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Conflict Essay, Research Paper


Conflict is often necessary for reaching deeper levels of dialogue and for bringing to the surface important issues that effect the team and/or school district. The mindset needs to be “resolving conflict” by working through conflict instead of avoiding it, and the term conflict is not necessarily synonymous with the term problem. Many methods for dealing with conflict include avoiding, accommodating, competing, compromising, and collaborating. Considerations of when to apply certain methods for working with conflict are centered around the importance of issues, the preservation of relationships, the existence of resources, the feasibility of the proposals, and the availability of time. Some conflict is best avoided, especially if there is not learning potential with working through it. Conflict that can provide deeper learning should not be avoided, but instead, worked through in a collaborative effort.

The workplace is a complicated place. Imagine a spider web of people, managers, supervisors and staff members who need to work together, interacting in various ways to fulfil the organization’s mandate. Disagreements and conflict are bound to occur; between staff members, between staff and management, and between clients and members of your organization.

As a result of working with thousands of government employees to help them acquire and use defusing hostility skills, we have concluded that a good amount of bad feelings, organizational problems, destructive conflict and inefficiency result from a lack of skill in the WAY that people communicate with each other. This isn’t that surprising if we consider that our society tends to glorify the confrontational, John Wayne type heroes. And, that as children learn language, they tend to learn confrontational, negative language before they learn how to get along with others.

Cooperative communication, or the skills needed to get along in the workplace, or, for that matter, anywhere else, are in relatively short supply, because we simply don’t teach them to children or adults. So we get unnecessary conflict and friction. We get arguments that are more oriented towards winning than solving problems, and we get the so-called personality conflict, a convenient phrase that allows everyone to avoid responsibility for interpersonal problems. We get teams that don’t work well because they lack the skills. We get meetings where the majority of time is wasted because people don’t interact effectively. We get clashes with clients and customers that occur as a result of both parties moving into confrontational ways of interacting.

Conflict Resolution

When attempting to resolve a conflict by ourselves, it may be necessary to establish a set of ground rules. This becomes important between individuals who share vastly different rules for normal engagement. ?Examples include shouting versus quiet speaking, interrupting each other versus one person talking until the statement is completed, monopolizing the conversation versus sharing the floor with one and all.?(Raymond)

Conflict resolution is a highly sought-after skill. Today?s best companies are interested in hiring Development Candidates who have the ability to handle conflict and bring about positive resolutions. Conflicts occur every day in every environment, and it takes truly talented individuals to consistently bring about productive resolutions to these conflicts.

1) Be positive. Rid your vocabulary of negative words. ?When someone disagrees with you or confronts you on an issue, typically the first words out of your mouth are, “No, that is not right,” or “No, that is not how I see it.” (Raymond) Whatever you might say, the typical response is negative. If you want to resolve conflict rather than worsen it, you must make a conscience effort to stop using negative words. ?The first words out of your mouth should be “Yes, I see your point,” or “Yes, I can see how you might have thought that was my understanding of the situation.”(Raymond) Addressing people like this is completely disarming. Immediately the shield comes down and they?re ready to converse with you rather than go to battle. Suddenly you?re engaged in a conversation rather than a conflict of interest.

2) Listen and be respectful. ?Most people are much more interested in being heard than they are in listening during a conflict situation.? (Raymond)Your first reaction is to start talking and defending your point of view, which is the quickest way to rise a conflict and start a verbal battle. The result is no one is listening; no one is being respectful; no one is being productive.

3) Don?t wait, initiate. Be practical. Deal with things head-on. If you and another person do not see eye to eye on an issue, don?t put off resolving your differences. ?Differences in viewpoints do not just go away; they usually will fester.?(Raymond) Seek out resolution immediately.

4) Find a common ground. ?Despite the disagreement, there always are issues you can find on which you agree.?(Raymond) Usually these are big picture issues or values, such as a company philosophy or purpose, morals, honor, equality. Begin the discussion on common ground and your the chances for a positive resolution will dramatically increase.

5) Remember, the business world is about producing results. ?As a leader in the business world, everything you do is directed toward this end. Therefore, in the face of disagreement, do not get mad, get to work!?(Raymond) It?s not good to become personally obsessed with an issue. Look at both sides objectively and proceed with reason and a commitment to a positive end.

A lot of what it takes to bring about positive resolutions we were taught in grade school. Use positive words. Listen and be respectful of others. Be proactive. Find commonalities. Do not lose your temper. ?In a world of high expectations, tough competition and strong egos, much of these practices can very easily get lost.?(Raymond)

Organizational Structure

Basically, organizational culture is the personality of the organization. Culture is comprised of the assumptions, values, norms and tangible signs (artifacts) of organization members and their behaviors. Members of an organization soon come to sense the particular culture of an organization. Culture is one of those terms that’s difficult to express distinctly, but everyone knows it when they sense it.

For example, the culture of a large, for-profit corporation is quite different than that of a hospital which is quite different that that of a university. You can tell the culture of an organization by looking at the arrangement of furniture, what they brag about, what members wear, etc. — similar to what you can use to get a feeling about someone’s personality.

Corporate culture can be looked at as a system. Inputs include feedback from, e.g., society, professions, laws, stories, heroes, values on competition or service, etc. The process is based on our assumptions, values and norms, e.g., our values on money, time, facilities, space and people. Outputs or effects of our culture are, e.g., organizational behaviors, technologies, strategies, image, products, services, appearance, etc.

The concept of culture is particularly important when attempting to manage organization-wide change. Practitioners are coming to realize that, despite the best-laid plans, organizational change must include not only changing structures and processes, but also changing the corporate culture as well.

There’s been a great deal of literature generated over the past decade about the concept of organizational culture — particularly in regard to learning how to change organizational culture. Organizational change efforts are rumored to fail the vast majority of the time. Usually, this failure is credited to lack of understanding about the strong role of culture and the role it plays in organizations. That’s one of the reasons that many strategic planners now place as much emphasis on identifying strategic values as they do mission and vision.

Group Decision Making

Groups Vs. the Individual

?Decision- making groups may be widely used in organizations, but does that imply that group decisions are preferable to those made by an individual alone?? (Robbins pg 240)

Organizational performance is mostly dependent upon the decision making processes that a particular organization uses. In all organizations, decisions must be made on a daily basis. These decisions can be from small to large-scale in size both in terms of the resources involved in making them and the impact that the decisions can have. For example, a small decision would be to determine the type of copy machine to purchase for a company department. This decision involves resources (time and energy) of the users of this machine to understand their needs as well as the purchasing representatives who research and buy the copier. The ability of this copier to meet employees’ needs decides the impact of this decision making process.

An example of a large size decision would be learn and understand what product or service a company’s customer?s need. This decision involves the time and energy of the individuals who research the market for the people, as well as the people who try to successfully develop and start the beginning of the product or service. This decision has the potential to make or break a company depending on the size of the organization.

As the preceding examples illustrate, the decisions and the processes involved in making them are not limited to the individual level. Moreover, the decision-making process is also performed at the group level, and it will be done so with increasing frequency given the need for high performance organizations in a competitive, global market. ?Group decision making is defined as the process of arriving at a judgment based upon the input of multiple individuals? (Lahti).

Since the resources involved in the group decision-making process as well as the impact of these decisions affect organizational performance, we have to make the group decision-making process as efficient and effective as possible. Utilizing a decision-making model is a systematic way of establishing group decision making competence. This statement is not intended to mean that the use of a group decision-making model is a solution for group and organizational processes. This statement is just intended to mean that a group decision-making model when used appropriately can help in the functioning of the group and the organization.

In order to determine the correct use of a group decision-making model, I should discuss the advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of using a model is that it helps to make it more understandable to the person. A model assists in identifying the functioning of a group. It lends structure to a procedure that is original and conceptual. By lending structure, it facilitates the identification and resolution of problems that can arise during the course and as a consequence of the decision-making process. This facilitation, in turn, can assist in improving the group decision-making process.

The potential disadvantage or pitfall to be aware of when using a model is that of being trapped or unable to get out of it. Using one particular model should not rule out the consideration of other models or other way of assessing group decision making. If a model is strictly adhered to without being open to other possible ideas, important information may be missed due to deliberate disregard or misclassification of the information. Therefore, this limitation should be kept in mind in utilizing a group decision-making model. There are many types of models regarding group decision making. So, it is not reasonably possible to discuss every type.

Understanding Work Teams

Work Group:

?A group that interactions primarily to share information and to make decisions to help each group member perform within his or her area of responsibility. (Robbins 258)?

Work Team:

?A group whose individual efforts result in a performance that is greater than the sum of the individual inputs.?(Robbins 258)

Each member of a group adds more information, perspective, experience and competencies (Gmelch, 1984). Organizations such as Delta Sigma Pi are able to learn more effectively as well as retain gained knowledge. If each member participates in problem solving, the potential ways a problem can be solved is increased.

We also feel better about decisions they make ourselves, and are more likely to stick to the implementations that they have created for ourselves, as opposed to those forced upon us. Also, there is a reduction in communication difficulties and in supervision needs if the same group of people implements the solution or idea that solved it. It is also more cost effective to have teams, while keeping hold of high quality. It has been shown that job productivity, safety, absenteeism, employee attitude and cost quality when teams are implemented. There are also many other advantages to having teams that are not listed above.

Stress Management

Stress is the “wear and tear” our bodies experience as we adjust to our continually changing environment; it has physical and emotional effects on us and can create positive or negative feelings. As a positive influence, stress can help compel us to action; it can result in a new awareness and an exciting new perspective. As a negative influence, it can result in feelings of distrust, rejection, anger, and depression, which in turn can lead to health problems such as headaches, upset stomach, rashes, insomnia, ulcers, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. With the death of a loved one, the birth of a child, a job promotion, or a new relationship, we experience stress as we readjust our lives. In so adjusting to different circumstances, stress will help or hinder us depending on how we react to it.

In the long run, however, it is better to learn how to avoid getting stressed out in the first place. So how do you do that? Well, the clue is in the visualization method. Thinking peaceful thoughts makes you feel relaxed.

In imagining a peaceful place, you have also distracted yourself from whatever thoughts you were having before. This points out the basic premise of cognitive/behavioral psychology, that our feelings and behaviors are largely caused by our own thoughts. This is oversimplified, because there are many feedback loops that make the connection between thoughts, feelings and behaviors sort of like a chicken and egg problem. But the simple version of the cognitive theory is that peaceful thoughts cause relaxation and stressful thoughts cause stress.

In other words, the reason we get stressed out is not what is happening to us and not what happened in the past (at least not directly), but rather, how we are thinking about what is happening. Past experience does influence us strongly, but the medium of that influence is beliefs or thoughts.

For example, if you were abused as a child, you might have developed the belief that you are worthless. It is this belief today that is making you feel depressed, not the fact of the abuse itself. This is a really neat, powerful idea because it means we can overcome the bad experiences of the past. It means we have power over ourselves, so we don’t have to be victims of the past or of present circumstances!

The best way to manage stress is to learn to change anxiety to concern. Concern means you are motivated to take care of real problems in your life, but your danger alarm system is not erroneously activated. Changing your feelings is largely a matter of learning to identify and change the upsetting thoughts that are the immediate and proximate cause of upset emotions. To learn more about these techniques, check out these:


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