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Conflict management in different settings

Muhammad Zahir

A conflict is a disagreement or quarrel, which takes many shapes in a workplace. It can occur between people in different constituencies in which people representing organizational units, between organizational level, such as labor and management, and between family members or personal relations. It is a dynamic process that is precipitated, developed and governed by joint communication strategies of the parties involved.

According to Hocker and Wilmot, conflict is “An expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scare rewards and interference from the other party in achieving their goals.”(Hair & Friedrich,1999.P-363). The ability to recognize, engage in and manage conflict is an important skill for anyone, especially those who aspire to succeed in organizations because conflict is widespread in organizational life. Conflict also occurs between parents, among children, peers and people in different organizational units. It would not be overstating the case to say that conflict is one of the most troublesome communication activities in organizations.

Conflict in a family

One of the most important sources of conflict in the family is misunderstanding and lack of proper communication between parents and their children. In this rapidly changing world, parents of today do not properly understand the needs and requirements of their children. They treat them according to their own wishes and what they want, and want them to do what they want them. Therefore, it creates conflict between them. The parents need to understand the respective position of their children. Another factor of conflict is the poor relationship among family members. The relationship between parents and children, brothers and sisters and other family members are vitally important because they may have a lasting influence on development of an individual, adult personality, and the roles. Conflicts generally also arise from immature behavior, general attitudes and a level of respect shown unbecoming to parents, or to the other individuals in the family. Besides quarreling with the siblings, relationship with relatives, especially aged grandparents, uncles, cousins at home. The amount of autonomy from family one could have its impact on relationships. Conflict also occurs in families due to the schooling of children. The adolescents’ school performance, behavior at the school and their attitudes towards school receive much attention from parents. Parents remain concerned about the grade and level of performance, study habits and homework, regularity in studies. “Sometimes, pressure on the adolescents to succeed in school is excessive, resulting in lowered self-esteem, deviant activity and a feeling of failure in reaching goals set by families.” (Eskilson,, 1986)as quoted by Philip Rice.

Adolescents’ social lives and ways do create conflict with parents than any other aspects are their choice of friends, cloths, living style, time of outing, where they are allowed to go or not, and the type of activity they attend or can’t. In some context the choice of life-partner and the time they spent with the family also become an issue. It is a general complaint of the parents that their children had never been at home and do not spend time with the family, and a type of responsibility children must take up. When the adolescents do not show enough responsibility, the parents become critical of them on this issue. They expect them to show responsibility in the earning, spending of the money, activities of the family, caring of personal belongings i.e. like cloths, books, room etc. and using family property and doing work for others outside home.

Indeed, the most important and significant aspect for which parents remain concerned more about are the ethical and moral values, because the age of the internet and bombardment of information revolution has exposed and inclined them towards bad habits like, drinking, smoking and using drugs, sexual behavior etc. (Inazu & Fox ,1980). As quoted by Philip Rice, “Parents are particularly worried about adolescents’ sexual behavior. Interestingly, the quality of mother-daughter relationship is the strongest predicator of the daughter’s sexual experience. The more favorable the daughter’s relationship with her mother, the less likely she is to have premarital six.”

The Quranic teaching, sayings of the prophet and sages are filled with moral and ethical values and there is hardly any teaching and sayings in which there is no emphasis on it. If the parents and their children or adolescents strictly follow these teaching and sayings, conflict does not occur in families. There are values and morals on which the foundation of the family and society rests. Most conflicts between parents and children develop on setting of personal and shared boundaries. If someone setsa commonsense limits and follows them in everything in life, children will not feel frustrated. They will breathe a sigh of relief at knowing where they stand because they will feel there is something stable order. Children would feel some integrity and will respect that. If there aren’t such defined reality, children will go on testing until they find something that feels real. They may look outside the family for the reality that provides them strength. Strength of character is not walking around barking order at a child or saying no, no, no, but a question of setting things out clearly so, the child can be free. ‘This is your freedom between heretothere, and if you step over this line the consequences will be this’. The first thing that many children shall try to do is step over the line because they want to test parents to see if you’ve said, ‘that will be the consequence’.  You have unconsciously moved the guidance out further. And your boundary is no longer real. Your words are not real to your children and they will not respect you because there is no integrity. Children are very literal in how they take what you say. And if they see your words mean nothing, if you are dithering and don’t know where to go, or if you are uncertain of your previous decisions, children sense that uncertainty and will feel uncertain themselves about and that is where big problem start.

Results of conflict

High level conflicts affect family cohesiveness and have an adverse effect on adolescents’ development. Adolescents in families with high level of conflicts are more likely to evidence antisocial behavior, immaturity and low self-esteem than those in families with low level of conflicts.(Montemayor,1986) Conflicts create negative feelings and hatred in the family and it gives rise to mistrust, disobedience and misconceptions. Conflict can be positive as well as negative. Positive conflicts keep the family members viable, creative and self-critical. It initiates a good stand and inspires them to perform better. But the negative conflicts can cause unrest among them. It dissolves trust and kills the zeal to perform better. Conflicts in families will eventually lead to disorder in groups, communities and world society at large. Thus domestic disorder will eventually disturb peace within and out.

If we want to lessen conflicts in our families and lives, weneed to be interested in our children. We have to help them, spent quality time with them, Listen, understand and communicate with them well. We should provide companionship and meet one another’s needs of affection and meaningful relationships to flourish. We should create an amicable environment in our families. Everyone has conflicts and challenges to deal with in daily life are frictions which spur growth and learning. To know how to grip over conflicts and use them for growthis a rare talent. Most people allow conflicts to buffet them around. Conflicts teach lessons. Traditionally children have been taught to face conflict by fighting back, stay cool and calm, turning the other cheek, or being the nice person realize how much do we really gain from our conflict.

Few people realize how much dynamic energy gets bound up in a conflict. That energy can be taken hold of and released into higher creative potential when we know it how to use. Regardless of which method people have used to deal with conflicts we can all probably agree that most people still do not understand themselves or other very well.” (Hills.1980, P-6)

Steps to settle and resolve conflicts

Tanuja Birla identifies the following steps to handle and resolve conflicts are:

Identification of causes of conflict: The first step to settle conflict is to recognize its origin. The cause of conflict will be either obvious or hidden and it can be resolved only if its root cause is detected, thereby making the existence and reasons of conflict apparent. To handle the conflict, one has to spot it.

In-depth understanding of situation: To resolve or handle the conflict requires a complete analysis of the situation. For that one has to find out the real cause of conflict, parties involved, the antecedent conditions to conflict.

Plan your approach: Conflict resolution requires a mutually beneficial outcome, so the search for that is necessary. Be impartial and clarify the difference in order to interpret insights of both the parties in conflict.

Control the situation: Harmony is the ultimate goal and conflict settlement requires wisdom, compromise and foresights to accommodate rather than confront. Because assertive in acknowledging the views and rights of all parties and encourage them to find the causes of conflict.

Ensure proper communication: Proper communication is a key to resolve the conflict. Through proper communication a climate is made where the problems can be aired, and tensions are resolved.

Bury the past: Forget about the past and think about future. Find an acceptable way, evaluate the options and choose the one, which is the best and go forward with that.

Thus, we can conclude that conflict is a relative phenomenon occurs in every organization, society and family. It upsets the milieu, output, relationships and understandings and it has a deep impact on lives of the people live on that particular setting. Dealing with conflicting situations we need to have a foresight to understand it, its origin, root causes, factors responsible for it, and the possible settlement of it. The critical role of bridging the communication gap is important and critical to settle it sooner than later.


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