Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Working towards collaboration

Today in our Persuasive Communications class we were asked to fill out a questionnaire to determine our personal approaches to conflict. We were not told what the approaches were until we had found our match in order to get a true result. The approaches, by Huczynski and Buchanan (2004), include:

1. Competing/Forcing: Get your own way (my score was 12)
2. Avoiding: Avoid having to deal with conflict (my score was 7)
3. Compromising: Reach an agreement quickly (my score was 9)
4. Accomodating: Don't upset the other person(my score was 10)
5. Collaborating: Solve the problem together (my score was 13)

I am satisfied with my scores because whilst I have a spread across the different approaches, my highest score is in the collaborative method which is seen as the ideal. However this questionnaire only determines where you sit naturally, and does not necessarily mean that I have the ability to determine when an alternative approach is required. If this result is true, I am probably more likely to switch to the competing/forcing approach when things go wrong.

The five mentioned approaches are based on two dimensions - how assertive or unassertive each party is in pursuing its own concerns, and how co-operative or uncooperative each party is in satisfying the concerns of the other. The following graph that illustrates this:

There are other elements to conflcit resolution. It is not just about the approach, it also depends on the type of conflict and the methods being used to resolve it. Three types of dispute resolution are:

1. Interest-based: Attempts to help parties find a resolution that satisfies their needs and interest e.g. mediation during a divorce
2. Rights-based: Attempts to determine which party's position is more valid e.g. legal code
3. Power-based: Each party coerces the other into doing what that party wants e.g. strikes by employees
(Conrad and Scott Poole, 2005)

Conflicts may begin with one of these types of resolution and move on to another. For example, the Royal Mail strikes have shifted between all three types of resolution over many years. If only to be a fly on the wall at the TUC meetings between RM bosses and the CWU and note the conflict styles in play!

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