The term conflict may make us think of a negative situation. However, this usually occurs naturally in many of the stages of our lives, and it will depend on our positive or negative attitude to solve it or stagnate in it without looking for a solution indefinitely.
It is normal that certain situations may arise that cause us tension because we all have different ways of thinking, but conflict in the workplace can be a positive and even healthy experience for everyone, because seen in this way, it can bring solutions around discussions, provide friendly competition and innovate with changes.
- A conflict is a situation that occurs where there are different ways of thinking and acting. One of the parties perceives the other as opposing or negatively affecting its interests.
- Organizational mediation is a conflict transformation procedure in which a third party helps to reach a mutually acceptable solution.
- People can use different strategies to address the situation and deal with it.
What should you know about conflict management in a business meeting?
In this article we seek to answer the different questions you may have about the aspects concerning conflict management in a work meeting: concept, advantages, its importance, strategies, etc. We hope that this guide can answer the main concerns that may arise.
What is a conflict in a business meeting?
A conflict is a situation that occurs when there are different ways of thinking and acting, as well as ideas, feelings, attitudes, which cause displeasure and bad relationships (3). In this type of problem, one of the parties perceives that the other party opposes or negatively affects its interests (5).
In the workplace, conflict prevents the simultaneous achievement of objectives, since two or more parties are unable to reach agreement (3). There are people who manage conflicts by wanting to impose their will for various reasons, and do not accept that their opinions are contrary.
What causes conflict in a work meeting?
Conflict in the workplace can cause low morale among workers. If you try to understand why this type of situation is generated, you can achieve empathy with those who are going through this and mediate, avoiding or minimizing the conflict. These are some of the causes of conflict at work:
Lack of trust
Each team member should be trusted to have good intentions for each other. In this context, the feeling that one does not need to be overly cautious or apprehensive with co-workers could be generated (4).
Fear of conflict
Fear of conflict should be encouraged. Work groups should confront those areas of disagreement, where they should point them out and force themselves to work on them, remembering what is good, useful and necessary (4).
Lack of commitment
Teams work effectively when all members support each other and are committed to the objectives. Without commitment, efforts dissipate, the work is not teamwork, and members tend to focus on individual goals (4).
When team members are not comfortable supporting each other and pointing out problems or deficiencies, the team cannot make progress. One person in the group may be unaware of a problem and need feedback from others. Properly directed and expressed peer pressure is a source of support and encouragement (4).
Failure to focus on objectives
By not focusing on the objective, leadership will be unclear and people will be unsure of their roles or responsibilities (7). Team members will not have sufficient capacity to define and cope with the task and will therefore feel frustrated (8). To improve performance, members need to publicly commit to achieving the team’s goals (4).
Some employees have strong beliefs, which they are unwilling to compromise. These beliefs may conflict with co-workers (5).
Team participants want to impose their individual proposal, managing not to agree, not taking sides and not contributing input(8). The employee becomes so focused on achieving his or her own objectives that he or she does not take into account how it affects his or her colleagues or the company itself (5).
One employee may have a reserved personality, while another may be more outgoing and outgoing. Problems arise when the two do not understand or respect each other’s inner nature and clash (5).
Poor communication leads to misunderstandings and conflict among employees. Passing on incorrect information can result in projects that are performed incorrectly and blame employees mutually for the end result (5).
If the employee has problems outside the workplace, it is possible that he may be cutting to his coworkers. You should leave these out of your work area (5).
Previous negative relationships
It is common for the different members of a work team to know each other prior to the formation of the team and for some of them to have had different access to resources, power and influence. This implies the existence of old resentments, work demotivation and discredit at the moment of getting involved in it (5).
What are the stages of a conflict in a work meeting?
We know that a labor conflict is the dispute of right of interest that arises between employers and employees(8). The process of this type of conflict can be evidenced in five stages, which we mention and explain below (5):
- Opposition or potential incompatibility: Conflict-generating conditions such as communication, structure and personal variables are evidenced.
- Cognition and personalization: One or more parties have knowledge of the existence of conditions that create opportunities for conflict to arise.
- Intentions: When people’s emotions intervene in personal perceptions of the conflict, it is evidenced by them taking a position that supports one of the parties.
- Behavior: When the conflict is openly declared, it is observed that people exhibit various types of behaviors and may include statements, actions, and reactions carried out by both parties to the conflict.
- Results: They can be negative or positive; among them we have constructive criticism, stimulation of creativity, innovation, among others.
What are the advantages of preventing conflicts in work meetings?
It is true that the word “conflict” can have a negative connotation. However, there are times in the workplace when disagreements can be considered healthy and beneficial.
The following table lists some of the advantages of conflict in the workplace. We will also mention some disadvantages. It all depends on how the work group responds, positively or negatively, to conflict (5, 6):
- Stimulates interest and curiosity
- Establishes one’s own personal and group identity
- Facilitates communication among participants
- Acknowledges legitimacy and honesty in finding answers
- Leads to trust and a friendly attitude
- Concrete goals can be achieved
- Promotes group cohesion and integration
- Acts as a unifying element
- Encourages creativity in finding a solution
- Encourages in-depth investigation of problems
- Alerts to the need for improved procedural guidelines
- Shows the commitment and passion of workers
- Communication is reduced and becomes more insecure
- Solution is a matter of strength only
- Parties increase the power differential in their favor
- Misjudgments are made based on false perceptions
- Unleashes degrees of aggression and disrespect between the parties involved
- Time is wasted in achieving goals and money is wasted
- Feelings of stress, anguish, or tension arise due to the threat posed by the conflict
- Great disintegrative potential
- Creation of unstable balances
- Coexistence of incompatible values
- It is experienced as negative
- Decreases commitment
- Decreases productivity
- High absenteeism
- Meetings without clear objectives.
What types of conflicts arise in a work meeting?
A great number of situations or processes in the work area can be labeled as conflictive; this makes us think that there are classifications of the term conflict and the criteria used to classify them.
There is a general classification for the term conflict that can be applied in the work environment, which is divided into three groups (3):
- Interpersonal conflict: In the work environment it could occur between two co-workers such as a supervisor and a subordinate.
- Individual-group conflict: Occurs when the needs of the individual are different from the goals, objectives, or norms of the group.
- Group-group conflict: Occurs annually. Departments fight over budget and space allocations.
Let us consider in the following comparative table a classification of some of the types of conflict, in terms of their content, nature, and level at which they occur (5):
|Conflict according to its scope or effects||Conflict according to its content||Conflict according to its nature|
|Relationship conflict that does not alter the:|
Distribution of resources.
|Relationship conflict between people due to:|
Scarce or false communication.
Repetitive negative behaviors.
Exists objectively and is perceived accurately.
|Affects: Fluency. Relational effectiveness.||Information conflicts due to:|
Lack of information and it is usually false.
Different interpretation of the information.
Certain structuring of elements or circumstances.
|Strategic conflict. Its objective is:|
Forcing the organization to redistribute authority, resources or functional responsibilities.
|Conflicts of interest due to:|
Substantial needs (money and time).
Procedure when resolving the dispute.
Error in the identification of the disputant and in the identification of the dispute
Why is it important to resolve conflicts in work meetings?
It is important to resolve a dispute in a work environment as soon as possible, as this helps the parties to work towards clear and precise objectives. In this way, the work environment is kept in balance and harmony, while everyone works consecutively to achieve the organization’s goals.
Similarly, there are other reasons why it is important to quickly resolve conflict at work, and these are mentioned below (7):
- It strengthens interpersonal relationships.
- It helps to achieve goals.
- Contributes to team morale.
- Significantly reduces stress.
- Gives a new vision.
- Can achieve employee retention.
- Supports in saving money.
What is organizational mediation and what is the role of the mediator in labor conflict?
Organizational mediation is a conflict transformation procedure, in which a third person, a professional in conflict management, impartial to the parties and the issue, helps them to reach a mutually acceptable solution (5).
The mediator must be an observer. It is fundamental to know the dynamics of a group and its phenomena, being this what allows us to capture the group process in the here and now (1). Among other qualities that the mediator must possess are the following (5):
- To be absolutely impartial.
- To inspire respect and trust.
- To be able to understand people’s motivations.
- To be a truly active listener.
- To be flexible.
- Know how to be a leader in order to stimulate others.
- Must have adequate training in conflict management and mediation.
10 strategies for resolving a conflict in a work meeting
It is important to solve a labor conflict as soon as possible, a private meeting can be arranged with one, two or more people to give priority to this type of problem and its resolution. People can use different methods of conflict resolution to address the situation and deal with it. Similarly, there are some strategies that can help in resolving this type of situation (7):
1. Use personal statements
This approach helps people in conflict to talk objectively about the situation. They minimize the possibility of making assumptions about the other party’s feelings or motivations, and the person concentrates on focusing on his or her experience of the conflict.
2. Make room for the other party’s voice
Conflict resolution only works when both parties can express themselves. Asking the other party to explain their side of the conflict and their feelings about it can help you feel validated and understand their point of view.
3. Use active listening techniques
This practice gets a person involved with what someone is saying and makes sure their message has been understood. It also shows the person you are talking to that you are listening and trying to connect with what they are saying.
4. Regulate your emotions
Staying calm can help you think and communicate rationally, as well as act like a true professional during conflict resolution.A positive attitude can move conflict resolution conversations forward.
5. Practice empathy
Trying to understand the emotions of the people you are in conflict with can help the tension between them dissipate. Developing an understanding of others’ feelings can help both of you feel motivated to find a peaceful resolution.
6. Communication should be clear and open
Communicating clearly and openly helps the other party understand your point of view and concerns; when the other party or a mediator understands, they can suggest a mutually acceptable solution.
7. Be assertive
This approach helps one person and the other party find a solution together that suits everyone, and where they can assertively express their views, needs and expectations.
8. Stay focused
Try to stay focused on the issue itself, rather than the people involved and their personalities. Depersonalizing the problem can help you focus your energy on the more urgent and solvable problems.
9. Apologize when necessary
Taking responsibility for this type of situation helps the other person know that you understand your impact on the situation. It can also help them trust that you can act differently in the future.
10. Be patient
Resolving conflicts can take time. Being patient can help you stay motivated to find an effective solution.
Conflict lived in a healthy way in the workplace can lead to improved problems and possible agreements. In this way, there will be a positive culture around conflict resolution, and the team can become more productive.
We hope this article has helped you understand the most important aspects of conflict management in work meetings.
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