Constructive Conflict

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Assignment 1: Constructive Conflict

One of the major challenges for managing conflict is that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy. The result is that there are a number of different models and strategies that have been developed over the years. Conflict is all around us; while some are constructive, others are destructive. As a leader or a manager, it is up to you to determine when to encourage conflict and when to curb it.

Use resources from professional literature in your research. Professional literature may include the Argosy University online library; relevant textbooks; peer-reviewed journal articles; and websites created by professional organizations, agencies, or institutions (.edu, .org, or .gov).

On the basis of your research and experience, in a minimum of 400 words, respond to the following points:

  • In your own words, describe what is meant by constructive conflict.
  • Identify and describe an example from your personal or professional experience where you were part of constructive conflict.
  • Next, discuss the steps a leader can take to encourage or foster constructive conflict to increase organizational functionality and performance and teamwork.
  • Finally, discuss the importance of a leader’s diligence in managing conflict. What is the likelihood of a constructive conflict or debate devolving to a destructive one? If this happens, what steps can a leader take to deescalate the situation?
  • Offer specific suggestions and support these suggestions with a rationale, research sources, and examples from your experience.

Submission Details:

  • By the due date assigned, post your response to the Discussion Area. Through the end of the module, review and comment on at least two classmates’ responses.
  • You can ask technical questions or respond generally to the overall experience. Be objective, clear, and concise. Always use constructive language, even in criticism, to work toward the goal of positive progress. All comments should be posted to the appropriate topic in this Discussion Area.
Discussion Grading Table Maximum Points
Quality of initial posting, including fulfillment of assignment instructions

16

Quality of responses to classmates

12

Frequency of responses to classmates

4

Reference to supporting readings and other materials

4

Language and grammar

4

Total:

40

Module 3 Overview

Provides the learning outcomes on which the readings and assignments for this module are based.
  • Examine the multiple contexts of those conflicts, and apply methods to diagnose and resolve the conflict.
  • Examine the impact of differential personal styles and values and apply them to the conflict management process.
  • When managing conflict, use approaches that are value based, professional, ethical, and well supported.

Developing a Conflict Resolution Model

In this module, you will learn about different conflict resolution models. You will examine leadership styles and the ways in which they relate to you in terms of your self-assessment findings. From this exploration and research of different conflict resolution strategies, you will develop your own conflict resolution model that you might use in diagnosing and resolving conflicts. Your personal model of conflict resolution can be likened to a road map indicating dangerous curves or open travel lanes.

As an example, imagine you are doing an intensive interview with a management consultant team and you have been asked to talk about yourself in terms of working with highly anxious, driven managers who will be blunt, even abusive, in their discussions. Understanding your own personal conflict management model will provide you a platform for high performance.

Diagnosis as an Individual and a Team

Diagnosis from a medical perspective looks at symptoms, with the doctor then constructing a logical explanation and treatment. In contrast, diagnosis in conflict scenarios is more a matter of explorations based on hunches, intuition, and heuristics.

This process of diagnosis can also be likened to the phenomenological act of framing or bracketing the lived experiences. Much like a window that creates inclusion and exclusion of different visual phenomena, the negotiator or the conflict manager will attempt to identify and include relevant phenomena in his or her descriptive diagnosis, seeking confirmation of the inclusion or exclusion information. For example, what is really going on in this interdepartmental feud and what are the ripple effects?

In one of your assignments this module, the three basic venues of conflict (intrapsychic, interpersonal, and group-to-group) will be explored in terms of three attributes related to context (power, information, and pressure for resolution). The development of definitions and explanations in a matrix having these two dimensions will expand your perspective.

Conflict Competent Leadership

Leadership Style and Use of Self in Conflict

The leadership style is essential to conflict management as it has been the basic reason for the failure of numerous leaders. Developing the wrong approach or style toward resolving conflict can result in a loss of time and valuable resources and other undesirable results. Therefore, leaders have to develop competent styles for managing and resolving conflict. Leaders who have courage are normally somewhat assertive and willing to take risks; however, they are also willing to discuss their ideas while at the same time balancing these ideas with constructive conflict. They are willing to talk with others and not about others as they have concern for the good of the organization. Leaders understand that constructive conflict enhances self-esteem in the parties involved. Basically, there is no one best form of leadership in a given situation as leaders have to adapt their styles to their own requirements of knowledge of self and the context of the situation at the time. Therefore, knowledge of self and the situation at hand will reflect the best approach to prevent escalation of conflicts and enable resolution.

Refer to the Toward a Theory of Managing Organizational Conflict to read an article on leadership style and conflict resolution.

Characteristics of Effective Conflict Managers

Leaders must design a style for resolving conflict if conflict management is to be effective, and a cooperative approach increases the likelihood that the conflict management will be effective. Characteristics of effective conflict managers are integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness. One of the characteristics of effectiveness in conflict is basically a respectful agreement to disagree. A leader usually uses a behavioral style paradigm as a method of managing conflict effectively for the good of the parties and organization. The characteristics of conflict often appear to be the root problem in strategic decision making, even though strategic decisions have a major influence on organizational performance. Therefore, a better understanding of resolving conflict is essential to organizational effectiveness.

Refer to the Leadership vs. Conflict Resolution to access the article by M. Afzalur Rahim.

Diagnosing Differences (in Terms of Positions, Values, and Needs) between Individuals and Groups

Conflict can evolve from numerous factors due to the positions, values, and needs that are a part of the organizational structure. These factors may be recognized through proper diagnosis and evaluation of their effects on conflict development within the organization. A proper diagnosis must occur before conflict resolution can take place. As a result of diagnosing the differences in an organization among individuals and the different groups, management can focus on those activities and attempt to reduce the amount of conflict before it becomes problematic. Since conflict management can influence an individual’s well-being, group performance, and organizational effectiveness, a diagnostic evaluation may reveal whether there are individuals or groups that are benefiting more than the others, which could lead to destructive conflict if it is allowed to continue.

Click here to read an article.

Conflict Communication Strategies

Conflict communication strategies are implemented to attempt to change the patterns of communication between the parties involved by identifying all of the factors that may be contributing to the conflict. Poor listening skills can become an obstacle in trying to resolve conflict. During conflict situations, emotions are running so high that listening for facts becomes a problem. While one person is talking, the other person is often mentally busy formulating dialogue to defend his or her position, and this frequently leads to additional misunderstanding. Using a good communication strategy is important because extensive communication can result in misunderstandings and contradictory elements, which can make the situation more difficult to resolve. You can also have the opposite communication challenge, wherein there is a lack of communication because individuals refuse to talk, and this can lead to additional conflict. Analytical problem solving can be a very effective strategy for developing and enhancing communication between parties.

Conflict Resolution Strategies

Conflict resolution strategies include both identifying the problem and understanding the constraints that might be the root source of the problem. You must participate in dialogue to find an acceptable solution and ensure that the solution coincides with the organizational objectives and culture. There are different strategies and theories that are associated with conflict resolution, such as the Realistic Conflict Theory, Attribution Theory, Field Theory, Social Exchange Theory, Equity Theory, Psychodynamic Theory, Transformational Theory, and Systems Theory. An effective strategy would ensure that the parties understand the importance of resolution—garnering information, trying to identify and agree on the problem, brainstorming for answers, and negotiating a solution. Through this process, a win-win, or constructive, solution may be possible. Conflict management strategies should be designed to enhance organizational learning so it will lead to long-range effectiveness of reducing and managing conflict.


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