Conflict Resolution Modes

The management of conflicts places the project manager in the precarious situation of having to select a conflict resolution mode (previously defined in Section 7.4). Based upon the situation, the type of conflict, and whom the conflict is with, any of these modes could be justified.

Confronting (or With this approach, the conflicting parties meet face-to-face and try to

Collaborating) work through their disagreements. This approach should focus more on solving the problem and less on being combative. This approach is collaboration and integration where both parties need to win. This method should be used:

• When you and the conflicting party can both get at least what you wanted and maybe more

• To create a common power base

• When skills are complementary

• When there is enough time

• When you have confidence in the other person's ability

• When the ultimate objective is to learn

Compromising To compromise is to bargain or to search for solutions so both parties leave with some degree of satisfaction. Compromising is often the result of confrontation. Some people argue that compromise is a "give and take" approach, which leads to a "win-win" position. Others argue that compromise is a "lose-lose" position, since neither party gets everything he/she wants or needs. Compromise should be used:

• When both parties need to be winners

• When others are as strong as you are

• To maintain your relationship with your opponent

• When you are not sure you are right

• When you get nothing if you don't

• When stakes are moderate

• To avoid giving the impression of "fighting"

Smoothing (or This approach is an attempt to reduce the emotions that exist in a con-

Accommodating) flict. This is accomplished by emphasizing areas of agreement and de-

emphasizing areas of disagreement. An example of smoothing would be to tell someone, "We have agreed on three of the five points and there is no reason why we cannot agree on the last two points." Smoothing does not necessarily resolve a conflict, but tries to convince both parties to remain at the bargaining table because a solution is possible. In smoothing, one may sacrifice one's own goals in order to satisfy the needs of the other party. Smoothing should be used:

• To reach an overarching goal

• To create obligation for a trade-off at a later date

• When the stakes are low

• When liability is limited

• To maintain harmony

• When any solution will be adequate

• To create goodwill (be magnanimous)

• When you'll lose anyway

Forcing (or Competing, This is what happens when one party tries to impose the solution on

Being Uncooperative, the other party. Conflict resolution works best when resolution is

Being Assertive) achieved at the lowest possible levels. The higher up the conflict goes, the greater the tendency for the conflict to be forced, with the result being a "win-lose" situation in which one party wins at the expense of the other. Forcing should be used:

• When a do-or-die situation exists

• When stakes are high

• When important principles are at stake

• When you are stronger (never start a battle you can't win)

• To gain status or to gain power

• When the relationship is unimportant

• When it's understood that a game is being played

• When a quick decision must be made

Avoiding (or Withdrawing) Avoidance is often regarded as a temporary solution to a problem. The problem and the resulting conflict can come up again and again. Some people view avoiding as cowardice and an unwillingness to be responsive to a situation. Avoiding should be used:

• When the stakes are low

• When the stakes are high, but you are not ready yet

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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