Conflict is a fight, battle, or struggle. It is seen everywhere among us and sometimes needed to dissolve disputes among individuals (internal) and/or large groups (external). Conflict management is a healthy way to identify and dispute conflicts in a way that it is fair to both parties. “Managing conflict can be constructive in the long run.” (1) When two parties with different ways of thinking can come to an agreement, it furthers the chance of innovative ideas in the future. Growth between two parties means faster progress for everyone. Understanding conflict management is important in an organization is understanding that all conflicts cannot be resolved, but can be managed enough to be able to lessen a hostile environment without affecting performance and production. If left unattended conflict can lead to an unrecoverable path and make changes that can disrupt the balance of an organization and its counterparts. When managed correctly through good communication and strategic actions, the results can be positive as opposed to negative. (1)
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It is extremely important to notice the factors that may potentially lead to conflicting situations. Soldiers have to consider every case when there is conflict brewing because this will give direction when trying to manage the result. Soldiers have different backgrounds therefore; they bring different ideas, values, and beliefs to duty stations. (2) These same factors are strengths of units, but all these things can lead to conflict. Conflict is unavoidable, so teaching Soldiers to improve the way they function in a melting pot of different people can advance their understanding of conflict and their capabilities to manage and resolve conflict. (2) Knowing how to dispute tensions in many different situations can set you aside from other Soldiers. Talking through and finding the underlying cause of tensions is key. The Army is a big organization and we expect everyone know how to communicate, but this is not always the case. Communication can be tricky because no one is perfect, which means conflict will not always come to an agreement. The most important thing is when there is an even more neutral ground than when the conflict initially started.
“Constantly avoiding conflict teaches the brain, in a negative way, that this is what is keeping us safe from unpleasant feelings.” (4) The bad thing about this is that we are dragging out something that needs attention ASAP. Avoiding conflict is a major issue when dealing with big organizations because people’s lives can potentially be at stake. Conditions from avoiding conflict can include threats and even wars. Conflict avoidance breaks down into three different categories including ignoring the problem, changing the subject, and/or shutting down all together. Sometimes going through the process of managing any problem can actually be more stressful than the actual situation. This is not good to do because suppressing your emotions is unhealthy and when a Soldier is in distress and cannot think strategically then operations do not run as smooth as they should. (3) It is more likely for more tension to arise when you least expect it when the level of anxiety is at an all-time high.
When handled correctly conflict management can make an issue disappear as if nothing ever happened. Collaborating and accommodating are two models that categorize good conflict management. The collaborating mode is high assertiveness and high cooperation, which uses the ideology of “putting an idea on top of an idea… in order to achieve the best solution to a conflict.” (2) In the collaborating mode, the group comes up with a solution rather than an individual. The accommodating mode is low assertiveness and high cooperation mode, which means using selflessness, obeying orders, and forgetting your desires. In the accommodating mode, the purpose is to keep peace since the topic is of low importance to one party. Using of these methods can create a better situation in a time of conflict and relieve stress when needed.
When an individual or organizations can understand how too properly manage conflict, the different kinds of conflict, and healthy ways to address it operations will run smooth. Leaders should be helping their peers and subordinates with listening, oral communication, and teamwork because it very much can make a difference when managing conflict. Conflict management is definitely one of those things that takes an initiative and work. It will not always be easy, but knowing how to manage conflict properly can ultimately make our lives so much easier. As a Non Commissioned Officer, it is important that conflict management gets trained whether its seniors, peers, or subordinates alike.
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