Topic # 1 – Introduction to Conflict, Difficult
Conversations & Negotiation
• Review of syllabus, assignments and expectations
• Lecture #1- What is conflict?, Types of conflict, Is conflict good or bad?
• This Course is built on 3 Frames to understand and practice Conflict Management in Healthy, Productive ways:
(b) Crucial Accountability
Syllabus & Graded Activities
1. Weekly Group Discussions/Learning – 25%
• Students are encouraged to participate in group discussions and share their thoughts, experiences, insights related to the topic under
discussion in class.
• From readings, videos etc.
2. Book Summary I – Have a Nice Conflict – 15%
• Review the main concepts and theories. Include 3 applications for life. Length: 3-5 pages. Due: Sept 22nd
3. Mandela film Review and Quiz – 10%
• Reflecting on the movie, review the key conflicts and difficult conversations that took place and the respective impact.
• Movie – Sept 29th; Review Quiz – Oct 6th
4. Book Summary II – ‘Crucial Accountability’ – 15%
• Review the main concepts and theories. Include 3 applications for life.
Length: 3-5 pages. Due: Oct 20th
5. Journal of Academic Practice – 35%
• Students will maintain a Journal of Academic Practice.
• This Journal will be a collection of insights from, readings, group
discussions, videos, and other material accessed right through the
• The journal must maintain a balance between the theories and
concepts of decision making, and application to one’s life and work.
Length: 1- 2 pages per week.
• Due date: Last date of class (Dec 1st)
What is Conflict?
• What images come to mind when word “conflict” is used?
• Disagreement; argument; clash; conflict of ideas; happens across age, cultures organizations, families
• Typical Responses to Conflict ?
Conflicts Happen When:
1. Expectations are not met
2. What I want in life is different from what others want
3. When other want what I want – scarcity of resources
4. When my sense of self-worth is threatened
Group Discussion – Iceberg Metaphor
• What can we learn from Metaphor of Iceberg?
• How does this relate to understanding one another & to
dealing with conflicts?
• Share highlights with Class
Types of Conflict
1. Information conflicts
2. values conflicts
3. Interest conflicts
4. Relationship conflicts
5. Structural conflicts
6. Intrapersonal conflicts
7. Personality conflicts
1. Information Conflicts – arise when people have different or
insufficient information or disagree over what data is relevant.
• Allowing sufficient time to be heard, in a respectful environment facilitated by a neutral person can allow parties to clear up
2. Values Conflicts – created when people have perceived or actual
incompatible belief systems. Where a person or group tries to
impose its values on others or claims exclusive right to a set of
values, disputes arise.
• While values may be non-negotiable, they can be discussed, and people can learn to live peacefully and coherently alongside each
3. Interest Conflicts – caused by competition over perceived or
actual incompatible needs. Such conflicts may occur over issues of
money, resources, or time. Parties often mistakenly believe that in
order to satisfy their own needs, those of their opponent must be
• A mediator can help identify ways to dovetail interests and create opportunities for mutual gain.
4. Relationship Conflicts – occur when there are misperceptions,
strong negative emotions, or poor communication. One person may
distrust the other and believe that the other person’s actions are
motivated by malice or an intent to harm the other.
• Relationship conflicts may be addressed by allowing each person uninterrupted time to talk through the issues and respond to the
other person’s concerns.
5. Structural Conflicts – caused by oppressive behaviors exerted on
others. Limited resources or opportunity as well as organization
structures often promote conflict behavior.
The parties may well benefit from mediation since the forum will
help neutralize the power imbalance.
6. Intrapersonal Conflict – refers to an internal crisis that happens
within an individual and may be caused by frustrations.
• Intrapersonal conflict can lead to depression, insecurity, abandonment of goals and inability to socialize correctly.
• Intrapersonal conflict represents the antagonism of intrapersonal intelligence.
Causes of intrapersonal conflicts • Intrapersonal conflicts are generally caused by the clash between what a person wants and reality.
• Lack of emotional intelligence, incapable of knowing oneself, unable to correctly interpret failures or mishaps.
• Improper self-analysis, poor self-esteem, lack of clarity about personal values, indecisive – from the simplest to the most crucial decisions
Signs of Intrapersonal Conflict: • Low self-esteem
• Inability to perform an introspection to correct unfavourbale behaviors & actions.
• Unable to calm down in stressful situations.
• Unaware of limitations.
• Unable to align oneself in the present, in the here and now.
• Unable to understand oneself and others and therefore difficulty in working with others.
7. Personality Conflicts – caused by clash of different personalities
Dominant, Influential, Impulsive, Conscientious(detailed, methodical
• Will be dealt with in detail later in course.
Responses to Conflict
Role of Mediator?
• Regardless of the cause of conflict, an experienced mediator can help parties shift their focus from fighting to resolution.
• Since they are necessarily unbiased, neutrals create an environment where parties can trust the process and work toward a solution.
Conflict – Good or Bad?
• Conflict, while often avoided, is not necessarily bad.
• In fact, conflict can be good because, if properly handled, it encourages open-mindedness and helps avoid the tendency toward
group think that many organizations fall prey to.
• The key is learning how to manage conflict effectively so that it can serve as a catalyst, rather than a hindrance, to organizational
The Good Side of Conflict
1. Conflict Encourages New Thinking
• Although it is often assumed that people avoid conflict, many people actually enjoy conflict to a certain degree because it can be
the stimulus for new thinking.
• Considering a different point of view – which in certain cases represents conflict – can open up new possibilities and help to
generate new ideas that might otherwise have not been
2. Conflict Raises Questions
• Organizational conflict usually leads to a series of questions for those on both sides of any issues.
• Those questions can lead to new ideas and breakthroughs in thinking that can benefit individuals, departments and organizations.
• When there is no conflict, nothing changes. There is no need to question or challenge the status quo.
• Conflict represents an opportunity to reconsider, which can lead to breakthrough thinking.
3. Conflict Builds Relationships
• Being agreeable is nice, but encouraging conflict can actually strengthen relationships.
• Organizational conflict between individuals, departments and even competitors can help to build relationships through mutual understanding and respect.
• Learning to listen and listening to learn leads to insights valued by both sides in any conflict situation.
• Leaders who sincerely value the opinions and ideas of their subordinates are not only more effective leaders, they are also considered more valuable by their employees.
4 Conflict Opens Minds
• Organizations that teach employees how to manage conflict effectively create a climate of innovation that encourages creative
thinking and opens minds to new, previously unexplored, possibilities.
• Considering the possibility for new ways of approaching challenges, result in improvements that benefit staff as well as the
5 Conflicts Beats Stagnation
• Organizations that avoid conflict avoid change.
• Avoiding change is futile and can lead to the demise of even successful organizations.
• Companies that encourage staff to approach conflict in positive and productive ways, can beat stagnation, & open doors to
Highlights from Book……
• The book is set up to show the reader, how to:
• Resolve…… Conflict
Relationship Awareness Theory
Founded on 4 premises:
1. Behavior is driven by motivation to achieve self worth
2. Motivation changes in conflict
3. Strengths when overdone or misapplied, can be perceived as
4. Personal filters influence perceptions of self & others
RAT looks at how we maintain relationships in order to have
positive sense of ourselves and our value as a person
5 Big Ideas from Book
In-Class Activity – Strengths & Weaknesses
1. Reflect on the things that strengthen your self worth, motivate
you, or you value (peace, busyness, high achiever, athletic etc.)
2. Write down your strengths on a piece of paper. See list on next
slide for examples
In-Class Activity – Strengths & Weaknesses
1. Choose one of your strengths from list
2. When has this strength been a positive driver for you?
3. How has this strength helped other people
4. Can you think of a time when this strength became a weakness?
5. How did this strength hurt/affect other people?
Video – Interview with Dr Michael Patterson
• Author of Have a Nice Conflict
• Watch video
• Share one insight in your groups
• Assignments for next class:
• Have a Nice Conflict by Scudder, Patterson & Mitchell (Intro & Chapters 1-5)