Characteristics of Problem Solving

Let us now consider more specific features of Confrontation, the most effective method of resolving interpersonal conflict. Insights from the present investigation and the writings of others (e.g., Blake, Shepard and Mouton, 1964; Maier. 1963; Maier and Hoffman, 1965) becomes relevant. The following then are characteristics of Confrontation as a method of managing conflict;

(1) Both people have a vested interest in the outcome. (Examples I, 2, 3, and 4).

(2) There is a belief on the part of the people involved that they have the potential to resolve the con flict and to achieve a better solution through collaboration.

(3) There is a recognition that the conflict or the problem is mainly in the relationship between the individuals and not in each person separately. If the conflict is in the relationship, it must be defined by those who have the relationship. In addition, if solutions are to be developed, the solutions have to be generated by those who share the responsibility for assuring that the solution will work and for making the relationship last.

(4) The goal is to solve the problem, not to accommodate different points of view. This process identifies the causes of reservation, doubt, and misunderstanding between the people confronted with conflict and disagreement. Alternative ways of approaching conflict resolution are explored and tested (Examples 2 and 3).

(5) The people involved are problem-minded instead of solution-minded; "fluid" instead of "fixed" positions. Both parties jointly search out the issues that separate them. Through joint effort, the problems that demand solutions are identified, and later solved.

(6) There is a realization that both aspects of a controversy have potential strengths and potential weaknesses. Rarely is one position completely right and the other completely wrong. (Example 4).

(7) There is an effort to understand the conflict or problem from the other person's point of view, and from the standpoint of the "real" or legitimate needs that must be recognized and met before problem solving can occur. Full acceptance of the other is essential.

(8) The importance of looking at the conflict objectively rather than in a personalized sort of way is recognized. (Example 3).

(9) An examination of one's own attitudes (hostilities, antagonisms) is needed before interpersonal contact on a less effective basis has a chance to occur.

(10) An understanding of the less effective methods of conflict resolution (e.g., win-lose, bargaining, etc.) is essential.

(11) One needs to present "face-saving" situations. Allow people to "give" so that a change in one's Viewpoint does not suggest weakness or capitulation.

(12) There is need to minimize effects of status differences, defensiveness, and other barriers which Prevent people from working together effectively.

113) It is important to be aware of the limitations arguing or presenting evidence in favor of your own Position while downgrading the opponent's position.

This behavior often stimulates the opponent to find even greater support for his position (increased polarization). In addition, it leads to selective listening for weaknesses in the opponent's position rather than listening to understand his/her position.

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