Key skills - making a difference
Key skills - making a difference

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Key skills - making a difference

9.5.2 Establish and maintain co-operative working relationships

Try to organise the work so that each member can benefit from working as part of a team and helpful relationships are maintained. At times you may need to offer support and encouragement, share resources, ask for help and advice yourself, deal with behaviour, which may discriminate against others or disrupt their work, and help to resolve conflict. If you are completely stuck on how to overcome difficulties, try to find someone who can support and help you and the group.

When things are going well, working in a team is stimulating and enjoyable. But working in a team can be a stressful, negative and upsetting experience when things do not go well. As both a team leader and a member of a team, understanding and dealing with conflict can be an important part of the job.

Conflict is related to strong emotions, such as stress, frustration and anger. Managing conflict to your advantage is an important aspect of getting the job done. Because of the inevitably of job conflict, we need to learn effective ways of resolving conflict. Below are a number of techniques for resolving conflict that you can use on your own. Most of them emphasise a win-win philosophy.

  • Confrontation and problem solving – this is a highly recommended way of resolving conflict and involves identifying the true source of conflict and resolving it systematically. The confrontation is gentle and tactful in this approach because the person who takes the initiative wants to maintain a good working relationship.

  • Negotiating and bargaining – use compromise; allow room for negotiation; begin with a plausible demand of offer; focus on interests not positions; make small concessions gradually; use deadlines; make a last and final offer and allow for face saving.

  • Disarm the opposition, perhaps by agreeing to the criticism made of you.

  • Exchange images with the other person; each side states its and the other side's point of view.

  • Allow the other side to simmer down.

  • Take your problem to a higher authority if gentler approaches do not work.

In choosing a technique for resolving conflict, consider both your personality and style and the nature of the situation facing you. The situation includes such factors as the gravity of the conflict and the type of person you are facing.

Time out

Have you had to resolve conflicts in the past? Which techniques have you used and what have you learned? Think about the positive as well as the negative effects of conflict.


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