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Assertiveness and Conflict Management

Role play depicting Submissive, aggressive and assertive communication

Accommodating approach: This approach to conflict resolution indicates high degree of willingness to fulfill others’ needs at your own expense (Nischal, & Bhalla, 2014). One accepts few demands and is interested in making peace. This approach can be well illustrated by a submissive style of communication, in which one neither air his or her concerns firmly nor express needs clearly as shown below:

H.O.D:  You have been complaining about your workload, but at the moment there is no one else to take up the tasks.

Jean: It’s okay, but I wish there was someone else to assist. I guess I will just have to bear it. And, umm, can I ask about my salary and promotion. My salary has never been revised since I was employed.

H.O.D: I will address the issue with the HR, though as far as I know we may not have sufficient funds at the moment to revise salaries. I shall also make sure you are ranked first should there be any other promotion next time.

Jean: That’s fine with me. I shall wait. I don’t want to appear jealous or something. I just wanted to find out.

Competing approach:  Here, an individual is interest in self-win and therefore will do all it takes to ensure that things go their way by taking a firm stand , follow personal ambitions at the expense of others  (Nischal, & Bhalla, 2014). The approach can be illustrated by aggressive style as follows:

Jean: I am really overworked yet I don’t get extra pay for the extra job assigned. Besides, ever since I was employed my salary has not been raised. I will not continue working or doing extra work until you raise my pay!

H.O.D: I understand but kindly exercise patience as I consult with the HR department. I can assure you your issue will be addressed urgently. I will also see to it that your work load is revised. Is that okay?

Jean: That just will not do! I have waited for six years and my pay is still at entry level scale. You need to address this now. I have also been skipped for a promotion consideration yet I have more experience and skills than the two new employees. Where on earth does that happen? You people had better raise my pay and consider me first for a promotion or I quit. Period!

Collaborative Approach: This style meets the needs of all parties involved in a conflict through meaningful cooperation and recognizing the importance of everyone.  It is common with assertive style of communication as seen below:

Jean: I have a few concerns with the department that I am not pleased with. First, I have been having heavier workload yet my pay has remained the same. Again, my scale has been the same for the six years that I have worked for the organization. I must say I find it unfair that with my skills and experience, new employees have been ranked ahead of me for promotion. I find this utterly unethical and unprofessional.

H.O.D: Well, I regret things have been the way they have been, but I shall see to it that you have been considered first in the promotion. Your skills and experience speak for themselves. Besides, you have been one of our hardworking and committed employees. For the raise, I promise to address the matter with the HR manager before the end of the week.

Jean: I shall give you time and kindly address the issue, otherwise I shall have to approach he manager myself. I am not happy with the status quo.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Submissive Approach

Submissive communication is a type of communication which reflects a lack of confidence or uncertainty in what one needs to say or do, resulting into vague or apologetic communication (Martin, & Anderson, 1996). One advantage that Jean would obtain from this style is that she will be able to postpone, hide or avoid conflicts altogether with the H.O.D. According to Martin& Anderson (1996), submissive styles makes one appear vulnerable, and in this regard, Jean will be able to receive pity from the H.O.D, and avoid the risk of causing trouble. However, on the disadvantage side, Jean is unlikely to get what she wants since she has not clearly raised her concerns. She may also continue to be frustrated at her work place since she her situation may not be changed.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Aggressive Communication

According to Martin& Anderson (1996), aggressive style involves expression of ones thoughts or concerns in ways that may be perceived as inappropriate or disrespectful to others and shows control of others. One advantage Jean could derive from this style is that she is likely to be listened to and get exactly what she wants. She will also be able to release her anger and tension and so it will not build up into frustration. Another advantage is that the company is less likely to take advantage of her again since it shows she’s not vulnerable. The disadvantages to her may include being perceived as rude and accused of insubordination. Again, she is likely to provoke the H.O.D which may lead to friction between her and the H.O.D. Another disadvantage is that she may be filled with guilt later on for being so aggressive to her senior.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Assertive Communication

This communication shows that one has respect for his or her feelings and thoughts and those of others as well. It involves being candid and expressing ones thoughts and ideas in a way that shows self-respect but does not offend others (Martin& Anderson, 1996). The advantages to Jean should she adopts this style is that she will be able to state clearly what she wants the department to do for her, and therefore be in a good position to get exactly what she wants. She will also be able to express her feelings without hurting anyone.  In addition, she is unlikely to create enmity with the H.O.D, if anything, the H.O.D may regard her highly. Another advantage is she will feel good about herself since she would have aired her concerns. Tension will therefore not build up in her. The disadvantage with this approach is that there cannot be surety that she will get what she wants from the department.

Q 3

Benefits of submissive approach

According to Martin& Anderson (1996) submissive approach has little or no possibility that one will be harmed since one appears vulnerable. Submissive individuals are also liked by other individuals who often praise them because they are not selfish. Another benefit is that Individuals may at times get what they want because they control other by displaying vulnerability hence obtaining sympathy favors.

Aggressive approach

This approach shows that one is usually in full control of their lives as well as that of other individuals. As postulated by Berryman-Fink & Fink (1996) individuals with aggressive style tend not to be taken advantage of or even harmed since they display no vulnerability. Again, they are likely to be respected by others who may fear them.

Assertive approach

This approach has the ability to build it a stable long term relationships with those that one interacts with since it is a fair approach (Berryman-Fink & Fink, 1996) It also likely to bring one the respect they deserve from others. The approach is also likely to build up the self-esteem of individuals and enable one to achieve goals without necessarily upsetting others (Berryman-Fink & Fink, 1996).

Essay #2

Communication Skills and Conflict Management

Communication is an important tool for organizations and in conduction and facilitation of any kind of business. Communication, which means exchanging information from one point to another, is an unavoidable element in organizations not only because it enables organizations to  efficiently undertake their businesses, but also because it serves the important role of enabling organizations maintain a favorable image internally and externally (Erickson, Lukes & Weber, 2014). Since it involves at least a sender and a receiver, understanding between the two is vital for a healthy communication. Through communication, an organization can either builds or damage its reputation. Organizations also use communication to restore its damaged reputation or image, create trust, and deal with uncertainties (Erickson et al, 2014). While communication is important in organization, it cannot exist without conflicts, and it would be hard to imagine an organization without conflicts (Spaho, 2013). The inevitability of organizational conflict stems from the fact that individuals in an organization have varied thoughts and views, which if not managed well, may result into negative outcomes (Spaho, 2013). Conflict in this case refers to struggles or differences between two opposing sides characterized by different goals, inadequate resources, or interference by one side towards achieving the goal (Arslan, 2013). Since conflicts are natural and inevitable in organizations, they should be properly managed because too much conflict form communication may bring an organization down and its absence may equally be unhealthy to the organization. This is because communication conflicts can help identify and corrects issues hence increase productivity, but at the same time it can stand on the way towards achieving organizations objectives (Spaho, 2013). Conflict management therefore aims not at not merely reducing or doing away with conflicts, but rather at providing some viable solutions to conflicts (Spaho, 2013). Communication theories are also important in organizations and conflict management because they help us understand various communication aspects, for example the way that various individuals communicate, and identification of appropriate communication channels. Understanding of these theories is necessary because they help in understanding various individuals and their communication styles, which in turn helps in adopting various alternatives and approaches when faced with conflict within the organization. The rest of this essay shall discus how I would personally use the seven communications skills such as listening skills to handle the situation presented in the case study basing on communication theories.

Listening Skills

Listening is a critical communication skill and the first step towards managing and resolving conflicts in organizations. Developing this skill is therefore necessary since it enables the listener in a conflict situation to not only understanding others’ viewpoints, feelings and desires but also gaining understanding of the conflict situation (Rane, 2011). For the situation presented in the case study, I will actively listen to both sides of the argument so that I gain a better understanding of the real situation between Jean and the Head of Department (H.O.D). In a conflict situation like that of the one presented, attention is necessary and as such I will pay attention to what each side has to say and  after listening I will paraphrase to be sure that I have  understood what exactly they have said. I will also give each one equal chance to speck, and in may listening to both sides, I will be as impartial as possible and show respect to each sides’ views. As an active listener in the situation, I will also show concern for the emotions of both parties should emotions flare and help them calm down by making them recognize their own thoughts and emotions and be aware of them. Through active and effective listening, I will be able to not only get a better understanding of the nature and cause of the conflict between Jean and the H.O.D, but also come up with appropriate alternatives for the problem’s solution. This is based on the structural and functional theory of communication whereby communication plays a particular function in the society, for example decision making and problem solving. Functional theory in particular emphasizes that communication is prescriptive, stimulates critical thinking and arriving at decisions. Therefore, I will actively listen, with the purpose of understanding to come up with a solution to the conflict in the case.

Emotional Intelligence Skills

In a conflict situation, it is necessary to deal effectively with emotions and not let them get out of hand. At the organizational level, pressure from work, differences between employees and their supervisor or simple misunderstandings can lead to emotional stress and one needs emotional intelligence skills to be able to handle such a situation effectively. Emotional intelligence is the capacity to recognize and control not only ones own emotions, but also the degree to which an individual can accurately perceive other people’s feelings and control them (Lenaghan, Buda & Eisner, 2007). The skill entails monitoring one’s own emotions and distinguishing them and to make sure that the emotions do not guide thinking or reasoning. In the situation of jean and her Head of department I will use emotional intelligence skills to ensure that emotions are not over emphasized. I will recognize the fact that it is okay for jean to feel angry and upset at what is going on in the department since emotional intelligence requires first and foremost acknowledging the feelings of others (Lenaghan et al, 2007). I will also tell them that I understand why they feel the way they do, and ask them to separate emotions from though since emotions clouds and distort thinking. This is because based on cognitive and behavioral theory, which posits that individuals in a communication process interpret and understand situations differently, and this determines how they end up feeling, responding or behaving (Bandura, 2002). Since from the cognitive perspective psychological mechanism such as anger affect communication process and though, I will emphasize that tempers should be kept low. Again this theory postulates that individuals are not merely reactive for its own sake, but can regulate themselves (Bandura, 2002). Therefore, to focus on the issue at hand and to let emotions not take control, I will help the two parties to regulate their emotions, since it is possible. Empathy is vital as well in emotional intelligence and I will put myself in the shoes of both the H.O.D and Jean, so that they feel that I share in their feelings.

Team Facilitation Skills (Group work)

There are some conflicts, such as the one between Jean and the H.O.D that needs many other several people to help in coming up with a solution. While the situation involves two people, various other employees could be having similar concerns as Jean’s, so teams will be necessary. Team facilitation skills entail team building, ability to guide individuals in a group, encourage team participation and maintaining neutrality. As a team facilitator, I will use my team facilitation skills build the necessary team for solving the situations in the case because issues to do with pay and work overload requires participation of for example human resource manager and other line managers. I will then encourage everyone in the team to participate, assign the team responsibilities, for example to find out if there are other employees with similar grievances as Jean’s. As a facilitator, I will also not feed individuals with my ideas or opinions, but rather I will encourage the teams to come up with ideas and then the best ones will quickly be adopted for further discussion. Here I will take advantage of the diffusion of innovation theory, which postulates thatinnovations, which in this case mean new ideas, once generated or discovered, usually spread across a group, in this case a team. One the ideas have diffused or spread among the teams, it becomes adopted, evidenced by a change in behaviors or old ways of doing things. Teams can innovate ideas and therefore, as a facilitator I will encourage generations of ideas by stimulating discussions through asking relevant questions and ask teams to identify their goals and objectives. Once ideas, which are solution to the situation in Jeans organization, have been innovated, they will diffuse or spread in the organization through adoption and therefore, how promotion and work allocation is done in the organization will change since the solutions identifies will spread or diffuse throughout the organization.

Self-awareness Skills

There is a high possibility of succumbing to bias when dealing with a conflict involving two sides, necessitating self-awareness.  This skill enables ones to have a thorough understanding of one self in terms of emotions or feelings, strengths and weaknesses, thoughts, biases, capabilities. The more one is aware of themselves, the more they are able to separates issues and events that may make them biased. Applying this skill therefore, I will ensure that I approach the situation candidly, impartially and not let my biases or emotions affect my perceptions, understanding and interpretation of the situation. This will enable me to respond positively in the situation and involve myself in the conflict without being part of it. I will also encourage Jean and the H.O.D to think about themselves, their motivations, emotions and any issue that may make them not perceive the situation objectively. Using concepts from cognitive and behavioral theory of communication I will, in this case, use communication to eradicate the irrational beliefs that the two parties may have. Since this theory suggest that cognitive and psychological processes affect communication and interpretation of events, through self-awareness I will be able to approach the situation objectively.

Assertiveness Skills

Assertiveness is a necessary skill if one is to be able to, without mincing and without showing disrespect for the other party, state precisely what they want.  It entails being open or candid with ones’ thoughts, ideas or emotions. Assertive skills will be essential in dealing with the case of jean and the H.O.D since this approach is especially useful in case the two parties prove to be difficult to deal with. In this regard, I shall state to the parties clearly and without mincing the need for a solution to be arrived at, and in case one party becomes unrealistic, I will assertively make them realize their errors in the communication process. I will be assertive in this situation with the aim of coming up with a solution. Just like structural and functional perspective postulates that communications serves several functions, in this case I shall use communication to clarify the issues in the case to arrive at a better solution. I will ensure I am clear on what my role is, I will be specific, repeat statements for clarification purposes and above all avoid being aggressive.

Conflict Management Skills

Conflicts are an inevitable part of an organization and therefore the ubiquitous nature of conflicts in organizations necessitates ability to convert such disagreements into opportunities (Weingart, Behfar,  Bendersky, Todorova, & Jehn, 2015). The skills of conflict management requires one to be able to distinguish between the positive and the negative conflicts since some contentions may just lead to bitter feelings, alienation and organizational inefficiencies (Weingart et al, 2015). The skill also requires ability to realize new possibilities, winning the confidence of the conflicting parties and above all suggesting a fair and balanced solution for mutual benefits of the parties involved (Weingart et al, 2015). In the situation of Jean and her supervisor, I will ensure that I impartially listen to both sides, pay attention to the problem at hand and suggest creative solutions. For example, I will try to come up with a solution which neither party losses, a win-win- solution. Jean and the H.O.D belong to the same organization and therefore such disagreements needs resolving without one feeling a loser. For example Jean can agree to extra work, as long as there is an extra pay to match the additional work. As postulated by the functional and structural theory of communication that society is made up of different structures which needs to be in harmony, failure of which leads to a dysfunctional society, the various departments in the organization need to coordinate and maintain a balance in Jean’s organization through proper communication. Such unfairness, like extra workload without extra pay may make the organization dysfunctional.

Leadership Skills

As an organizational leader, dealing with conflicts is inevitable given the ubiquitous nature of conflicts in organizations. A dynamic leader therefore anticipates conflicts, develops strategies in handling the conflicts, and has essential skills in managing and resolving conflicts (Lather, Jain, Jain & Vikas, 2009). A leader should be exemplary, be able to motivate others, clearly define responsibilities for employees, be a good communicator and decision maker, mediator and influencer (Lather et al 2009). Leadership skills entail managing emotions, conflicts, and being able to be assertive. In the situation in the case, as a leader I will use my leadership skills to bring down the tempers of the participants without raising my own temper. I will be cool when handling the situation, focus on the conflict and not the individuals, and be assertive while trying to understand each party’s point of view. I will apply my problem solving skills to amicably resolve the situation at hand.  In a conflict situation, leaders have to be exemplary and in control. Based on the cognitive and behavioral theory of communication, individuals observe the behaviors of others and react or respond accordingly. Again, reward and punishment can be used to direct behavior. By being an exemplary leader, I my approach and language will have to be fair, assertive and credible since these will determine how the parties to the conflict will react or respond.

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