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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Conflict is the beginning of consciousness.

"Conflict can be seen as a gift of energy, in which neither side loses and a new dance is created."
Conflict occurs when individuals or groups are not obtaining what they need or want and are seeking their own self-interest. Sometimes the individual is not aware of the need and unconsciously starts to act out. Other times, the individual is very aware of what he or she wants and actively works at achieving the goal.
While the definition of conflict and our feelings about it tend to be negative, conflict itself does
not need to be negative! How we manage our conflict can sway the outcome, our feelings about the way it was handled, and the people involved conflict.

Conflict management is what we’re doing when we identify and deal with conflict in a reasonable manner.
"Conflict management is a key strategic function of every organization, so it should be an intentional, conscious one-not left to chance."

About conflict:

  • Conflict is inevitable;
  • Conflict develops because we are dealing with people's lives, jobs, children, pride, self-concept, ego and sense of mission or purpose;
  • Early indicators of conflict can be recognized;
  • There are strategies for resolution that are available and DO work;
  • Although inevitable, conflict can be minimized, diverted and/or resolved.

Beginnings of conflict:

  • Poor communication
  • Seeking power
  • Dissatisfaction with management style
  • Weak leadership
  • Lack of openness
  • Change in leadership

Conflict indicators:

  • Body language
  • Disagreements, regardless of issue
  • Withholding bad news
  • Surprises
  • Strong public statements
  • Airing disagreements through media
  • Conflicts in value system
  • Desire for power
  • Increasing lack of respect
  • Open disagreement
  • Lack of candor on budget problems or other sensitive issues
  • Lack of clear goals
  • No discussion of progress, failure relative to goals, failure to evaluate the superintendent fairly, thoroughly or at all.

Conflict is destructive when it:

  • Takes attention away from other important activities
  • Undermines morale or self-concept
  • Polarizes people and groups, reducing cooperation
  • Increases or sharpens difference
  • Leads to irresponsible and harmful behavior, such as fighting, name-calling

Conflict is constructive when it:

  • Results in clarification of important problems and issues
  • Results in solutions to problems
  • Involves people in resolving issues important to them
  • Causes authentic communication
  • Helps release emotion, anxiety, and stress
  • Builds cooperation among people through learning more about each other;
  • joining in resolving the conflict
  • Helps individuals develop understanding and skills

Techniques for avoiding and/or resolving (board-superintendent) conflict:

  • Meet conflict head on
  • Set goals
  • Plan for and communicate frequently
  • Be honest about concerns
  • Agree to disagree - understand healthy disagreement would build better decisions
  • Get individual ego out of management style
  • Let your team create - people will support what they help create
  • Discuss differences in values openly
  • Continually stress the importance of following policy
  • Communicate honestly - avoid playing "gotcha" type games
  • Provide more data and information than is needed
  • Develop a sound management system

Resolving Conflict:

  • Searching for the causes of conflict is essential to be successful in resolving the conflict. Nine possible causes of conflict include:
  • Conflict with self
  • Needs or wants are not being met
  • Values are being tested
  • Perceptions are being questioned
  • Assumptions are being made
  • Knowledge is minimal
  • Expectations are too high/too low
  • Personality, race, or gender differences are present

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