On Thursday 10th October, CEDR Ireland ran an interactive conflict management skills workshop in Dublin which was attended by professionals from a wide range of professional backgrounds. The workshop was delivered by the James South and Tracey Fox from the CEDR Training Faculty.
Conflict is inevitable in the workplace. It has been reported that, on average, managers spend 20% of their time managing conflict in the workplace. Past conflict research has distinguished between three types of conflicts among individuals in the workplace: relationship, task, and process conflict.
For some organisations, the traditional approach to managing that conflict has been to react to it on an ad hoc basis as it arose. However, organisations are now realising the importance of effectively managing conflict in a proactive manner and addressing the conflict at the earliest point possible so as to avoid the conflict escalating.
Attendees at the workshop were introduced the Thomas Kilman approaches to conflict management. Under this model, there are five different orientations or styles are possible for handling conflict: competing (domination), collaborating (integration), sharing (compromise), avoiding (neglect), and accommodating (appeasement). Attendees completed an assessment which provided them with an insight into their own preferred styles for managing conflict and an outline of the advantages and disadvantages of each of the styles. This section of the workshop equipped attendees with the necessary skills for identifying alternative approaches to handling different conflict situations.
Strong emotions are both a cause of, and a result of conflict. James and Tracey highlighted that people in conflict may have a variety of strong, and often negative emotions–anger, distrust, disappointment, frustration, confusion, worry, or fear. These emotions often mask the substantive issues in dispute. In the workshop, attendees had the opportunity to enhance their individual skills relevant to holding difficult conversations, such as managing emotions, asking effective questions and active listening.