What Will You Choose:  Resolution or Suppression?

Wow, thanks to a genius like Roberto G. Medina, Doctor of Philosophy, who wrote a book entitled Human Behavior in Organization, my discussion about Conflict is about to be finished.  He, surely, is the best!

Thanks also to my ever supportive and appreciative followers and co-bloggers, I had fun sharing with you the knowledge imparted by Dr. Medina.

So to wrap this up, let me discuss with you Conflict Resolution and Conflict Suppression. 

Conflict Resolution occurs when the reasons for the conflict are eliminated.

  1. Problem Solving – this is a face-to-face meeting of the parties in conflict to identify and resolve the problem through an open discussion. 
  2. Superordinate Goals – the parties in conflict must cooperate to attain a shared goal.      
  3. Expansion of Resources – when scarcity of resources is the cause of conflict, their expansion could avert the conflict.
  4. Smoothing – playing down of differences while emphasizing common interests between the parties in conflict. 
  5. Compromise – the technique wherein each party to the conflict gives up something of value. 
  6. Altering the structural variables – involves changing the formal organizational structure and the interaction patterns of conflicting parties through job redesign, transfer, creation of coordinating positions and the like. 

In contrast with conflict resolution, conflict suppression happens when no change in antecedent conditions is made and the manifest conflict behaviors are controlled.

There are two forms of suppressing conflicts:

  1. Avoidance – it consists of (a) pretending to be unaware that conflict exists; and (b) refusal to deal with conflict by stalling and repeatedly postponing action. 
  2. Authoritative Command – this happens when management uses its formal authority to resolve the conflict and then communicates its desires to the parties involved.  

Now you know the difference between resolution and suppression.  So, to resolve conflicts, which of them do you think is the best way?

What will you choose:  resolution or suppression?


Stages of Conflict

Hello, everyone!  This week let us talk about the stages of conflict.

Well, even with evolution, there are stages, right?  Anything, in fact, that begins with something will undergo stages.  Even our lives goes through several stages, from the time we were created in the womb of our mother until the time we take our last breath. 

The stages of conflict are the following:

  1. Antecedent conditions the sources of conflict are the antecedent conditions that set the first stage of conflicts.  An example is the presence of a negative person.  Imagine how your claws tend to curl every time you have someone like that around. 
  2. Perceived and felt conflicts the second stage in the conflict process consists of either the perceived conflict or the felt conflict.  Perceived conflict  refers to the awareness by one or more parties of the existence of conditions that create opportunities for conflict to occur.  Felt conflict, on  the other hand, is that stage of the conflict process wherein emotional involvement becomes a part of the conflict creating anxiety, tension, frustration, or hostility. 
  3. Manifest conflict – that stage in the conflict process where the conflicting parties are actively engaged in conflict behavior.  There may be verbal, written, or even physical attacks. 
  4. Conflict resolution or suppression –  conflict resolution occurs when the reasons for the conflict are eliminated.  Conflict suppression happens when no change in antecedent conditions is made and the manifest conflict behaviors are controlled.  When conflict is suppressed, it may continue to fester and cause future conflict over similar issues. 
  5. Conflict aftermath – what happens after the conflict may be either positive or negative development.  Unresolved conflicts can result in sustained emotional discomfort and escalate into dysfunctional emotional conflict between individuals.  When a conflict is resolved, however, it may establish conditions that reduce the potential for future conflicts, and if they saw so occur, it will be easier to deal with them. (Source:  Human Behavior in Organization, Roberto G. Medina, Ph.D.)

Next week, let’s wrap up the discussion on conflict with the topic about conflict resolution and conflict suppression.  Til then…

      Beware of…the Witch

      My Dear Readers, have you enjoyed the topics I’ve discussed about conflict so far?  In the conflicts that you had been in, were you the angel or the devil? (http://wp.me/p8f1bw-2Z)

      You aren’t the root cause of conflict, I hope! (http://wp.me/p8f1bw-3m

      This Sunday I am supposed to discuss how to deal with conflict, but I realized that I have not discussed in detail the personalities as a personal factor that can cause conflict.

      Do you know that there are ten (10) types of conflict-causing personalities? 

      You must have never thought of labelling the type of personality that someone you had in conflict with before, right?  She is either just a witch or a mere nuisance. 

      So, let us find out what are these ten types of personalities.

      1. The Aggressor (Ang Pala-away)– that type of person who is a verbal bully and who is likely to shout, thump the table, or point the finger in order to emphasize his point.  He or She cause unhappiness and friction within the group. 
      2. The Passive Aggressor (Ang Traidor) – the person who manages to block progress at every turn.  He or she never volunteers to do anything, never puts forward any ideas or suggestions of his or her own, and never works as hard as he or she is capable of doing. Edit
      3. The Chronic Absentee (Ang Pala-absent) – this person makes repeated absences from work. 
      4. The person who makes too many errors (Ang Palpak). 
      5. The Negative Person (Ang Nega)– this person is always critical of other people and their achievements.  A variation of the negative person is the one who foresees failure in every suggestion. 
      6. The Chatterbox (Ang Chismosa) – this person is one who often comes into a workplace, full of gossip or inconsequential news, and distract or disrupt workers from their production activities. 
      7. The Do-Nothing Person (Ang Tamad) – this person does not want to do anything because he or she is scared of making a mistake.  This forces others to do what he or she is supposed to do. 
      8. The Unreliable Person (Jack-of-all-Trade) – this person wants to be liked by others and because of this, he or she agrees to do what everyone asks.  Because he or she gets overloaded with work, he or she ends up unable to do most of the tasks he or she sets himself or herself to do. 
      9. The Time-waster (Ang Pawala) – the person who thinks company time can be spent for his own personal benefit like using it for personal telephone calls, preparing a shopping list, or playing computer games. 
      10. The Resentful Person (Laging Galit) – this is the person who always feel resentment.  What he does negatively affect others. His feeling of resentment is a result of any or all of the following:
      • Personal dislike of a certain person 
      • Bigotry (prejudice against a particular race or culture) 
      • Prejudice against women 
      • Prejudice against younger people 

        So, can you now identify what is the type of personality that someone you had in conflict with has?  Are you sure you don’t have one of the personalities enumerated herein? I hope you are not one of those people who gets being whispered behind their backs as…


        Are You the Root Cause of the Conflict?

        Hello, Dear Readers!  Let me continue the discussion about conflict that I started last Sunday. Today, let me share with you what are the sources of conflict.
        There are only two broad categories of conflict.

        Yes, there are  only two, but, under each category, as the word “broad” implies, there are several factors that contribute to the conflict.

        1.  Structural Factors – refer to the nature of the organization and the way in which work is organized.  They include:

          • Specialization – when people specialize on their jobs, they become less aware of the tasks that others perform.

          • Interdependence – when two or more units depend on each other in completing their respective tasks.  Tension is created if the dependent unit cannot start working because of delays in the other unit.

          •  Common Resources – when an organization’s resources are shared by two or more parties.  The possibility of conflict becomes greater when the resource becomes scarce. 

            • Goal Differences – when different work units have goals that are incompatible.

            •  Authority Relationships – how the superior and the subordinates feel about each other may sometimes be a cause for conflict.

            • Status Inconsistencies – when managers receive certain privileges that are not available to non-managerial employees.  Resentment and conflict becomes a possibility.

            • Jurisdictional Ambiguities – when a part of the company’s overall tasks is left without a clear indication on who should be responsible.

              2.  Personal Factors – the result of individual differences.

              • Skill and Abilities – for example, when a supervisor does not possess the technical skills required in the performance of tasks in his particular unit, workers may develop a negative attitude towards him.

              • Personalities – people do not think, feel, look, or act alike, and these personality differences can cause conflict.

              • Perceptions – for example, when an employee is perceived by his superior as the most effective and rewards him with a promotion, conflict occurs when others disagree with the perception.

                •  Values and Ethics –  for example, when a new employee works hard as expected by his superiors, he may be regarded by the old workers as trying to do something that may expose their shortcomings.

                • Emotions – uncontrolled emotions can cause conflict. For example, when stressed, one immediately flares up at anyone and anything that irks him/her.

                • Communication Barriers – when communication between workers is not effective.  For example, the workers barely understand the language of their superior which results to a negative effect on their performance.

                So, in your own experiences, what kind of factors create conflict between you and the people around you?   Hopefully, the source of conflict is not you. 

                Next week, let me discuss with you how to deal with conflicts.

                  Are you an Angel or the Devil?

                  As we live in this world, no ordinary man living could ever say he never had any conflict with anyone.  Even those declared as saints must have at one time or another been in a conflict or two.  But how each one of us handle such conflict is what can set us apart from one another.

                  To understand the topic much better, let me first discuss with you the theories behind this trouble maker.

                  What is conflict?

                  Conflict is an active disagreement between people with opposing opinions or principles.  It can be constructive or destructive.

                  Constructive conflict is a healthy, constructive disagreement between two or more people.  This is the type of conflict that can actually benefit people and the organization where such people belong to. 

                  People engaged in constructive conflict develop a better awareness of themselves and others, thus, they are able to produce new ideas, learning, and growth among individuals, leading to innovation and positive change for the organization on which increased productivity may be expected.  Working relationships are also improved when two parties work through their disagreement, lifting up morale when tensions are released (Roberto G. Medina, Ph.D., Human Behavior in Organization, p.237).

                  Destructive Conflict, on the other hand, is quite the opposite of constructive conflict.  Destructive Conflicts can decrease work productivity and job satisfaction and contribute to absenteeism and job turnover (p. 238).

                  There are four (4) levels of conflict:

                  1. Intrapersonal Conflict – the kind of conflict that we face internally as when we experience personal frustration, anxiety, and stress; 
                  2. Interpersonal Conflict – the type that occurs between two or more individuals who are in opposition to one another.  For example, in the pursuit of their goals and the means for their accomplishment.  Emotional conflict (i.e. conflict arising from feelings of anger, dislike or resentment) is another example. 
                  3. Intergroup Conflict – this occurs among groups in an organization.  This type of conflict is actually quite common in organizations.  Nonformal groups, after all, are common even just within an office composed of several employees.  Groups that might have different sets of views about certain things in the office or have varying interests that might clash with one another. 
                  4. Interorganizational Conflict – that type of conflict that occurs between organizations which is most commonly referred to the competition and rivalry among firms operating in the same markets.

                  Let us continue the theories of this topic on a further discussion next week.  For now, let us focus and apply the theories we have learned so far in the world of the living.

                  So, have you been in a conflict?  Were you the Angel or the devil in that conflict?  The villain or the heroine?

                  So far, from the theories we discussed, we learned that not all conflicts are negative.  There are kinds of conflicts that if we only look at it positively can challenge us to do things better, to improve ourselves.  By lifting ourself up from the negative concept of clashing with someone, we begin to realize that the situation has helped us instead to strive for the better and our disposition lightens up making us capable now to reach out to the other person and fix up our differences.  If the other is willing and of positive disposition, as well, imagine what great things the two of you can possibly create.

                  So, to end today’s post, let me share another Bible verse that may impart an important reminder to us.

                  Negotiation:  A Deeper Understanding

                  Would you agree that whatever is our status in life, no matter what age, sex inclination, religious beliefs, and in whatever walks of life, we experienced negotiation one way or another?

                  Negotiation is not just a topic discussed in the study of Public Administration but it is one truth in our lives that we deal with even no matter how simple one’s life is or how basic things are done in the workplace or at home.

                  So, let me walk you through today on another topic of Public Administration as a theory and as a subject of research and presentations on the said course based on books (e.g.  Human Behavior in Organization by Roberto G. Medina, Ph.D.), Wikipedia and other sources.  Afterwards, allow me also to give you ideas or examples how we apply such theories consciously or unconsciously into our dealings with other people.  This topic is in line with my discussion last week about Executive Decision Making (http://wp.me/p8f1bw-1O).

                  So, what is negotiation?

                  Negotiation, according to BusinessDictionary.com, is a bargaining (give and take) process between two or more parties (each with its own aims, needs, and viewpoints) seeking to discover a common ground and reach an agreement to settle a matter of mutual concern or resolve a conflict.

                  There are two major approaches to negotiation (Robbins and Judge, p.58; Human Behavior in Organization by Roberto G. Medina, Ph.D., p. 249):

                  1. Distributive Bargaining -“The Fixed Pie” approach;  the goals of the parties are in conflict, and each party seeks to maximize its share of the resources.  This win-lose approach is really a process of dividing or “distributing” scarce resources. 
                  2. Integrative Negotiation          Everybody Wins Something (usually); described as the win-win scenario; the focus is on making it possible for both sides to achieve their objectives; usually involves a higher degree of trust and a forming of a long-term relationship to create mutual gain.

                  There are three basic elements of negotiation:

                  1. Process refers to how the parties negotiate:  the context of the negotiations, the parties to the negotiations, the tactics used by the parties, and the sequence and the stages in which all of these play out.  Refer to the Negotiation Process presented on the image below.
                  2. Behavior refers to the relationships among the parties, the communication between them and the styles they adopt. 
                  3. Substance refers to what the parties negotiate over:  the agenda, the issues (positions and – more helpfully – interests), the options, and the agreement (s) reached at the end.

                  There are also five negotiation styles:  

                  1. Competitive Style involves forcing others to accept one’s view.  Can take many forms, including authoritative mandate, challenges, arguing, insults, accusations, complaining, vengeance, and even physical violence (Morril, 1995).
                  2. Avoiding Style adopts a “wait and see” attitude, hoping that problems will solve themselves.  Methods include changing the subject, skip meetings, or even leave the group altogether.
                  3. Compromising Style are used by individuals who are eager to close the deal by doing what is fair and equal for all parties involved in the negotiation.
                  4. Accommodating Style is a passive but prosocial approach to conflict by giving in to the demands of others for the sake of group unity or in the interest of time.
                  5. Collaborating Style involves solving tough problems in creative ways and identifies the issues underlying the dispute and then works together to identify a solution that is satisfying to both sides.

                    I am sure by now in your own mind you can identify from your own experience which of them can be classified as to the different negotiation styles you used to a particular situation.  Let me cite a few examples of simple events that may have happened in our lives where we apply the five styles of negotiation.

                    First,  would you believe that in playing card games such as poker or even playing mahjong, each player adopts the competitive style? Each player wants to bring the pot money home.  Each will play their cards or tiles close to their chest but will try to pry as much information from the other side.  Each one will try to demoralize the other players so that the others cannot concentrate or play effectively, thus, winning the bet.

                    Second, don’t you know that walking out of an argument or changing a topic when it’s getting hot and is more likely to aggravate a situation, either in the office or at home, is adopting the avoiding style?  We usually adopt this kind of attitude especially at home when we get into a misunderstanding with our love ones and we don’t want to say or do things we will regret later on.

                    Third, are you aware that haggling with a fish or vegetable vendor for their produce or goods and agreeing on a stated price for these products is a form of adopting the compromising style?  There is a limited time to complete the deal so we just try to haggle as much as they will concede with the thought that we offered and they accepted what is fair and equal for both parties.

                    Fourth, do you agree that conceding or accepting the point of views of someone close to you without really being convinced that he/she is correct is using the accommodating style?  This may look like superficial compliance but because we wanted to preserve relationships we give in to them and sometimes, in the process, gets taken advantage of.

                    Fifth, would you agree that in this world, nothing is impossible, no hurdles can’t be tackled, no mountains can’t be climbed, no problem remains unsolved if we have that special someone who can hold our hands together, with God’s blessings, to collaborate with?  Try this most ideal style, the collaborating style, in more complex undertakings and find out how effective it can get.

                    See?  If you had not realized it before how negotiation plays even in the mundane things we do, think again.  Different situations call for different styles but we should try to bear in mind that there is a lot of advantage in trying to adopt the collaborating style as much as possible, but if it really gets too difficult, try to, at least, settle and agree on a compromise.

                    Dear Readers, I hope to receive your comments or your own point of view regarding this topic.

                    Executive Decision Making 

                    I am supposed to share with you this Sunday a PowerPoint presentation on the topic but alas, my luck with my internet connection is not holding up well, it seems. So, for now, let me just share with you the pertinent aspects of this topic, excerpts from an article, that I hope readers who are interested on this topic will find a bit helpful on their own research as well.  For my reference, I would like to give credit to whom/where it is due.  Thanks a lot to Sanjeev Swami for sharing such a comprehensive article on “Executive functions and decision making:  A managerial review” (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.iimb.2013.07.005).
                    So here goes the excerpts of this article.

                    The topic of decision making falls under the broad topic of executive functions.  Executive functions are basically the management system of the brain.

                    The best way to explain the role of executive functions is that it is similar to a conductor’s role within an orchestra.  He cues each musician, so they know when to begin to play, how fast or slowly to play, how loudly or softly to play and when to stop playing.  Without the conductor, the music would not flow as smoothly or sound as beautiful (Low, 2009). 

                    So, what is decision making?  

                    Decision making refers to the mental (cognitive) process of selecting a logical choice from the available options.  When trying to make a good decision, a person must weigh the positives and negatives of each option, and consider all the alternatives.  Thus every decision making process produces a final choice which can be an action or an opinion of choice (Reason, 1990).

                    There are three theories of decision making: the Subjective Expected Utility (SEU) Theory, the Multi-Attribute Utility Theory (MAUT), and the Prospect Theory.

                    However, in real life, the decision problems are often so complex that the use of any one theory is usually ruled out.  Instead, several cognitive biases and errors creep in our decision making.  Thus, to simplify the decision making process, decision makers often use efficient decision rules known as heuristics.

                    Heuristics are rules of thumb or strategies that are likely to produce a correct solution, but are not guaranteed to do so.

                    Some commonly reported heuristics are:  

                    • Representativeness heuristic.  Under this heuristic, the events that are representative of a class are assigned higher probability of occurrence.
                    • Availability heuristic.  It involves estimating the frequencies of events on the basis of how easy or difficult it is to retrieve relevant information from long-term memory.

                    Schoemaker and Russo (1993) in their “pyramid of decision approaches” discuss that there are four general approaches to decision making, which presents the practical aspects of executive decision making:

                    • Intuitions – receiving input and ideas without knowing exactly how and where you got them from.  Other terms for it include:  gut feeling, sixth sense, instinct,etc.
                    • Rules – quick and often clever ways to approximate an optimal response without having to incur the cost of a detailed analysis.  Rule-based decisions means decisions that just follow the implemented rules and guidelines that already exist but which is subject to change thus must be updated on a continuous basis.
                    • Importance weighting – application of MAUT.
                    • Value analysis – when a decision is truly important and complex, value analysis conducts a more comprehensive assessment.  It links factors to key objectives, which results in a “goal hierarchy”.

                    On the pyramid, the higher the method is, the more accurate, complex and costly it tends to be.  However, the pyramidal shape shows also that higher approaches are used less frequently than lower ones and for more important decisions.

                    To sum it all up, executive decision making is a thought process which implies assessing and choosing from several competing alternatives, using either short-cut strategies or heuristics and cognitive biases or the more scientific approaches in decision making, depending on a situation that may arise.