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5 Stages of Organizational Conflict and Workplace Conflict Resolution

There will be conflicts nearly everywhere, and there’s no way you’re going to avoid conflicts in a world where the population is rapidly growing. 

5 Stages of Conflict and Workplace Conflict Resolution

And because you can’t avoid conflicts, you must be prepared to learn how you’ll resolve them when they occur. 

The best way to resolve conflicts is to know the stages of disputes, usually five—the latent, perceived, felt, manifest, and aftermath stages. 

We’ll discuss all these conflict resolution stages, but first, let’s look at some workplace conflict types, shall we? 

Types of Workplace Conflict

1. Task-Based Conflicts

This type of conflict arises when employees in a project network must coordinate for each network member to complete their work. For example, a finance officer will not pay the suppliers without the procurement department’s approval. 

The solution to this type of conflict is to delegate work effectively. Make your team aware of the importance of responsibility and accountability. Furthermore, let everyone know their roles so that you end up on the same page before deadlines are due. 

2. Leadership Conflicts

Every leader has their way of leading other employees, and usually, not all employees will love a specific leadership style. While other leaders are warm and inviting, others will be bold and charismatic. Likewise, others will be strict, while others are hands-off. 

The solution to this kind of workplace conflict is to emphasize mutual respect among all the employees, regardless of their positions in the company. Also, leaders need to be aware of their leadership styles and monitor to see if they’re offending any employees. 

3. Work Style Conflicts

Did you know that there are work styles just as there are leadership styles? Other employees will prefer if they worked on their own, while others love working in groups. Likewise, others will need no guidance to complete a task, while others need step-by-step guidance. 

Like in the leadership styles, you’ll also need to define mutual respect and understanding in all employees. All employees must be accommodating and never be rigid about how they should perform a duty. Above all, all employees must be willing to accommodate the differences resulting from the differences in work styles. 

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4. Personality-based Conflicts

We’re all different—from our personalities to how we carry out our duties. That said, the chances are that we will never get along with everyone we come across, and it’s never going to be easy working with people whose personalities aren’t pleasing at all. Please note that how you perceive someone is not actually what they are. Don’t let what you have seen in someone define them. Have a mutual understanding and empathy towards all your employees. 

5 Stages of Conflict and Workplace Conflict Resolution

It’s about your story. For example, imagine a car cutting you off on a highway. The first thing that’ll come to your mind is how the person is rude. Again, try imagining you’re running late for work, and then someone hijacks you in the queue at the bus stop. You’d probably be thinking the person is rude and doesn’t deserve any respect. At least, you need to find out why they’re doing what they are doing before concluding so fast. 

5. Discrimination

Discrimination is one of the most dangerous workplace conflicts, and human intervention must come through as fast as possible. If, for instance, someone is being discriminated against due to their gender, age, ethnicity, or even race, there’s a need for a company to start creating awareness about open-mindedness, understanding, and acceptance within the workplace. 

6. Creative Idea Conflict

While this is a conflict, it can turn out to be a blessing in disguise. When employees have conflicts during idea generation, they can make the worst idea the best one ever. However, it’s essential that every employee recognizes others’ ideas and defends their own so they can be considered. 

If they disagree with each other’s ideas, they could sit down and talk so that both of them can understand the reasoning behind their ideas. Heck, they could even combine the ideas and end up with the best idea. If that doesn’t go as expected, the two parties need to hire a third party to act as a mediator to help them solve the conflict. 

Conflict Resolution Steps for the Workplace

There are major 5 Stages of Organizational Conflict, i.e,

(1) Latent Conflict,

(2) Perceived Conflict,

(3) Felt Conflict,

(4) Manifest Conflict, and

(5) Conflict Aftermath.

1. Latent Stage 

Emergence usually occurs when conflicts build up to a point when an event has to be triggered. The event triggered, depending on how serious it is, will result in an eruption, which could end up fast or last longer. And once a conflict has been realized, it will have to be resolved, or it will escalate until a stalemate is reached. 

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2. Perceived Stage 

Escalation of conflicts will always last longer but could also end fast. However, once conflicts escalate, the two or more parties will always reach a stalemate. A stalemate is when either of the parties feels that they cannot win, and neither of them would wish to lose. 

Stalemates could result for many reasons, first, because of the running out of resources to take the conflict to a higher level, and secondly, due to failed tactics. Furthermore, one or more of the people involved could reduce their support in the conflict. 

3. Felt Stage 

At this stage, either the negotiations haven’t been conducted, or the party understands what’s going on. If you want to learn how to resolve conflicts through negotiation, you’ll have to learn from experienced negotiators. Negotiation skills are essential for people who want to climb the higher ranks of management and help with conflict resolution at the workplace. 

Usually, conflicts will reach a point where neither party seems to be getting whatever fueled the conflict. At this stage, the parties start to welcome proposals in a bid to settle the issue. At this stage, they’ll begin realizing that the costs of continuing the conflicts are becoming more and the benefits to be gained are lower.

4. Manifest Stage 

De-escalation will begin when the fuel has been spent. A conflict can’t run for a long time, so one side will either concede to facilitate a settlement. If neither of the parties is willing to let go of their egos, they’ll continue to fight and suffer. 

In this state, good negotiation skills will help resolve conflicts faster. This is why it’s essential for every leader to have excellent negotiation skills—to help them solve the workplace conflicts that usually arise. 

5. Aftermath 

Once the de-escalation comes to an end, the settlement phase begins where the dominant person calms down the non-dominant party. For this stage to be a success, the parties must be willing to sacrifice so that the conflict doesn’t result in the future. And you must understand that when a conflict is resolved, neither party will be pleased, but at least they’ll not be aggrieved. That said, the most important thing is to see both parties return to working together. 

Once all this has been done, a peace-building process should begin. Conflicts between two people are easier to handle because they’ll do as agreed during the settlement phase. However, conflicts between a group of people can become difficult. A conflict resolution can still be reached with the group if you use intermediaries who could monitor the situation. 

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Other Workplace Conflict Resolution Strategies

1. Calm Down

Conflict resolution will always be easy as long as both parties accept the conflict’s reality. Once both parties have accepted the reality, it’s time to develop a plan to deal with the problem at hand. 

At this point, you also must never let your emotions take control of you. Instead of allowing the conflict to get passive-aggressive, you need to tackle it before it gets far. Settle the matter without yelling or snarking, and remember to listen to all sides of the story. 

Please note that what you experienced during an interaction with another party may not be the same when interacting with the other party. Be open-minded and listen to both sides of the story without concluding too fast. 

2. Communicate Via Active Listening

It’s not just about turn-taking—you also need to listen to what the parties involved have to say. Get your empathy over the line and have a dialogue with the parties. 

5 Stages of Conflict and Workplace Conflict Resolution

Get to a quiet place and ensure that the environment is perfect for both parties to say whatever they have to say. Pay attention to what the parties have to say and ask questions when necessary to understand their point of view. 

Active listening is the real deal when it comes to solving workplace conflicts fast. You need to ensure that you’re giving all the parties time to air their views. 

3. Self-Reflect and Resolve Conflict

Self-reflection is also essential when it comes to resolving conflicts. You may never understand a person until you listen to their point of view. 

Self-reflect on both parties’ stories to help you determine the cause and how better you can help the parties resolve their conflict peacefully. 

That said, you need to focus on where you agree and not where you disagree. We all are human, so be sure always to forgive because everyone makes mistakes. 

Bottom Line 

Conflict resolution at the workplace doesn’t have to be a nightmare anymore. You need to ensure that there’s understanding at your workplace. Try to make your employees aware of the importance of mutual understanding to minimize the chances of conflicts. Also, you need to accept conflicts and find possible ways you can resolve them before they get out of hand. 

About Sonia Kukreja

I am a mother of a lovely kid, and an avid fan technology, computing and management related topics. I hold a degree in MBA from well known management college in India. After completing my post graduation I thought to start a website where I can share management related concepts with rest of the people.