Organizational Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution is important within any organization, and is an important life skill.

Our daily interactions that bring about conflict should be moments we harness for our incremental improvement. These can teach us something about conflict resolution on a micro and macro level.

When someone cuts us off in traffic, a co-worker says something we just don’t like, or a manager that makes inconsiderate demands, our small responses become our habitual behavior for responding to conflict. These small tests become the way we respond to exams, so to speak.

If we practice negative responses or positive responses, what we practice becomes our ordinary reflexes to conflict in general: even without thought.

Imagine a martial artist that practices punching and kicking over and over to where those movements become instinctual in their reflex responses, nearly without thought, when in a moment of sparring. They are training their reflexes because they understand the human body and mind. If you practice rhyming or witty banter, you know how practicing will lead to quicker instant responses on the spot, this is just how the mind works.

We know that stress can play a negative role in our overall being. Constant anger, judgment, condemnation, hate, etc., add to our stress and the stress of our environments. Those stressors are like the brawler that clinches their muscles when they spar—slow, restricted, and are more prone to self-injury. Practicing like this makes one’s losses far more painful because the “ego” is in the way. It also discourages others from training with them.

Instead of limiting one’s self, practice responses that have less anger, less judgment, less condemnation, less hate, less control. Our daily positive responses help us move toward reflex responses that have more joy, more encouragement, more peace, more love, more understanding. These are the qualities of the martial artist that flows like water. Being loose allows for imaginative play, flexibility when needed, growth, less prone to injury, and more likely to win.

Practicing these also gives us an appreciation for the lessons learned in our losses, as opposed to taking them as painfully had we practiced the negative responses—a win-or-learn mentality over the win-or-lose mentality.

The positive reflexes in conflict resolution allow us to take moment to reflect without a fogged mind, encouraging us to:

  1. Understand
  2. Set Visions
  3. Explore
  4. Agree to Action

Imagine, now, that the organization is going through changes, and out of those changes arises two distinct groups of thought in which a conflict of visions occurs. If there are peacekeepers within the organization, as conflict resolution would necessitate, it would be imperative to find points of commonality between the groups. Mutual understanding and expressed visions while providing an environment conducive for exploration are necessary to allow the organization to survive and thrive with agreed action.

If things go unresolved between the two parties, the organization will be slung around out of control, and the mission of the organization is ultimately thwarted. Without a clearly shared mission, the organization will fail. Others lose trust and faith in an organization that does not resolve conflict quickly enough or with grace.

If there is not yet an actionable plan for conflict resolution within the organization, then this needs to be pursued quickly especially if conflict has already risen within the organization.

Have each side write their thoughts and clearly mark the points they wish to make. Both parties should also express their respective vision and mission. Additionally, writing what they believe the other party’s thoughts, points, vision, and mission to be will also help determine differences in better understanding one another. These can be run through mediators of their choosing to help clarify and make cases.

After this is complete, these documents should be given to the organization’s peacekeepers for arbitration. Both of the opposing parties will pick a judge of their choosing, and the two judges will pick a judge of their own mutual choosing, creating a total three-judge panel for arbitration. By having personally selected judges, each side will feel they have been better heard and represented.

With three judges, the collaboration for peaceful and voluntary conflict resolution has more of a chance of success than a single-judge verdict. The final decision of that arbitration should set the agreed agenda moving forward. It may take time to determine the solution(s), but if the organization is to stay intact this is essential.

How we move forward with the conflict is going to help set the standard for the organization’s future responses as almost habitual reflex. If the organization is to carry on with the mission and vision, conflict resolution needs to be a part of the personality traits of each individual as well as the organization overall.

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Joshua D. Glawson

Joshua D. Glawson is a writer, speaker, and guest lecturer on political philosophy and economics. He resides in California.

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