A Collaborative Approach to Conflict:
Working with Others

The Issue:

There are multiple sources of conflict in organizational life:

People are confused or in disagreement regarding their role responsibilities. A person thinks he or she is supposed to do one thing and his or her boss, peers and/or subordinates think he or she is supposed to do something else
People have differing values: One believes in individuality; the other believes in the group.
People come from differing cultures: One believes that diversity is a good thing; another believes that homogeneity builds strong cultures
People have differing agendas: One person's strategy blocks another person's ambitions
People have directional disagreement: One person is convinced that the organization ought to pursue a course of action that another person is sure will result in disaster.
People have stylistic disagreements: One person's way of doing things reminds another person of what it feels like to hear fingernails scratching a blackboard.
People have pressures outside of work that impinge on their emotionality at work. People going through divorce are likely to be irritable and antagonistic. People in grief may not be very responsive to someone else's organizational priorities.

This list could go on.

In other words, interpersonal and inter-group conflict is a given in any organization. The way in which people respond to conflict can vary greatly, however. In the main, people polarize when they disagree; the greater the disagreement, the more acute the polarization.

The Programs

A Collaborative Approach to Conflict draws on a number of proven strategies that help people understand conflict and, therefore, provide them with the tools to respond more effectively and creatively when they are involved in a disagreement with others or when they are trying to help others work through their disagreements with one another. As with many of Art of the Future's offerings, clients can draw upon a range of interventions from workshops to customized consulting services to develop these conflict resolution competencies.

One program, Working with Others, created by Art of the Future's colleague Dr. Grady McGonagill, uses tools such as:

the Myers Briggs Type Inventory to alert people to the fundamental personality distinctions that exist between them
the Belbin Role typology that legitimates the value of many different work styles and orientations to the successful completion of important projects
a range of listening exercises and interpersonal awareness concepts to help people become more effective in their work with others
video taped role plays that give people the opportunity to experiment with different strategies for managing conflict and, by doing so, to internalize their learnings from other aspects of the workshop

This program has been used extensively by one of the world's pre-eminent consulting firms and a range of other public and private sector organizations.

Go deeper with A Collaborative Approach to Conflict: Learning and Using Model II

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