Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Interpersonal Conflict Resolution #EDITED

Conflict happens when two people want different things and neither of them can come to a common agreement to get what they want without the other person’s acknowledgment. Most of the common conflicts in my life probably involve people I am closely connected to, such as friends, family as well as the people I work with. As such, I would like to share a situation that occurred a few months back regarding a misunderstanding between two group members during a group project. 

I was the leader for the engineering group project which comprised of three other members. By nature, all of us were very vocal and expressive in our recommended ideas and sometimes, we potentially get into heated debates during project meet-ups on who’s idea should work the best for sake of our team. During this unfortunate situation, the discussion escalated into a heated conflict between Eileen and Javier.

At that moment, we were gathering in a discussion room and expressing our ideas for a proper design of our locomotive tank system. Javier, as usual, kept giving concepts and thoughts than he usually would during this particular incident. Regarding this topic, my group members and I would be listening and writing down notes he addressed while nodding our heads in agreement on his point. On the other hand, Eileen was acting the complete opposite of us as she felt restless and she kept fidgeting when Javier was speaking. Her gestures indicated to us that she was not interested in the conversation and instead, kept using her phone and was distracted throughout the discussion.

Unfortunately, I noticed Javier was displeased by Eileen’s action as his mannerisms can be seen with utmost displeasure. He gazed deeply at her with a frown on his face that expressed his unhappiness towards Eileen’s rudeness. His tone started to change towards a deep and aggressive voice every time Eileen was distracted with her phone. Eventually, after being patient for quite some time, Javier started to unleash his emotions and confronted Eileen about her actions and focus regarding the discussion. As a leader, I decided to step up and intervene the situation.

In your opinion, what would you do when facing a similar situation while holding a high position? Would you confront your team members neutrally or would you side with a person to remedy the situation?   

(390 words) Edited on 050717


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Hi Alfin,

    The situation you described is certainly tricky indeed. It is quite difficult to placate both parties when they are in conflict especially when both are equally important to you as your teammates. From my perspective, I feel that Eileen may have some problems on her part that might not be apparent to the rest of you. Understandably, Javier as the speaker wants the group to participate actively in the discussion as all inputs from members are important. Naturally, he'll be annoyed with Eileen for being less than attentive. However, Javier's confrontation with Eileen is incorrect.

    From the Thomas-Kilmann's conflict mode instrument, "Competing" is at play here. Assertiveness and uncooperativeness is one of the key factors that Javier displayed towards Eileen (Thomas & Kilmann, 2015). However, what would be a better solution is for Javier to display an "Accomodating" stance towards Eileen by voicing his concerns about her behaviour and trying to solve their differences amicably (Thomas & Kilmann, 2015). This will be a more cooperative way to highlight Eileen's lack of attention towards the project discussion and also hope to discover what she may be preoccupied with. Furthermore, if Javier talks to Eileen on friendlier terms and did not display aggresiveness, the chances of Eileen revealing what is distracting her will be higher.

    Therefore, with a change in stance and attitude, the same results can be accomplished without having to resort to conflict. I feel that this will be the best possible way to approach this situation.

    Ang Ching Hui


    Thomas, K. W., & Kilmann, R. H. (2015, August). An Overview of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI). http://www.kilmanndiagnostics.com/overview-thomas-kilmann-conflict-mode-instrument-tki

    1. Hi Ching Hui,

      Thank you for your taking your time to read and comment in regards to my blogpost! Yes, I do agree on your point on displaying an "accommodating" stance as the conflict can be negated by having a common conversation together. To add on, Javier could have calmed himself down by taking a deep breath instead of feeling frustrated and annoyed.

      I am sure that the conflict can be resolved in a peaceful manner in any situation no matter how big or minute the situation is

  3. Solution:

    A big thank you to everyone for taking the time to read and reply to my blog post in regards to interpersonal conflict resolution.

    As a project leader, by displaying "10 Tips for Resolving Conflict" I applied the use of "avoid behaviors that add fuel to the fire". Criticism and contempt were shown and identified by Javier and Eileen respectively which should be avoided in the first place.

    Therefore, I quickly bring Javier to another discussion room first and calmed him down since he was the one that initiates the conflict. Furthermore, Eileen was quite shocked with the sudden outburst but luckily she managed to control her emotions. I then apply the model "Pause and get grounded" by asking both parties to take a deep breath to calm yourself down first before making irrational decisions or actions that might accidentally hurt one another.

    After a few minutes, I talked to both of them separately and came to a conclusion that the situation itself was a misunderstanding. Eileen was in fact in a rush to visit her sick grandmother in the hospital which causes her to have such actions. She did not mean to disrespect Javier in the first place. Javier heard her side of the story and was remorseful for his actions.

    Both of them sincerely apologize and continued the meeting as quickly as possible to accommodate their own schedule respectively.

    Marter, J. (2013, December 28). 10 Tips for Resolving Conflict. Retrieved July 09, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joyce-marter-/conscious-relationships_b_4504510.html

    Edited on 100717

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. There is fine feedback from Ching Hui and others for your scenario, Alfin, as the approach for conflict resolution from the Thomas-Kilmann framework was referenced. You seem to acknowledge that and give thanks to your other commentators, then you reference Marter's step by step approach. You still have some problems with language use (i.e., verb tense)still, and you don't fully utilize the appropriate in-text citation style or reference list. However, I commend you on providing not just a summary of Marter but also a distillation of her ideas and a synthesis with your own. Indeed, you connect the info by Marter with issues in the problem scenario.

    Thank you for your good effort!

  6. Hi Brad,

    Thank you for your kind feedback. I will make the necessary changes accordingly as what you pointed out. I hope that you enjoyed my reply and post for this blog


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