Conflict is a natural disagreement and a clash of interests, ideas, goals, and values of individuals and groups. Once any form of dispute or difference arises, conflict is bound to occur. This has always been a natural part of life in every individual, just as successes and achievements are.
We all deal with conflict at home, in our society, and in the workplace. The quick resolution of an existing conflict depends on how a person or a group handles the situation. But a very important process is to be able to identify the signs of a rising conflict.
Let us focus the content of this article more on how to detect or perceive any sign of a conflict in the workplace. Being a part of an organization, you need to be sensitive to the mood of your work environment and be quick in responding to any discomfort in your interaction with coworkers or even with yourself. You need to learn to recognize what conflict is and what it is not, the common indicators of conflict, and the responses of people toward conflict.
What Conflict is and What It is not
It is important to identify the nature of conflict and its characteristics. Personal or intrapersonal conflict arises from within the individual. More commonly, this happens during moments of confusion and lack of conviction and self-esteem. Interpersonal conflict is a disagreement between two individuals. With this kind of conflict, action is an important element. Otherwise, it will be left unresolved and would possibly worsen the situation.
The use of power and influence is manifested within a conflict in order to bring about an outcome. Usually, the aim is to win over the other party and finally settle disputes.
On the contrary, conflict is not a breakdown or a lapse in communication. It is an ongoing process that involves constant communication to discuss, object, and argue over a process or a factor. Conflict is not naturally good or bad.
Just as mentioned earlier, conflict is a normal part of life. The resolution of conflict not addressed through mere communication. Proper conflict management is also a skill. An individual needs to have the ability to efficiently deal with conflicts.
Signs of Conflict
One good way to deal with conflict is to understand how it arises. Since you deal with fellow workmates everyday, you should be sensitive enough and be keen in identifying when a particular situation would grow into a possible conflict. There are many signs and indicators of a rising conflict.
Let us start with the physical indicators. Usually, when you are engaged in a heated argument, one of the most obvious signs is the body language. Facial expressions start to form into a frown or a serious look. The eyes would start to stare or become bulge while arguing. Another very obvious indicator is the increase in voice volume or a change in the voice tone. You would know when a person wants to initiate conflict when he starts to openly disagree with your views.
Now, as to the behavior, the person who wants to start a conflict gradually lessens the respect toward the other party. Intentionally not listening to the opinions is already lack of respect. Lack of candor or openness in discussing current organizational issues and concerns is also another sign. The way statements are constructed may come out strong if there is intent to start an argument.
Varying Responses to Conflict
Knowing how to analyze and recognize the response styles of your coworkers is also a key factor in identifying conflict. This helps you manage the situation accordingly. These classifications of response styles are based on the study of Turner and Weed.
The addressers are those who have the guts to take action and initiate a resolution proposal to convince the other party to agree with them. Those who think that trust should be built between both parties to resolve a conflict are the first-stepper. People who do not believe in plain confrontation to settle conflict are called confronters.
There are those who avoid risks and would rather keep silent. They conceal the situation. They can be feeling-swallowers or those who do not reveal their true feelings toward a distressing situation, subject-changers or individuals who redirect a subject matter into something that is easily agreeable to the other party, and avoiders or people who keep away from an existing conflict.
Lastly, the attackers are those who readily express their feelings and opinions about something. Classified into two types, up-front attackers do not hesitate to openly communicate but they do so with support and agreement, and the behind-the-back attackers are pretty hard to deal with since there is no clear source of criticism.