Good Example Of Conflict Resolution In The Workplace Research Paper
Interpersonal conflicts are a common occurrence in the everyday lives of people in the society. These conflicts between who are friends, family members, peers, intimate partners among others. Some of the conflicts are usually resolved within a relatively little time period while other take a relatively long time to resolve and, in fact, involve more intensive strategies of resolution. Conflicts are also prevalent at workplaces. This paper aims to conduct a secondary research on various articles published over the years that explore the vice of active listening and mutual communication as conflict resolution tools. The paper will begin by stating the hypothesis of the research and then a statement of the research questions. This will be followed by the statement of the main variables, both dependent and independent. This will then be followed by an active discussion of the main research findings. Finally, the research will identify areas of the topic that require more research.
People have the habit of carrying their interpersonal relationships to work, and whenever there are interpersonal relationships, people are bound to disagree and conflicts are, therefore, likely to arise or emerge. These may be conflicts with fellow workers, with subordinates and with seniors or supervisors. Conflict affects employee’s productivity at the workplace and, therefore, the productivity of an entire organization. Effective management of conflict can improve the interpersonal relationships between people and maintain the productivity of an organization. One of the vices that have been exposed to intensive research to establish whether it is indeed a good conflict resolution vice is active listening.
This paper will be premised on the hypothesis that active listening is one of the most effective tools of conflict resolution in the workplace and when utilized, it ensures that the stakeholders of an organization are at pat with each other. The research will be guided by tow research questions?
What are the main elements of active listening that are usable in resolving conflict at the workplace?
What is the exact impact of active listening tool and what are the accruable benefits to the organization as whole when this vice is used to resolve conflict.
There are two sets of variables in this research. The first is the independent variable. In this particular research, the independent variable is active listening. The dependent variable in this research is conflict in the workplace.
The two variables are qualitative in nature, and this cannot be assigned numeric measures on a general scale. They are, however, measurable in other dimensions. For example, conflict in the workplace is measurable by the number of fights between work mates, the level of authority adherence and so on. Active listening on its part is hard to measure bit it can nevertheless be indicated by the number of compromises that people at the workplace are able to make whenever conflicts arise.
Phillips (2007) is one of the persons who have written on active listening as tool for conflict resolution. Although this article is about 8 years old, it should not be considered because most of the concepts that he addresses in regards to active listening and conflict resolution are still hugely applicable today. According to Phillips (2007), “effective conflict management, it is believed, is directly related to active good active listening”. The author contents even in mediation processes that normally accompany a conflict; active listening is crucial component. Part of conflict resolution is exchanging information and information exchange is maximized when people at the discussion table have active listening skills. Active listening means that people are considerate of other people’s needs and concerns. It means that people are not blinded by their own beliefs, views, and opinions and fail to listen or consider the opinions of others. This is why conflict resolution must be accompanied by active listening on both sides of the debate.
According to Phillips (2007), one of the elements of active listening that is crucial in conflict resolution is “formulation’. Formulation is a technique whereby the individual embroiled in a conflict at the workplace listen to others and their messages without making any form of judgment (Phillips, 2007).
The role played by active listening in conflict resolution is justified by the purpose that is carries and this is to generate a deep meaning as well as understanding of the motives and concerns and others, something that then acts as the basis for the exploration of solutions that are mutually acceptable for resolving the conflict at hand (Mayer, 2010).
One of the factors that fuels conflicts in the workplace is the fact that a majority of the people talk a lot without actually listening to one another. Workers may for example on how to go about a certain duty (Weger et al., 2014). When a worker is speaking out his own view, the other worker is not actually listening but is rather creating or formulating their own response or even a rebuttal. People at the workplace usually have the habit of judging of others using their own viewpoint, opinion or values. They rarely take the time to listen to the full opinion of others and with this; it is actually quite impossible to resolve a conflict (Weger et al., 2014).
Another aspect that further fuels conflict is when emotions are involved. A conflict may escalate so much that emotions might arise, and when this happens, it ultimately becomes hard to listen to one another. This is where active listening skills become important. The manager has the role of promote active listening between the conflicting parties. When conflicts are between two workers, it is usually the manager who is tasked with the role of being a mediator (Weger et al., 2014). The manager has to exhibit exemplary listening skills and remain impartial as possible; that is listen objectively to each side of the argument. In addition, the manager who as mentioned is the mediator must also ensure that each of the parties embroiled in the conflict actually listen, and each is given an opportunity to state their side of the story. This has been shown to greatly help in conflict resolution.
Active listening as a skill demonstrates that one understands and is indeed concerned with the other person’s point of view. Simply put, active listening essentially promotes better communication between individuals and also brings about a calming effect when situations threaten to become overly emotional (Weger et al., 2014). As a conflict resolution tool, it helps in checking whether one’s understanding of something is correct.
Active listening has two primary components. One of these is to name the particular feeling being conveyed by the next person. The other is blatantly stating the reason for this particular feeling. It is, however, crucial to note that active listening is not the same as agreeing. When one actively listens, it does not mean that one agrees with the other. For example, a supervisor at the workplace may be giving directions to a certain subordinate. The subordinate many listen to these directions but ultimately disagree with them (Mayer, 2010). However, before disagreeing, the worker actively listens to the supervisor and understands. It is only after this that the worker expresses his discontent with what was being express. However, since the two parties were actively listening to each other, they are able to compromise before their disagreement escalates into a full blown conflict.
Active listening as a tool for conflict resolution at the workplace not only helps to dilute the intensity of a situation, but it also brings about several other benefits (Weger et al., 2014). It helps workmates to get an understanding of one another and, therefore, it leads to the building of trusts between he workmates. Active listening also helps in the changing the attitudes between work mates as well the relationships between the people in the workplace. It enables people from themselves biased personal beliefs and views and actually delve in the feelings, views and thoughts of others and, therefore, be able to assess one’s own beliefs and see whether they are valid.
As observed above, a lot of authors have written on active listening as one of the components of conflict resolution at the workplace. This paper has collected a lot of information from different authors about this vice as one of the key components of conflict resolution. Many have shown that active listening skills in different stakeholders in the workplace can help to resolve and manage conflicts at the workplace. Conflicts as mentioned earlier derail the entire productivity of the workplace and, therefore, it is important to eliminate them as soon as they arise.
However, there is still a lot of research that needs to be conducted in regards to this topic. For example, it emerges that although active listening has been cited as one of the components of conflict resolution, there has not been much research on who different workers and people at the workplace can be trained to be active listeners. It is important to note that active listening is not a skill that comes naturally. People need to be trained to be active listeners. Most of the research does not seem to indicate how active listening can be propagated and proliferated in the organization. In future, research should focus on this aspect. In addition, therefore, should be more research on other aspects of conflict resolution that can be utilized in addition to active listening in order to manage or mitigate conflict in the organization. In addition, there should be research on the substitutes that can be utilized in place of active listening if the individual involved in a conflict are unable to ascribe to the tenets of active listening. This research was done conclusively but perhaps one area that could have done differently is to go to actual field, that is the actual workplace and collect data about active listening skills and their usability in conflict resolution at the workplaces.
Phillips, B. (1999). Reformulating dispute narratives through active listening. Mediation Quarterly, 17(2), 161-180.
Weger Jr, H., Castle Bell, G., Minei, E. M., & Robinson, M. C. (2014). The relative effectiveness of active listening in initial interactions. International Journal of Listening, 28(1), 13-31.
Mayer, B. (2010). The dynamics of conflict resolution: a practitioner's guide. John Wiley & Sons.