“Crisis?  What Crisis?” 
Dealing with Conflict Management

There is more conflict today in the workplace than ever before. 

People today work side by side with others of different genders, cultures, generations, socio-economic levels, expectations, and even differing views on religion, politics, and standards of conduct.  Some conflict can lead to new insights and creativity and can be productive. However, excessive conflict between employees is an increasing occurrence that can escalate to uncomfortable proportions and affect productivity if not dealt with professionally and effectively. 

Approaches to handling conflict can be assertive or unassertive, cooperative or uncooperative. There are five basic approaches:

  • Forcing/competing – an assertive, non-cooperative approach, using whatever means are available to prove or defend your position – the “win by any means” approach.
  • Withdrawal/avoidance – a non-assertive, non-cooperative approach, usually used when the situation/relationship becomes dysfunctional.  Rather than try to resolve the conflict, the person withdraws from the situation either physically or emotionally, or both.
  • Smoothing/accommodating –unassertive and cooperative, it involves self-sacrifice; continually accommodating others can lead to resentment.
  • Confrontation/collaboration – is both assertive and cooperative, and involves people working together to resolve issues.
  • Compromise – assertive and cooperative, is finding a happy medium that is mutually acceptable to all involved.

     Conflict can also be minimized by:

  • Providing diversity training
  • Recognizing, accepting, and even capitalizing on the differences between people
  • Publishing clearly defined policies and guidelines for employees
  • Learning how to manage people with differing value systems    
Conflict management is the various means by which people handle conflict with others. There are numerous ways to prevent conflict in the workplace. 

Providing appropriate training for both managers and employees can help a business to run more smoothly and, perhaps, even more profitably.  The Business Institute can provide your company or organization with Conflict Management training at your site or another, in your time frame, addressing your problems with targeted solutions.

Contact the Business Institute
 at 815-232-1362 or by e-mail at businessinstitute@highland.edu,
to see how we can help you
avoid or resolve conflict in your organization.

Written and submitted by Mary Zierold Holcomb, freelance writer.

BI Solutions is a monthly e-newsletter designed to inform you of emerging business trends and help you be more successful in the workplace. Please let us know what you think by sending a note to BusinessInstitute@highland.edu


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Scott Anderson, your instructor, is Associate Dean of Business & Technology at Highland Community College, an experienced Blueprint Reading instructor, and has taught for over 20 years.

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February 2008

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