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Team Dynamics: Handling Conflict

1. Overview

  • Conflict is normal
  • Conflict may lead to better solutions
  • Conflict can be rational (cognitive) or emotional (affective)
  • Individuals display various assertive or cooperative behaviors which determine how conflict will be resolved
  • Handling conflict requires understanding of the causes, escalating factors, and techniques for resolution
  • Team conflict resolution requires a deliberate process

2. Conflict is. . .

  • Inevitable and inescapable (a normal part of life)
  • A periodic occurrence in all relationships
  • An opportunity to understand opposing perspectives, preferences, and values
  • Good when it fuels change or growth
  • Dysfunctional when it prevents the team from achieving its goal(s)

3. Benefits of Conflict

  • Raises the awareness that a problem exists
  • Highlights opportunities
  • Encourages self-discovery and builds self esteem
  • Promotes understanding of others’ perspectives
  • Leads to new/improved ideas
  • Reveals alternate choices or better solutions
  • Challenges old assumptions and outdated practices/processes
  • Encourages individual/team growth
  • Leads to individual/team performance improvement (if managed effectively)

4. Types of Conflict

5. Behaviors During Conflict


6. Conflict Causes, Escalation, and Resolution

  • Causes
    • Competition (winning)
    • Resource distribution (sharing)
    • Power struggles (controlling)
    • Task & process content (working)
    • Personal differences (liking & disliking)
  • Escalation
    • Uncertainty > commitment
    • Perception > misperception
    • Soft tactics > hard tactics
    • Reciprocity > retribution
    • Irritation > anger
    • Few > many
  • Resolution
    • Negotiation (Win/Win)
    • Understanding (Empathy)
    • Cooperative tactics (concern for others and self)
    • Forgiveness (tit-for-tat cooperation and competition)
    • Composure (count to 10, adjourn meeting, think before sending angry email)
    • Few (reduce # of people involved, isolate)


7. Conflict Management Steps

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