Conflict is a necessary part of the competitive process between and among organizations and individuals, but this is not the generally held view. When a conflict manifests itself/ rises up among individuals in a group, management sees this as a bad thing, and reacts accordingly. It is seen by many as a crisis to be addressed quickly. This view and the approaches taken to address conflict based on this view can create an environment that makes solving the conflict more difficult.
A crisis mentality impedes rather than accelerates the dialogue necessary to breakdown the disagreements that produced the conflict. In an effort to move the parties past the perceived reasons for the conflict/dispute, management often tries to referee the issues, and these types of efforts rarely succeed for the simple reason that one party or the other in the dispute will perceive that management is taking sides. The manager may believe he or she is trying to sort the issues out, but the manner in which the questions are asked of do the opposite. Ms. Sonja Carberry makes a similar point in a recent article in the Investor’s Business Daily. In her article she recommends that, when attempting to unravel the reasons for the conflict, the questions should be presented with a soft touch to avoid being perceived as interrogating the party being questioned.
The reality is that conflicts in the workplace are resolved more successfully when the parties are allowed to work through their differences in an open and honest dialogue that is free from the heavy hand of management. Yet when the conflict does begin to affect the work place environment or the status of the work, the use of an impartial third party to facilitate or mediate the conflict is almost a necessity. A conflict in the workplace that is impacting the work process cannot be resolve by management without coming down on the side of one party or the other, and the only way to address such conflicts in a way that minimizes the negative impact on the work processes is to use a third party mediator.