Conflict and Power
Breakdowns in communication are a leading cause of conflict, and good communication skills are important to effective conflict resolution and negotiations. Whether or not conflict within an organization is viewed as desirable, the fact is that conflict exists and is endemic. As human beings interact in organizations, differing values and situations create tension. When conflict is recognized, acknowledged, and managed in a proper manner, personal and organizational benefits will result. A caring, effective manager uses conflict as an opportunity for growth both for segments of the organization and for the individuals involved. Effective managers use conflict creatively to stimulate personal development, to address apparent problems, to increase critical vigilance and self-appraisal, and to examine conflicting values when making decisions (Rahim, 2001). Conflict management recognizes that while conflict does have associated costs, it can also bring with it great benefits. Even though some managers see conflict as something that should be avoided at all costs, others see conflict as presenting exciting possibilities if managed in a positive, constructive fashion (Darling and Fogliasso, 1999). Today's effective manager seeks not to avoid but to manage conflict within the organization (Rahim, Antonioni, and Psenicka, 2001).
Conflict means there are differences of opinion, and so alternatives need to be considered and opposing points of view studied. When conflict signals these activities, it is often seen as a sign of a very good organization (Hellriegel, Slocum, and Woodman, 1995). If the organization develops the coping skills necessary to survive in its environment, it will change and thrive. Adaptation, accommodation, and flexibility are the keys to organizational survival in such a situation. Conflict can lead to change, change can lead to adaptation, and adaptation can lead to survival and even prosperity (Walton, 1987).