Conflicts are inevitable in the lives of people. A person can be involved in a conflict situation with family members and friends as well as colleagues or even strangers. Conflicts are usually caused by the incompatibility of principles, aims, interests, or experiences. In every case, the success of conflict resolution depends on the selected strategy.
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In its turn, the choice of a strategy for conflict resolution is determined by the type of conflict, usually people- or issue-focused. Whetten and Cameron suggest a two-dimensional model of conflict behavior based on such characteristics as assertiveness and cooperativeness. It includes five approaches to conflict management, such as avoiding, accommodation, compromising, forcing, and collaboration (387).
Traditionally, compromising is considered the most appropriate approach, which is intermediate between assertiveness and cooperativeness. However, Whetten and Cameron claim that a collaborating approach can be more efficient because it can “address the concerns of both parties” (388) fully. Thus, collaborating seems to be the most constructive way of conflict resolution.
Collaboration as a way of conflict resolution is considered efficient in the majority of cases (Huebsch). It presupposes the development of the best possible solution for all conflicting parties. The advantages of collaboration include the opportunity to express the concerns of every party and work together to develop solutions favorable for all the parties involved (Huebsch).
Collaboration is frequently treated as a problem-solving method (Whetten and Cameron, 388). Moreover, it also includes a creative component that allows for developing non-common or non-traditional solutions.
Its peculiarity is the determination of the cause of the conflict and not finding someone to blame. This specific feature makes collaboration a rational approach suitable for diverse conflict situations. Moreover, collaboration is based on the respect of all the involved parties.
Compromise takes an intermediate position in the two-dimensional model of conflict behavior (Whetten and Cameron 387).
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Although frequently considered a favorable outcome, compromise can provide only partial satisfaction for the participants of the conflict. It means that every party has to sacrifice or make some concessions to “obtain a common gain” (Whetten and Cameron 388). Still, compromise can be appropriate in some conflict situations.
For example, in case the goals are of moderate significance, and collaboration approach application is unjustified, compromise can be used (“Conflict Management Techniques”). Another situation that allows compromise as a conflict-resolving method is the one that needs a temporary decision on more complex problems.
Moreover, compromise can become a first step in the relations of new partners that have not developed mutual trust and do not have any experience of collaboration. Still, in many conflict situations, the attempt to apply compromise as a resolving approach can lead to dissatisfaction with both parties. Moreover, it does not stimulate the development of trusted partnerships.
Generally speaking, while both collaboration and compromise can be efficient in certain situations, the overuse of the latter can lead to hasty solutions. Moreover, the lack of collaboration in the resolution of conflicts restrains innovation due to the lack of creative problem-solving.
The collaboration that is known as a win-win approach provides the most benefits for every party involved in the conflict and lays the groundwork for future cooperation because it reveals and solves the existing and does not conceal them.
The resolution of conflicts is connected with such emotional human needs as belonging and achievement. In this respect, compromise would not be effective. On the one hand, this approach seems “fair to both sides” (Whetten and Cameron 388). On the other hand, however, it is frequently illogical and impractical.
Moreover, it does not lead to the solution of a problem that caused conflict, and thus, compromising decision cannot be considered an achievement in most of the cases. Another important thing to consider about compromise for conflict resolution is its influence on the parties involved.
Thus, the members of the teams can feel underestimated or having no power in case their conflict is resolved with the help of compromise. Consequently, they can lose the sense of belonging to a team, which can cause further conflicts.
In the case of a collaborative approach that follows a win-win model, all parties experience the feeling of success, which helps to meet the need for achievement. The use of this approach creates a collaborative environment that is able to reduce conflict situations.
Moreover, collaborative conflict resolution is aimed at long-term relations built on trust and respect and addressing the interests of all the parties involved. It also contributes to the sense of belonging because collaboration considers the interests and suggestions of all the participants.
The use of a collaborative approach can suit many conflict situations in diverse locations. Its specific feature is the common solving of the problem. This strategy presupposes a dialogue that helps to clear up the positions of the involved parties and study the existing facts. The outcome of this solution is usually fair and does not reduce the quality of the action or decision that caused the conflict.
Collaboration is a strategy that can be used for both personal conflicts and for crisis management in megaprojects. A study by Smits and Brownlow discover the cross-corporate culture conflict and its resolution with the help of collaboration strategy (395).
The authors define the problems that can lead to ineffective collaboration and consider corporate ethnocentrism to be one of them. Although Smith and Brownlow define cross-corporate culture conflicts as challenges for the success of the project, their study proves that collaboration is a successful method of conflict resolution.
At the same time, compromise can also be efficient. I have experienced a conflict involving an employee who is constantly late, and the manager who was not satisfied with this situation. The conflict had to be resolved because the manager was ready to fire the employee.
The employee was usually late because of transportation problems. Moreover, he was a good worker, and the company needed him. Thus, they came to compromise that the employee can be late, not more than ten minutes. Probably, it was not the best solution, but both parties partially benefited. The manager retained the employee, and the employee preserved his position. Still, the initial problem was not eliminated.
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On the whole, the choice of conflict resolution approach depends the situation and intentions of the parties involved. Compromise and collaboration as the most popular approaches, have their own benefits and disadvantages.
However, I consider collaboration to be more effective because it does not provide a temporary immediate result, but is aimed at the elimination of the conflict reasons. Moreover, it stimulates the development of a collaborative culture, which can reduce the number of conflicts. In addition, the collaborative approach provides mutually beneficial solutions while compromise presupposes partial satisfaction.
“Conflict Management Techniques.” Personality Explorer.
Huebsch, Russel. “The Advantages and Disadvantages of Collaborating Conflict Management.” Chron.
Smits, Karen, and Robert A. Brownlow. “Collaboration and Crisis in Mega Projects: A Study in Cross Corporate Culture Conflict and Its Resolution.” Independent Journal of Management & Production, vol. 8, no. 2, 2017, pp. 395-415.
Whetten, David A, and Kim S Cameron. Developing Management Skills. 7th ed., Pearson Education, 2015.