Wednesday, March 5, 2008


“Be simple and humble like a grass. When a wild storm attacks, all the big trees get uprooted but the simple grass survives. Be simple but powerful”.


The principal of an engineering college recommended the names of two faculty members for the 5 day Workshop on Soft Skills to be conducted by a reputed IT company. In fact, the company asked the institution to recommend three faculty members so that one would be short listed for the Workshop. The principal was compelled to recommend the third faculty member who was highly talented and qualified with two and half a decades of defence experience. All the three faculty members undertook online test conducted by the company and ultimately selected the third faculty and informed the same to him by email to attend the workshop.

Unfortunately, the principal never liked the short listed Faculty because he has filters and reservations with in his mind. He was basically partial, jealous with a negative attitude and approach. He requested the company to remove the short listed faculty so that he could send another inferior faculty who butters the principal. The company asked out of curiosity the reason behind the replacement of the Faculty. The principal replied that the short listed faculty was not good to be trained and incompetent to take up the course. The company vehemently asked, “Why did you recommend his name initially when you know that he was not competent and quickly added that the Faculty secured excellent rank and he was the only deserving candidate to be called for the workshop”. The principal fell into a trap. He found it very hard to defend himself and insisted for replacement of the Faculty. But the company was one of the leading IT companies and obliged the principal although they allowed the talented and short listed faculty to attend the course. It was an avoidable conflict but unfortunately the principal was noted for bossism and sadism and intolerant to accept the talented faculty. But the IT Company was a reputed one always believed in values and allowed both the faculty members to the workshop mainly to take the talented faculty as well as it pleased the adamant and biased principal.

The faculty realized that justice could not be delivered because the situation was like a fence eating the crop. Principal was stopping him to go by instructing the incompetent person to proceed for the workshop. He tried to approach the management who were supportive and fair but unfortunately the key persons were not available to resolve the conflict. The Faculty was bold, upright and forthright and he applied for Loss of Pay for the duration and attended the workshop.

The above case study of a principal who was partial, negative oriented with sadistic streaks. The conflict could have been averted if the Principal was fair and respected the judgment and selection of the company. Secondly things did not work out for the faculty to approach the higher authorities as time was short and the key heads were not available.

"It is not always who is right and who is wrong but what is right and what is wrong".


Conflict is like a battle which takes place between two or more people or groups when nobody is willing to accept from the others’ perspective. It may be due to the clash of interests or ambitions, or egos or due to various other reasons.

India had conflict with Pakistan in 1965 and 1971 due to Kashmir issue and had conflict with China in 1962 due to boundary dispute. Even in Mahabharata the conflict between the Pandavas and Kauravas led to the battle of Kurukshetra.

Conflict in minor cases leads to productive results but in the majority of cases leads to chaos and crisis. In this context, it is desirable to explain about conflict management is a concept is playing a crucial role at the corporate world.


Thomas C.Schelling is known as the Father of the Conflict Management. He played a pivotal role related to this field by authoring the Strategy of Conflict in 1960. He was a Noble laureate.

Conflict Management is the process of handling the grievances or divergent views or opinions which are left unaddressed and unredressed. It is also the process where imaginary perceptions with the realities are aligned and brought together so as to maintain harmonious and peaceful climate.

Now a day there is growing demand at the work place due to the stiff competition at the corporate world. It has become difficult for the employees to reconcile with various tensions resulting into conflicts and contentions. Having understood about conflict management it is relevant to diagnosis the factors and forces behind conflicts.


At times competition results into conflict. When people have similar interests and consider the same as superior or supreme, they will pursue up to the hilt. When two more warring groups or people pursue the same without any let up and with ruthless attitude give rise to conflicts.

When people are faced with frequent failures they get self doubt about their competencies and qualities resulting into frustrations. Such a scenario will sometimes force to any extent to fulfill resulting into conflicts.

People in general have certain aspirations and expectations in their life and if the gap between the same with that of the realities is widened conflicts do occur.

Different cultural backgrounds among the people give rise to different perceptions and if there is no synchronization and coordination, the conflicts take place.

Conflict is also due to the inability to communicate and comprehend in the given situation or scenario. Lack of proper understanding or misunderstandings create conflicts.

Ego clashes and false prestige will enable to think ill of others resulting into badmouthing and conflicts.

Lack of clarity of approach towards the issues and preconceived notions will spell disaster in human relations. Frequent arguments by a few people who want to prove their point without being kind enough. Usually people with inferiority complex resort to too many arguments to get noticed. Because such people are never taken seriously by others as they are incapable.

Inability to empathize with other is one of the causes for conflict. Unable to get into the shoes of others and unable to look at the things from others’ perspective.

When people are not habituated to work in teams then they struggle to get along with the team members as they are not good at group dynamics. Initially for some period the conflicts tend to rise.


The main issues of importance get sidetracked thereby affecting the overall performance. People will not be able to concentrate on regular activities due to the excessive thinking about conflicts. Sometimes it may lead to negative thinking and cultivate the attitude to retaliate. Rise in stress levels and may culminate in getting burning out.

However, in rare cases conflicts can create constructive and creative effects. If there is positive attitude and approach between the both sides the misunderstandings and miscommunication can be minimized. Over all the results of conflicts are counterproductive.


There are three types of resolving the conflicts viz negotiation, mediation and arbitration. In the case of negotiation, the contending and competing parties will come together with their representatives in order to find a viable situation towards the problem. Both the parties select a trustworthy and reliable person to represent the group so as to resolve the conflict. Lot of communication skills are essential to negotiate effectively.

In the case of mediation the warring groups approach a third party who is acceptable to all the affected groups to resolve the conflict. It is a very difficult and complicated process to select an effective and efficient mediator. The mediator calls the contending parties, listens to them actively and attentively and by reasoning and logic he will resolve the conflict keeping justice as supreme.

In the case of arbitration, a person or panel of judges will be appointed who is honest and aboveboard to solve the problem. Whatever the decision taken by the arbitrator should be honored by all the concerned contending parties.


• Never sweep the problems under the rug and never allow the conflict to become a crisis. Try to nip it in the bud before conflict becomes a chaos.
• Always try to empathize with the parties. Get into the shoes and look at the situation from others’ perspective. Such an attitude and approach will resolve most of the conflict.
• Dr.Stephen R.Covey highlighted about emphatic listening in his book, ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’. Patient listening will help get at the root of the conflict rapidly and help in quick resolving of the conflict.
• Never attack the party but rather attack the behaviour of the party thereby depersonalizing the conflicts and making things much easier to resolve.
• Conflict is largely a perceived phenomenon. Active listening helps in taking the things seriously and it helps in understanding the under currents and real hidden issues involved in the conflict. The contending parties often do not disclose the real intentions and the problems. Active listening paves the way for grasping, grilling and grounding the same.
• Always make the negotiation a win-win so that nobody is hurt and humiliated and all are ready to accept the solution. It is a Herculean task but the excellent negotiators are good at making it possible and feasible.
• If the conflict appears to be complicated and big then dissect and diagnose. After analyzing in part wise, then gradually assemble the same as a single entity solution.
• Neither submissive nor dominate communication helps. What helps in resolving the conflicts is the assertive communication.
• Think different and follow unconventional methods to resolve the conflict. The same tool may not be applied in all situations. Each situation calls for separate strategies. Creative techniques, innovative and imaginative approach is essential in resolving the conflicts.
• Take one conflict at a time and face it squarely. And don’t run way from the problems.
• Be sensitive to the situation and look at the conflict from many angles and perspectives for arriving at best solution.


As long as the man is there the conflict is bound to erupt. There are always differences of opinions, views, perceptions, attitudes, aptitudes and approaches. What is essential is the prevention of conflicts by an effective and efficient communication. If the conflicts are not averted it would result into crisis. To sum it up, let us look at the commonalities amongst the people rather than looking at the differences. The common thread running across the people would make the human life peaceful, pleasant and memorable.


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