Managing conflict and disagreements at work

Practical solution to problems and confrontation to resolve differences

Disagreement in and of itself cannot be denied, as disagreement accompanies progress and change. What is worth regretting is our failure to use disagreement constructively. There is no doubt that practical problem-solving and constructive confrontation help resolve differences and open channels for discussion and cooperative behaviour.

Conflict in institutions is unavoidable because the goals, values and needs of groups and individuals do not always coincide. Disagreement may be a feature of sound organization, and spontaneous agreement on everything may be an unnatural and degrading feature of the powers. It is normal for there to be differences of opinion about tasks and projects, and in this case these differences should not be suppressed, but should be shown because this is the only way in which points of disagreement can be revealed and settled.

There is what is called creative disagreement – that is, new or modified opinions, insightful opinions, approaches, and solutions that can be created by jointly re-examining different points of view if this is done on the principle of objective and rational exchange of information and opinions. The conflict becomes a conflict that produces repercussions if it is based on personal differences, or if the dispute is treated as a disgraceful impasse that requires speedy disposal, rather than as a problem that requires finding a way out. Conflict resolution relates to differences between groups or individuals.

Resolve differences between groups

There are three main ways to resolve differences between groups: peaceful coexistence, compromise and problem-solving.

Peaceful coexistence

The goal of peaceful coexistence is to calm differences and confirm points of agreement, so that people are encouraged to live in peace so that in this case there is exchange of information and communications as well as exchange of opinions, and individuals move freely between groups and between each other (for example, moving between the main center and the different branches)

There is no doubt that this is a wonderful goal, but it is not applied in all cases. Evidence often proves that differences are not resolved by bringing people together. While we see that there are means of communication that may be useful, such as giving them specific and final instructions, but this method is useless if the administration does not have something to say and the individuals want to hear it. And here is the possibility of danger, which is that the real differences may disappear for a moment in an atmosphere of superficial calm, and soon to float to the surface later.


The dispute is resolved by negotiation or bargaining, neither party wins nor loses in this case, because the idea of fragmentation of the dispute is pessimistic in its foundation, and the distinguishing feature of this method is that there is no correct answer or preferred answer, as agreements are the only ones that settle disputes, but real differences It cannot be resolved.

Problem Solving

There is an attempt to find a real solution to the problem better than settling the different points of view, which is through the obvious contradiction “creative disagreement”. This is done by using cases of disagreement to create or find innovative solutions.

If we want to develop solutions to solve problems, these solutions must be invented by officials who believe that the solutions are useful. And these innovative solutions are as follows, first: officials define the problem and identify the goals that can be reached to find a solution to the problem. Second: The group presents alternative solutions to solve the problem and studies its advantages. Third: Agreeing on the preferred solution and studying how to implement it.

Resolve differences between individuals

Resolving differences between individuals can be more difficult than resolving differences between groups. Whether the dispute is out of apparent hostility, shrewdness in disguise, or whether it involves strong personal opinions.

Yet James Weir and Louis Barnes say:

((The ability to resolve the dispute in a constructive manner represents a great challenge to administrative success. The intensity of the differences between individuals increases with the increasing intensity of the differences within the institution without making it jeopardize overall performance and development)).

Weir and Barneis go on to say that interpersonal conflict is like conflict between groups – an organizational reality that is neither good nor bad. It can be destructive or it can play a constructive role. Problems arise if the existing dispute is suppressed in an artificial way, or if its intensity exceeds the ability of the opponents, or if a third party intervenes as a mediator.

In addition, the action in relation to the dispute between individuals may be the withdrawal of one of the parties, leaving the other party alone in the arena. This is the traditional win-lose situation. But if the problem is solved by force, then this is not the best solution for it if this solution represents one point of view for one individual and ignores the other opposing points of view, which he – in fact – completely annihilated. The winner may be victorious and the loser may be oppressed, in which case he will be driven to fight again one day. There may be a truce to the dispute, but it will not have an end.

There is another way to calm the differences and pretend that the disagreement no longer exists even though no attempt has been made to address the roots of the disagreement. This method is also an unsatisfactory method because it is likely that the problem will appear again and the stage will also resume again.

Another way to resolve the dispute is to bargain to reach a settlement of the dispute. This means that both parties are willing to gain or lose some points, and the goal is to reach a solution that satisfies both parties. However, bargaining involves all sorts of tactical counter-stratagems, and the parties are often more eager to reach compromises that they accept than to reach a sound solution.
However, Weir and Barnes identified two ways to manage interpersonal conflict: control and constructive confrontation.

the control

Control includes preventing interaction, building interactions, and reducing or changing external pressures.

Preventing interaction is a strategy used when agitation runs high. Where the conflict is controlled

By separating the two parties, despite the existence of differences, to give the people concerned an opportunity to calm the differences and think about resolving them in a constructive way. This method may be a temporary means and the potential confrontation is more explosive to the dispute.

The strategy of building interaction forms can be used if we cannot separate the two parties. In this case, basic regulations can be developed to deal with the dispute by communicating information between the two parties or dealing with existing problems. This strategy may also be a temporary remedy if different opinions are suppressed rather than reconciled.

As for personal consultations, it is a strategy that does not focus on the dispute itself, but rather on the interaction of the two parties. This strategy allows them to release trapped tensions and encourage them to find new ways to settle the conflict, but it does not focus on the basic nature of the dispute, which is the relationship between the two parties. Therefore, constructive confrontation offers the best hope of providing the eternal solution to the disagreement.

Constructive confrontation

Constructive confrontation is a method of bringing the two sides of a dispute closer together. It often takes place in the presence of a third party whose role is to create a climate of understanding and cooperation between them.

This method also helps the two parties to get acquainted with the different points of view of each. It is a process of developing mutual understanding between them in order to reach a solution that satisfies both parties, so that problems are faced on the basis of a joint analysis of these problems with the help of a third party and an analysis of the facts related to the situation and the actual behavior of the two parties. Points of view are expressed and analyzed, and they are also analyzed by linking them to specific events and actions, and not by linking them to conclusions or to studying motives.

As for the third party, it has a major role in this process, and it is a difficult role. This party’s responsibility is to reach agreement on the ground rules for discussions aimed at showing facts and minimizing aggressive behavior. It is also his duty to monitor ways of expressing negative viewpoints during discussions and to encourage both parties to identify problems and identify their causes and motives to reach a mutually satisfactory solution. It is also the duty of the third party not to take sides in any of the parties to the dispute.

Finally, the third party must adopt the personal consultation method as follows:

To listen and all ears.
Observing and listening at the same time.
Helps both parties to understand and identify the problem by asking questions related to the subject of the dispute.

Recognizes points of view and allows both parties to express them.
Helps both parties to find alternative solutions to problems.
Assists both parties in developing implementation plans and provides advice and assistance if requested.

Several years ago, Mary Parker Follett, one of the leading writers on management, wrote something about conflict management that is as true now as it was then. And this thing is:
((Differences can contribute to the general issue if they are resolved by integration and not through control or settlement)).


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