Monday, December 4, 2017

Essay: Why People Avoid Conflicts

Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Steven Covey

Conflicts occur when people can’t find consensus and disagree over the issues, which have an important meaning for them. As a result, people feel nervous and unkind to each other. Conflicts create tension and disagreement between two persons or group of people. Conflicts disturb us when we have a conflict with someone our emotional and even physical state is unstable. If the conflict is very serious and protracted, we constantly feel bad, and it can cause problems with our health and in some cases even lead to depression or mental disorder. As we can see, conflicts can have serious consequences that can bring harm to both - our opponents and us. So it’s necessary to avoid conflicts and to decide problems in a friendly and calm atmosphere. In a conflictive situation, only one side can be a winner, and the other side is an outsider and, as a rule, both sides are not satisfied with the conflict resolving. Conflicts at the workplace reduce productivity level, cause mental, psychical and physical disorders. Unfortunately, directors and managers of the companies spend too much effort trying to increase productivity level but very often forget that friendly and supportive atmosphere and absence of conflicts can become much more effective than any innovative technologies of production. There are several consequences the conflict can have on an individual. The most common effect caused by the conflict can be the following: not achieving a common aim, winning at all costs, discounting the good aspects of opponent’s point of view, bad state of the “loser” and his demoralization.

Non-conflict behavior is more natural to people and adopting such a policy in the workplace better productivity can be achieved. Decisions taken in a friendly atmosphere are usually more effective and take into account opinions of both sides. The process of resolving conflicts is necessary because it helps to get rid of stress and discomfort. This process assumes encouraging the opponents to come together and to come to the decision by common agreement.

To avoid the conflicts, it’s necessary to know what the conflict is, what its types are and what are the methods to resolve them. There are three types of conflicts, which occur in the workplace. They are: interpersonal conflict (conflict between two or more persons), intragroup conflict (a conflict within a group over concrete goals and methods to achieve them) and intergroup conflict (a conflict between two different groups of people) (Tuckman, 1977, p. 223-245)

The most effective method to resolve an interpersonal conflict in the organization is to calm down, sit and write the positives and the negatives of your opponents. The negatives must be written taking into account only objective facts, not emotions that have caused this conflict. The opponent must do the same. Then opponents share their lists and discuss them and so find compromises and the right solution.

It’s much more difficult to resolve the group-level conflict but if to find the right method it can be rather easy. The two groups create lists that contain thoughts on the other group. Both groups read their thoughts, discuss them in a circle in a calm atmosphere without aggression or offense. Then, together they create plan how to solve common problems (Wheelan, 2003, p.9-427)

Techniques, used for resolving conflicts are not always suitable for different situations. Unfortunately, very often these methods cannot be applied or the can give no result. It’s better not to bring the situation to the conflict and try to avoid conflicts. The most effective method to avoid the conflict inside the organization is to find the consensus.

The consensus refers to the achievement of agreement on this or that issue by both opponents or all members of a group. The process that the group comes through to reach the consensus is called the consensus process. The consensus is based on a principle that both sides have some part of true and none of the parties possess 100% knowing the truth. The second principle is respect for the opponent. It’s necessary to listen to the opponent’s opinion and try to understand him.

To reach consensus, it’s necessary to be patient, articulate, reasonable and has a sense of humor. It’s just humor that often can help to avoid the conflict and both sides must be ready to take some points with a sense of humor. Opponents should try to be objective, and they shouldn’t show their impatience and irritation in any way as it can lead to a conflict immediately. Total objectivity is impossible, but both opponents should remain as neutral in the discussion as possible. Consensus requires a high level of trust between the opponents. Persons must be sure that their opponent wants to find the true decision and so will give true arguments based on facts. Expression “The end justifies the means” isn’t suitable for finding consensus between two people.

To reach the consensus, it’s necessary to follow some rules. First of all, it’s necessary to listen to the opponent’s ideas and try to understand his argumentation. It’s also important to come to the discussion of a problem with the open mind; be ready not to promote your idea but to listen to your opponent. A brief description of your position briefly can also become very useful. Form the other side the person shouldn’t change his or her mind just to reach consensus and avoid conflict (Kreitner, 2004).

Reaching the consensus, both sides get the possibility to take the advantage of all the ideas that were proposed. Single individual thoughts and ideas are rather subjective but when two or more people combine their thoughts, they can find more objective and high-quality decision. “Consensus decisions can be better than vote decisions because voting can actively undermine the decision. People are more likely to implement decisions they accept, and consensus makes acceptance more likely (Estes, 1983).

Of course, there can be some difficulties with consensus. For example, finding a consensus can take a long time if the opinions are opposed or one or two persons in the group may not try to find the right decision and cannot trust their opinion on the group. There are cases during the discussion when a group can dominate single individuals and make them accept the decision. It isn’t a real consensus; it’s called “groupthink.” Groupthink occurs when not all people agree with the decision, they haven’t resolved all the disagreements but under pressure of a group take the decision. In consensus, all the disagreements are resolved, and that’s very important. Openness and common efforts can help to avoid conflicts, reach consensus and find the decision in a friendly atmosphere.

Other ways to avoid conflict
To avoid conflict, it’s necessary to be an attentive listener and to follow tactic to avoid conflictive situations. Of course, it’s impossible not to argue at the workplace at all; it’s normal to have different opinions, it’s just necessary to be tolerant of your opponent. Don’t try to confront every issue. It’s useless, and not every issue is worth confronting.

It’s practically impossible to avoid conflict or to resolve it if the other person doesn’t want to do it. “It takes two to tangle. And two to untangle.” (Kreitner, 2004).

Emotional state is an essential component of conflict resolving. Your emotions come through your opponent, and if you come with anger, another side will immediately notice this and the reaction will be the correspondent. Positive emotions and feelings such as respect, beneficence, and love will do their job. The opponent will be open for you and will be ready to cooperate with yours. What you bring to people is what comes out.

It the conflict can’t be avoided it should be resolve, anyways. All negative emotions disappear with time, and the only thing that is left is a positive result that was achieved. Unresolved conflict gets only worse, the feeling of discomfort haunts both parties of the conflict and has the negative influence on the entire working productivity.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood,” says Steven Covey. This golden rule will help you to avoid a million conflicts in your life. If you are aimed to understand the opponent the opponent will feel it and will try to do the same. It’s much easier to find the correct decision if you can prove arguments for both sides (

We can make a conclusion that person can’t avoid conflict situations in the workplace, but he can reduce them or even minimize. To do it every person must follow certain rules in the discussion. The ability of assertiveness is very important if you want to avoid conflicts. “Assertiveness is the ability to express one’s feelings and assert one’s rights while respecting the feelings and rights of others” (Wheelan, 2003, p.223-245). Assertiveness is a natural ability in a way but its also a skill that can be learned. Assertive communication is based on openness, honesty and, what is important, respect. It takes into account feelings and needs of your opponent.

There are different ways to deal with the conflict. Conflict avoiding and conflict resolution assistance should be the policy of the organization, but not only the subject of concern of certain individuals. There are several ways to reduce too many conflicts or to make their settlement easier inside the organization.

First of all, it’s necessary to minimize the possibility to get stress at the working place. Special consultants must teach people how to deal with conflictive situations and get rid of them. Mediation is also a prevalent policy of dealing with conflict inside the organization.

Different organizations require different approaches to resolving the conflict; the main thing is to make it the policy of the company or the organization.


  1. Estes, Caroline. “Consensus Ingredients” In Context: A Quarterly Journal of Humane Sustainable Culture, Fall, 1983.
  2. Kreitner, R., & Kinicki, A. Organizational behavior (7th ed.) New York: Mc-Graw Hill/Irwin, 2004.
  3. Tuckman, B.W., & Jensen, M.A. “Stages of Small-Group Development Revisited.” Group & Organization Studies,. 2(4), 1977: 419-427.
  4. Wheelan, S.A., Davidson, B., & Tilin, F. “Group Development Across Time: Reality or Illusion?” Small Group Research, 34(2), 2003: 223-245.
  5. “Resolving Conflict is Worth the Effort.” Business Spirit Journal retired from
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