Darth Vader’s Guide to Interpersonal Conflicts

by Ankit Kumar
3 weeks ago
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Organizational conflict is a state of discord caused by the actual or perceived opposition of needs, values and interests between the people working together. Individuals coming from different cultures can be one of the reasons of this. As a result, they come in engaging in dialogues with each other creating conflicts and making it difficult for individuals to work together. Mr. Amit is facing such problem with the team and the sources of conflicts may be one or more of the following.

  1. Unclear definition of responsibility: The decision is made or the action is taken in the disputed territory.
  2. Limited Resources: Competitions inevitably lead to inter-personal and inter- departmental conflicts.
  3. Conflict of interest: An individual may fight for their personal goals losing sight of organizational goals.

The conflicts consist of 4 types:

Interpersonal conflicts: This type of conflict takes place between the individuals from departments, either from different or the same. These conflicts may be vertical conflicts, The conflict between the manager and the subordinates over behavior, Lateral conflicts, conflicts between two individuals at the same position. Or the Diagonal conflicts, These conflicts arise between people at different positions without any direct superior-subordinate relation.The reason over conflicts may be due to the following issues.

  1. Behavioral Conflicts: This conflict involves someone interferes with the objectives of another person. for example, a co-worker and you may be competing in a sales contest, and he constantly bugs you during your sales calls to trip up your sales pitch. He also throws away message slips from your potential customers that the receptionist leaves when you’re away from your desk.
  2. Cognitive conflicts: This of conflict takes place due to disagreement and disagreement between two departments or individuals. For example, as the vice president of research and development, you may have a disagreement with the vice president of production over the allocation of company resources because you each have different goals and objectives that relate to your particular division.
  3. Affective conflicts: relates to the negative emotional states of the conflicting parties. For example, conflict with a co-worker may make you feel anger, stressed, and frustrated.

Intrapersonal conflicts: These conflicts may take place between two individuals having clashes in thoughts, principles, or ideologies. Individuals having such conflicts often become irritable or erratic. As a result, their professional performance is negatively affected.  For example, an individual with a want to buy an expensive item also suffering from financial problem at the same time may affect his motivations.

Intergroup conflicts: These types of conflicts arise when there are clashes between different groups in an organization. These groups can be either formal or informal. For example, Employees from two different rival companies.

Intragroup conflict: These conflicts arise mainly between people within a group or department. Intragroup conflicts affect the performance of the whole group as a whole. Getting into a fight with a co-worker over personal resentments is a perfect example.


Interpersonal conflict takes place within an individual. According to Robbins, Conflict is a process that begins when one party perceives that another party has negatively affected, or is about to negatively affects, something that the 1st party cares about. Interpersonal conflict is an emotional experience where we feel that our needs, values or sense of identity is being threatened or undermined be the behavior of someone else. It is quite common for us to experience conflict internally, without the other person even knowing they’ve caused it. When interpersonal conflict gets too destructive, calling in a mediator would help to have it resolved. Before joining an organization, individuals try to match their needs with the organization’s offerings in terms of salary packages or other benefits. However, if they observe any inequity with their colleagues in the organization, it may result in a conflict at the individual level. Such a conflict may lead to tension, frustration, and unpleasant behavior in individuals.

There are two important concepts of interpersonal conflicts.

01. Transactional Analysis: In 1960, Dr. Eric Berne developed a model of people and relationship. transactional analysis is a social psychological method for improving communication.  It is based on two notions:

  • We have three ‘ego-states’ in our personality. These states are parent, adult, and child.
  • These states converse with one another in ‘transactions’.

The undermining philosophies in transactional analysis are that:

  • People can change.
  • All of us have a right to be in the world and be accepted.

02. Johari Window:  The word “Johari” is derived from the names of Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, who developed this model in 1955. It refers to a communication model used to improve understanding among individuals.Basically, the Johari window emphasizes the role of self-disclosure and constructive feedback. The main goal of the Johari window is to expand the open area without disclosing information that is too personal in nature. The following two ideas are behind the tool:

  • One can build trust with others by disclosing information about oneself.
  • An individual can learn about himself/herself with the help of feedback from others. This helps the individual come to terms with personal issues.

The Johari Window has 4 quadrants:

Image result for johari window

Source: Successful culture international.

Quadrant 1: The open self or the open area which represents the information that we know about ourselves and others know about us. and that includes – behavior, knowledge, skills, attitudes, and “public” history.

Quadrant 2: The blind self or the blind area represents information that we are not aware of ourselves but others know about us, for example, feelings of inadequacy, incompetence, unworthiness, or rejection.

Quadrant 3: The hidden self or the hidden area represents information that we know about ourselves, but others do not know about us.

Quadrant 4: The unknown self or the unknown area represents information that is unknown by us and others.

The interpersonal conflict is the most common type of conflicts in the organization, and thus its resolution is very important issue. The organization puts a considerable amount of time in its resolution.

There are six generics steps to resolve the interpersonal conflicts.

  1. Defining the problem in terms of need.
  2. Brainstorming to the possible solution.
  3. Selecting the best possible solutions that could meet the needs of both the parties.
  4. Planning who will do what, where and when.
  5. Implementation of the plan.
  6. Evaluating the process and the outcomes.

The fact of the matter is that the workplace conflict is unavoidable. Since Mr. Amit cannot escape it, He shouldn’t fear it, but embrace it, because it is his job. The best ability to recognize a conflict is to understand the nature of the conflict. While conflict is a normal part of any social and organizational setting, the challenge of conflict lies in how one chooses to deal with it. Concealed, avoided or otherwise ignored, conflict will likely fester only to grow into resentment, create withdrawal or cause factional infighting within an organization.

As a Manager, Mr. Amit has 5 keys of dealing with the workplace conflicts:

  1. Define acceptable behavior: Creating a framework for decisions, using a published delegation of authority statement, encouraging sound business practices in collaboration, team building, leadership development, and talent management will all help avoid conflicts. Having clearly defined job descriptions so that people know what’s expected of them, and a well-articulated chain of command to allow for effective communication will also help avoid conflicts.
  2. Hit conflicts Head-on: By actually seeking out areas of potential conflict and proactively intervening in a just and decisive fashion you will likely prevent certain conflicts from ever arising.
  3. Understanding what is in for me: The way to avoid conflict is to help those around you achieve their objectives.
  4. The importance factor: If the issue, circumstance, or situation is important enough, and there is enough at stake, people will do what is necessary to open lines of communication and close positional and/or philosophical gaps, so pick your battle and avoid conflicts for the sake of conflicts.
  5. View conflict as opportunity: Hidden within virtually every conflict is the potential for a tremendous teaching/learning opportunity. Where there is disagreement there is an inherent potential for growth and development.

If management ignores conflicts for a long time, it may affect the performance of employees, which would ultimately impact the organization’s performance. To manage conflicts, there are a number of techniques used by organizations. The manager can always use some basic techniques such as, Avoiding, by simply changing the topic or denying any situations that may lead to a problem. Accommodation, by getting adopted to in an organization where individuals are willing to form social relationships with other individuals. Competing techniques can be used during emergencies when quick decisions are to be made for resolving conflicts. Collaboration, often results in a win-win situation for an organization and is one of the most effective way to resolve conflicts. Compromising, when both the parties are equally strong and there is a deadline looming over them.    

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