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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Analysis of ‘Resolving Conflicts at Work’

Conflict in places of work is evident at almost every place of work and in every organization or company that has employees and is on the growth path. Conflict, been a real or simply a thought out opposition of wants, needs, values or interests is manifested in various ways and departments within the organization. It is multifaceted and diverse. Companies have different ways of dealing with conflict or minimizing the impact of it in the operations of the company. In this paper I will look at and analyze a book: Resolving Conflicts at Work, by Goldsmith and Cloke (2000). The book suggests ways of minimizing the impact of interpersonal, organizational and technological conflicts. The writer notes that it is important for a person to look at one self and try and fit in the social setting of the workplace while accommodating behaviors, ideals and personal opinion of others. I will also look at what conflicts I indentify and do not indentify with and the ways I could deal with them and the suggestion I would give to others faced by similar types of conflicts.

The main focus of Goldsmith and Cloke (2000) is to help people to indentify the areas of conflict that are within self in their pursuit for success. They say that conflict is what a person can be able to see in the back of their minds eye when they imagine looking deep into the underneath surface. What I unveil is the conflict beneath me that makes me be remote controlled by them. If I unveil such things as family misdeeds, past heartbreaks or I unveil a hidden treasure within myself, it will define the path that I take and the association that I develop with people everywhere especially the workplace where I am bound to spend most of my time. The author believes that in every conflict there is hidden agenda. This is termed the ‘iceberg of conflict’ and the author suggests that I take a look at every stage that contributes to the current conflict.
According to Goldsmith and Cloke (2000), it is important for me to understand the culture around which I find myself in when involved or met by a certain conflict. They continue to suggest that I should be aware of the manner in which to deal with conflict in the different situations that it might occur. The way I deal with a particular conflict in a Muslim country is not the same way I deal with it in a Christian country. Or it is not possible to deal with old and young people at the same time due to the generational gap. Therefore the authors encourage people to come up with ways of handling unique situations in a unique way. They note that if I do that people are bound to respond in a similar manner. I am also advised by the author to be an opportunist in a conflict situation and to take advantage of it. This is to ensure that I maximally benefit from the conflict.
The authors place great emphasis on communication skills and how they affect positively or negatively the impact of conflict. Poor communication they note, can affect the way I handle a particular conflict and has the capacity to deteriorate the conflict situation while good communication skills can serve as healing to a conflict. Poor communication can also be the primary source of conflict especially within the organization. Therefore the authors encourage me to focus on improving communication techniques such as good listening and instantaneous feedback. They also encourage me to follow the right channels of communication and to make sure it systematically flows. Such techniques as emphasizing instructions, validating claims and reframing statements are encouraged by the authors as ways I could use to foster my communication skills (Goldsmith and Cloke, 2000).
Emotions are a source of conflict if they are concealed and released in a manner that negatively affects association with others. The authors strongly advise me to look deep inside me for those emotions and talk about them to people and this will effectively remove them from my mind. Concealed emotions, the authors note, serve to harm the need for good and effective communication and I should learn to deal with it. I should learn to manage anger and other such emotions.
I am further advised to look at what is important and separate them from the unimportant in the resolution of a conflict. They note that a conflict is always muddled by an unimportant part of it that if tackled, the conflict is resolved. The past may be affecting the present or an option affecting a choice. The latter hinders the operation of the former and hence a conflict arises. This should be my area of focus and the base from which I handle the situation. There are bad behaviors that I am bound to encounter when in my resolution of conflict. This am advised by the authors should serve the purpose of fine-tuning my behavior. This will include perseverance and patience and person to person empathy.
Technological advancement and the dangers in our social and individual lives is main focus of Goldsmith and Cloke’s book. It analyzes the benefits and the pitfalls that have brought conflict in the society due to penetration of technology to almost, if not all, aspects of human life. It is a speculative book that looks at the reasons people are becoming uneasy day by day with a unique focus on the Americans and the reasons that may be causing this malaise. Goldsmith and Goldsmith and Cloke argues that technologies and high intellect marketing coupled with instantaneous marketing has greatly cut costs for end user of a product. It has also increased consumer taste and preferences. On the other hand, according to Goldsmith and Cloke it has increased the level of the insatiable nature of individuals to a new high. This has played havoc in companies and almost every part of human life causing some form of frenzy and hurriedness in life. Governments have also been affected in the seemingly fast moving world where they have to contend with the speed that is there. This is a reflection of how there is conflict between technology and the human beings.
The highest paying jobs also are very demanding and they demand so much attention and great creativity. According to Goldsmith and Cloke, who quit job as cabinet secretary after realizing his job had occupied too much of his private time, leaving such a job is viewed by many as a weakness and public trust betrayal. Therefore there seems to be a conflict of personal and public interest and a choice has to be made. This call for a human being to choose the best path and follow what might not be detrimental as Goldsmith and Cloke did.
There is greediness for high paying and socially highly regarded jobs. All this is to satisfy a hunger for money and wealth according to Goldsmith and Cloke. This makes people to neglect or to gladly outsource for services they would rather do such as child rearing and house care and sometimes their husbands. In the long run they start complaining they are paying too much in services and it was their mistake in the first lace. I find that there are two conflicting interests in me if that happens. It is my duty to evaluate the best alternative and follow the right path.
 Also Goldsmith and Cloke notably says that companies nowadays need creative and resourceful minds. These employees are not expected to last long in the companies as they seek to get greener and even more lucrative pastures. This is a problem of people conflicting with organizations and they end up being paid less since there is little expectation in the long life of the company. Traditionally high paying jobs have become less fashionable and employees in those dockets are getting lesser and lesser payment because they can easily be replaced. Technology has allowed easy access to education and reduced the rate of employment in some fields. This conflict has resulted in the current situation and companies and multinationals have taken advantage of that loophole to further their interests. This is a big conflict as noted by Goldsmith and Cloke.
Goldsmith and Cloke further notes that there is a personal and social choice for sustainable life and an equally satisfying job that people are bound to make. This is because the traditionally brushed aside luxuries have become necessities in the world and particularly in America. For example it is hard to volunteer today at work so as to have experience at work place because the need to pay bills and to buy necessities such as computers will supersede the moral need to volunteer. Breadwinners are not left behind as they try and work really hard to live on the same level as others. Therefore I note that there is seemingly a conflict between the rich and the poor, where the rich are in constant need to stay at the top and the poor desire the good lives of the rich generating a race towards being the best or reaching for the best.
Relation and Action
The conflicts and the sources of conflict discussed by the authors relate to my day today experiences in a vast way. They are seen in school, workplaces and even in families. In school I meet with people who will always complain that their dad who passed away ten years ago is the source of their failure since he was a drunkard and left nothing for their family at the time of death. This should not be the case and it is paramount that they learn that the death of a person should not be the reason we live in sheer regrets and not accomplish the goals of today.
It is often a common scenario to hear a friend complaining that their boss is too bad because he hinders the development of them upwards in the company. The reason may be an underlying issue of lapses in communication that hinders the relationship between the two and therefore one views the other on a bad picture. It is important for people and organizations to have good communication channels and boundaries to enable effective vertical and horizontal communication and hence growth of the organization and individuals.
The conflicts described in the book relate so much to my life. My family is always working and there is little that comes our way in terms of motherly and fatherly love. This is also evident in the neighborhood I come from and there is no sign of relenting. This is a pointer as to how conflict has emerged between satisfying the needs of the employer, the family and the social needs. Though the family and the social ones supersede the job requirements, people are simply drifting away from their families. I find this wrong and it’s the high time that individuals prioritized their needs and requirements.
Though the world may revolve around the need to have all in life that make it comfortable, it is the responsibility of a person to be able to stand the high moral ground and do what is right for self and the society. This is because it is   a prerogative for the measurement of integrity. Legacy is what I will leave behind and my kids will know me for who I am not what I want to be. Therefore in as much as I struggle to keep them at par with the rest in the social ladder, the company that I offer to them will be most remembered and the issue of social disintegration will not be there.
I find companies and multinationals not doing what is right. They should be made to have a minimum pay for each employee depending on the level of qualification. The government should have policy that guides the remuneration of workers even in the private sector no matter how big the position is. People should learn not to be greedy and stay on one job to make companies attach a tag of remuneration to that job. Public pressure should not be reason I should be made to stay on a particular job. Personal timetable and reason should be the bench mark for me. The embracing of technology has penetrated my life too. It is quite easy to talk to a person at any part of the earth and it is equally easy to obtain a product from whichever angle of the earth. This is quite good although it calls for me and the rest to be careful not to fall in trap of harmful technology that does not have security and harms morally. It is also important to use it to maximum positive benefit.
The author advises I look at the important and unimportant factors in life that affect my conflict resolution genius. When I lost a game at the zonal having thought that I had prepared well, I lost the impetus for practicing in hand ball again. Although this still rings in my head as a reminder that I should practice, the fact that I lost brings me down. I have learnt that I can separate that past failure from my future ambition and be the best. I would also advise people to sift luggage from unnecessary baggage and move on in a progressive manner.
In school and every place including the social ones, culture is evident. People have divergent cultures that shape their belief. I have learnt to accommodate and respect that and not to allow that to be a source of misunderstanding between us. This should be encouraged in an organization which is also a social place with different people. This will foster growth and encourage understanding which is good for the company. In schools it is also good to encourage that and this will define the future peace of the world and families.
Goldsmith and Cloke (2000) view conflict as an item in the society that each person has a mandate to deal with at the individual level by focusing on areas that will help them do that. This will help the person realize individual goals and at the same time foster a culture of growth within self and organizations. In their book they offer practical ways to help me and others to be able to do that. That is the main focus of that book and it helps me to look at experiences in my life that have been associated with conflict within self or between people or organizations and to suggest to people ways to deal with them based on the description offered by the authors.

Cloke, K. & Goldsmith, J. (2000). Resolving Conflicts at Work: A guide for everyone on the job. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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