Conflict Management Reflective
I have read the ACAP Student Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct Policy and understand its implications. I also declare, if this is a practical skills assessment, that a Client/Interviewee Consent Form has been read and signed by both parties, and where applicable parental consent has been obtained. 6th January, 2014. Today I reflect on a conflict that happened recently at work and at times can be an on-going issue within my workplace. Christmas/New Year is the busiest time of the year in the Deli department, and my manager is in charge to obtain enough staff to handle these shifts.
Conflict escalated, when my manager began giving 30 hours to all the junior staff, while I was only receiving 8 hours a week. As a result, I was extremely angry with my manager, as I felt, because of my age, I was over-looked for shifts. My manager did not diffuse the situation by explaining her reasons and chose to ignore me, which resulted in this conflict situation initially evolving from a covert situation (non-cooperation) to soon showing attributes and levels from the overt spiral, from Eunson’s (2007) conflict spiral (p.
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This finally resulted in complaining, which then began escalating to anger and eventually arguments between not only my manager, but with other staff members on my team. On reflection, I would normally not let a situation like this escalate to the point that it did. DeVito (2009), states that interpersonal conflict is inevitable, and that conflict can have both negative and positive effects, depending on how the conflict is handled (p. 278). I believe in this effect, this conflict actually did have a positive outcome.
After stepping back to cool down, I approached my manager to ask why I had been overlooked. Seeing that I had calmed down, she explained to me that she had planned to give me extra hours in the New Year as she knew I would be taking the time off for study commitments. She explained her hands were tied from management and to make it fair, she divided the shifts between us over the Christmas/New Year period. On reflection of this, my manager was hoping for a win-win for all of us, though at the time I did not see this and chose to enter conflict.
Perhaps if I had shown more empathy and better listening skills, for example; taking the time to listen to the needs of others, as well as stating my own needs (DeVito, 2009. p. 280) and worked for collaboration and negotiation instead of a I win-You lose competing attitude where my needs and desires came first and gave little thought to anyone else (DeVito, 2009, p. 279) this situation would not have escalated the conflict spiral (Eunson, 2007, p. 12) the way it had done. 14th January, 2014
Today I reflect on a conflict which happened today between my husband and myself. Based on Eunson’s (2007) conflict spiral model (p. 12), this conflict evolved from a covert situation (non-cooperation) and soon escalated to an overt situation (nagging, followed by a brief argument). My husband was required to complete some paper work for a government department and was given a due date but he had failed to complete it. This resulted in his payments being temporarily suspended. As a result, conflict between us emerged, and a heated exchange of words took place.
I had asked him on several occasions whether he had completed this paper-work and each time, I was met with an “I’ll get to it” response. (Cornelius & Faire, 2006, p. 37). states; Wherever possible, the task is to continue the win/win approach, to show others the value and beliefs of cooperation. In this instance, I felt that my husband was ignoring my request to complete this paper-work as not only would this affect his payments, but it would also have an effect of me, and the last thing I wanted was for us to continue bickering and escalate this situation further.
After the way I handled my previous conflict at work, this time, I decided to approach this conflict from a different perspective and approach it differently. This time I wanted to keep the conflict in perspective (DeVito 2009) and not blow it out of proportion to the extent it would escalate further up the conflict spiral (Eunson 2007). Instead, this time I sat down with my husband and listened to why he hadn’t completed the paper-work. I needed to understand what he was feeling and why he was feeling this way and as a result discovered that he was unsure on some of the questions and didn’t quite know how to complete it properly.
After going through the paper-work with him and helping him complete it, it was sent off and the issue was resolved and his payments restored. On reflection, because I feel I had used a better conflict management technique, and used empathic and objective listening skills (DeVito 2009) I was able to ascertain my husband’s reluctance in completing the paper-work which then resulted in me sitting down with him to help him through completing it. Integrated Statement
Reflecting back over the past few weeks, I can honestly say I did not realise that there were different personal styles of handling conflict. Eunson (2007) lists five different approaches to conflict based on conflict analysts Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilman TKI mode. Until recently, my method would be to avoid conflict and rather than face and tackle the conflict head on, I would rather walk away from it. After reading through and analysing both Eunson (2007) and DeVito (2009) texts on conflict management, it did
not occur to me that I could allow conflicts to fester and grow (DeVito, 2009, p. 280) and I was facing a lose-lose situation. My conflict at work, where I now feel I was using the competing mode of I win-You lose (DeVito, 2009, p. 279) realised this mode was in fact causing more conflict within the workplace. Reading through the Thomas-Kilman TKI, I decided to approach my manager with the compromising approach. I knew I would never achieve the result I wanted, and therefore realised that a compromise would be an acceptable outcome where I would achieve at least some positive results.
My conflict with my husband again proved I was willing to adapt and change my approach to this conflict. By collaborating with my husband and aiming for a win-win approach, by using effective empathetic and listening skills, this conflict was sorted out successfully. In summarising, I have discovered each of us is capable of using all five conflict handling modes. None of us can be characterised as having a single style of dealing with conflict. We each learn to adapt to the conflict at hand.
Certain people may use some of these modes better than others and, therefore, tend to rely on those modes more heavily than others – whether because of their temperament or practice. By thinking a conflict through, and by using active listening skills and using empathy, we can all hopefully achieve a win-win solution to our conflict.