is private meeting between two employees and the manger in charge of the department. Collaborative strategy work in hand with compromise strategy since both strategies find the common or middle ground where both parties will mutually benefit (Malhotra & Bazerman, 2008).

Compromise strategy takes into account situation that allow one person to partially lose and anther partially win. Compromise strategy aims to find the middle ground for both parties that are in conflict. Mostly in compromise strategy, human resource manger finds expedient and mutually acceptable ground for both. In compromise strategy, John will partially win by encouraging peter to report to work on time more than he has been previously working. This is according to the organization working or reporting time that may contradict Peter’s working style. In order to compromise situation, the manger will apply the company’s rules and regulation that guides working hours and reporting time to work (Alper, Tjosvold & Law, 2000).

In the case between John and Peter, the two employees after discussion may decide to work together in a collaborative environment. In order to ensure win-win situation, John can decide to work at a particular time that is convenient for him and peter also select his own working time as long as the two working hours does not contradict the organization’s work code. To realize a listing solution to the conflict contradictory remarks from john are considered and interest of peter also is considered to reach an agreement between the two employees. When solving the difference between John and Peter they need to apply the conflict management principle of taking full responsibility of one’s behavior. Both employees need to realize the importance of taking responsibility of reporting time and correct depending on the stipulation in the organization code of conduct (Saundry & Wibberley, 2014).

Stress and anger management strategy

The stress or anger due to emotion is the main causes of conflict in workplace. Disagreement in workplace may result in stress and anger that cause conflict between two employees within an organization (Saundry et al, 2014). When one employee is confronted by another employee there is need for third party that can cool the temper of angered employee. One of the most important principles that are used in stress and anger management is elimination of bias during stress management. Stress is the source of aggressing that may lead to open confrontation between parties in conflict. Biasness on the other hand may lead to worst conflict situation with no conflict resolution. Sometimes elimination of bias may make the parties to attack the problem that is not appropriate conflict management strategy (Batcheldor, 2000).

The two principles that are applied in this strategy are awareness and finding solution. Firstly, awareness is where the manager tries to understand the situation between John and Peter and how it cause stress. This makes awareness of the workload and task distribution to prevent any future conflict between John and Peter. Secondly, finding solution or help principle does not find fault from the conversation but tries to listen to the two employees. This implies that the main aim of this strategy is to focus on ways to end the conflict without finding what wrong or defensive idea within the conversation is (DeChurch & Marks, 2001).

Conflict at work place is associated with some negative impacts that result from conflicting situation. The impact of conflict is significantly important in performance of individual and organization. Conflict normally requires time to solve and to some extent destroy good working relation in an organization. In addition, a lot of resources are spent in managing conflict or in losses that are cost by conflict. Conflict may also require organization or individual to hire a lawyer when the dispute cannot be solved at the organization. This is affects the organizational resources and time leading to losses or decline in organization or employee performance. The overall result of conflict at workplace is always negative to the organization and should be solve in time and in the best way. Preventive approach to management of conflict in contemporary business workplace is the most appropriate (CIPD, 2015).


In conclusion, conflict is the discord that may occurs between two or more parties in workplace. Some types of conflict are interpersonal conflict, organizational, or group conflict. In contemporary business workplace conflicts may exist between individuals or between individual and organization or management. Two most common conflicts that are found in contemporary workplace are conflict of interest and work style conflict. Work style conflict is particularly important since it also takes into account personal interest in workplace. Work style conflict is where one employee prefers certain work style as compared to another employee that prefers working in a different way. The two employees come into disagreement, clash or conflict. Some strategies are applied to solve conflict between these two individuals. Some of these strategies are accommodation strategy, avoidance, collaborative, competitive and stress and anger management strategies.  


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