August 10, 2012 1 Comment
Good management means applying or utilizing resources available to a management in order to generate positive , harmonious and desirable results. If this definition of “good management” be accepted then what are the rules that govern conflict management?
A conflict by definition necessitates two opposing points of view or positions. But does the existence of two opposites lead to conflict ? Perhaps not. Life in general is composed of polar opposites and yet nature proves that polar opposites can exist in harmony. In-fact, the edifice of nature is dependent on polar opposites coexisting in harmony. Males and Females, Protons and Electrons, Day and Night, Heights and Depths, Light and Darkness, Life and Death, Sleep and Wakefulness, Customer and Supplier, Buyer and Seller, Action and Reaction, Strong and Weak, order and chaos, heat and cold; are just examples of polar opposites that need to exist in order for natural equilibrium to exist. In fact, the presence of one defines the other.
If the presence of two opposing points of views or positions does not cause conflict , what then causes conflict? In my view, it occurs when party completely denies or attempts to deny the existence or the interest of the other opposite.
I think it is axiomatic to state that harmony is preferable to conflict. In life as well as in work. And thus perhaps the need to articulate the rules relating to conflict management. Here are some rules that I have collected over the years:
- Conflict is war. War is painful. Avoid conflict as far as possible. A good management will anticipate conflict and work far in advance towards attenuating the probability of a conflict arising in the future. This is the most important rule.
- However, conflict will arise. Harmony is defined by it. A good management must be prepared for it.
- Most conflict occurs due to fear of the other. Often, one fears what one does not understand. Often a better understanding can resolve the conflict. And yet it is not easy since understanding comes from engagement and it is difficult to engage with some one who one fears.
- Still, a large proportion of conflict occurs because of mis-understanding / mis- communication of intent. As the pop saying goes “Baat karne se baat banti hai” ( only by talking can you resolve issues). So communicate -> connect – > understand – > resolve -> avoid conflict.
- And yet there will be times when all of the above fails. And then if a conflict arises or persists – engage in the conflict only if one is certain that one can win.
- Do not engage in conflict with some one who is more powerful that you are. You are likely to lose.
- Do not engage in conflict with some one who is very small. There is no glory in winning such a conflict.
- Engage in a conflict to win the conflict. There is no glory in losing the conflict. Therefore choose your conflict carefully.
- Choose the conflict, the time, the place and materials of war. If the adversary tries to foist it on you, try to avoid it. Surprise the adversary – Do not get surprised. Lead the adversary into conflict – do not get led by him.
- Last, but not the least: There are wars and conflicts that one will choose irrespective of the consequences and the considerations above. These are conflicts worth dying or losing everything for. One must know what these are. These often define the person , the organisation , the management or an era.
What else ? What are your thoughts and experiences on the cause of conflict and managing conflict?