Negotiation and conflict

Negotiation as defined in the textbook is any attempt by two or more conflicting parties to resolve their divergent goals by redefining the terms or their interdependence. In our latest group exercise, each group was assigned to either the Araks or the Barkans and had to negotiate with another group assigned to the opposite country to solve the Arakian/Barkanian Border Dispute. Each group was given a top-secret information packet, and with the information used to their discretion they were to try and negotiate to come to an agreement to settle the border disputes.

Our group was assigned to the Barkans, and using the conflict handling styles as described in the textbook examples will be given on our effort to negotiate with our opposing country. This exercise illustrated the conflict process very well because it contained all the elements as described in the conflict process. The sources of conflict such as the goals, values, tasks, resources, rules and communication were all known. Both countries had very similar sources of conflict, for example the goals of both countries was to come to an agreement with the opposing country while insuring that their country would survive.

On the other hand along the conflict process model, the manifest conflict that consisted of the conflict style, decision, and overt behaviours varied from group to group. One group’s decisions could vary greatly from another group’s. Having different variations of the manifest conflict would eventually lead to different conflict perceptions and conflict emotions, and thus each opposing group would have a different conflict outcome. In some situations for example, one group would have a more positive outcome compared to its opposing group’s negative outcome.

After researching our information, we were heading into the negotiation process with a win-lose orientation, which is the belief that our gain is the other country’s loss. We did not believe that for our country to prosper greatly that both countries would find a mutually beneficial solution to the conflict. All five of the conflict handling styles were used in one variation or another to help us achieve our goal. The skill of conflict management is to apply to the right style for the situation, in other words recognizing the contingency approach to conflict management.

Collaborating is to try and find a mutually beneficial solution through problem solving. An important aspect of collaboration is information sharing, and this was used to a certain extent. The information given to us was top secret to be used at our discretion, and we only traded information when we felt that we would benefit from it. Along with that comes avoiding, or to avoid conflict situations altogether. By only collaborating to a certain extent, at the same time we were avoiding the issue of giving out more information then we should.

We only gave out information when we felt that we needed some in return, and by not revealing our other knowledge we avoided the issue of what are true objectives were. By entering the negotiation leaning towards a win-lose orientation, we were competing and trying to win the conflict at the other’s expense. Although we were cooperative to a certain extent to avoid war and come to an agreement, we were also very assertive in achieving our goals foremost. Although our country’s welfare was our main goal, we were still in the least somewhat accommodating and compromising.

At very few points of the negotiation did we really accommodate our opposing country, but when we felt that the information we were giving did not bring us down in any way we did so as a sign of good faith. With this, we had hoped that our opposing country would do the same and give us information that we needed that they were unaware of. Compromising situations was the most reoccurring theme in the negotiations. When there seemed like there was nothing both countries could gain in competition and no accommodations were in order, we compromised to reach a middle ground with the other party.

This was a position where our losses were offset by equally values gains. In the end, the other country gained more points and prospered a little better in the negotiations. It was later discussed that both groups had the same ideas and same thoughts going into the negotiations, and the information that they obtained from us proved to be more useful to them then what we received in return. We could have improved on negotiating methods, perhaps aiming for a win-win orientation so that we seemed more cooperative so that more information might have been passed to us.

Conflict occurs regularly in organizations because of the varying opinions and methods of the employees and management. Although it is said that not all conflict is bad, this is only true when it is controlled to mild forms of conflict without having it escalade into an emotional battle among the employees. I feel there will always be conflict, and as the book suggests I feel the best way management can deal with it is to keep it from being a socioemotional conflict and keep it as a task-related conflict. As long as the conflict is addressed and it doesn’t become personal, new ideas may emerge and the conflict remains controlled.

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