Shirley and Abdul cognitive, emotional and behavioral dimensions need to be addressed, as well as how they have tot approached and see the conflict, and also contributing factors of power and culture. Once all these issues have been discussed, the mediation can facilitate the most effective ways for this particular conflict can be resolved. Mayer (2012) observes that to outline conflict only using someone’s actions would be a misrepresentation of the nature of conflict. It needs to also include the understanding of someone’s cognitive (perception) and emotional (feelings) alongside the behavioral (action) dimensions (peg).
By reading the statements that Shirley and Abdul both submitted and applying it to the above statement, it’s easy to see that Shirley feelings of conflict are evolving highly from her perception that Abdul actions are deliberate towards her. This can be seen in her statement when Shirley interprets Abdul actions as underlying her, treating her as a team member and implying that Shirley is working for Abdul – not with him. As for Abdul, he is under the perception that the conflict is mostly in Shirley s imagination and she is ‘too-sensitive” about the previous situations.
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Abdul isn’t displaying many outward emotions about this conflict, however his actions of calling meetings and signing myself as project manager are the subject of Shirley discontent. In the case of Shirley and Abdul, looking at the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral dimensions aren’t in depth enough to truly understand where this conflict is coming from. To understand more in depth the motivation behind Shirley and Abdul conflict, Mayer (2012) proposes using the ‘Wheel of Conflict’. The Wheel of Conflict by Mayer (2012), is originally based on the conflict circle by Christopher Moore.
It explains that in conflict, every party has their needs in a conflict and looking at communication, emotions, values, history and Truckee may be an influence in the underlying cause (Mayer 2010). Through their statements it is clear to see that Shirley and Abdul haven’t had much effective communication with each other. The quality of substance in communication is the most important factor in communication (Deutsche, M. Coleman, P. & Marcus, E. 2006), and Shirley and Abdul statements are both missing situations of effective communication.
The History of Shirley and Abdul is also important to address as it also combines with emotions that may be influencing the current conflict. Shirley might still be struggling with working as an equal to Abdul as she previously didn’t think Abdul was right for the position in the first place. Abdul initial rejection from Shirley during his job interview, may have left Abdul with feelings of needing to prove himself to Shirley, hence his determination to be a great leader. This can be seen in his actions of initiative to call meetings and sign himself as project manager.
By using the Wheel of Conflict, it is clear to see that communication, history, and emotions may be the underlying principles of Shirley and Abdul conflict. A knowledge of how people have approached a conflict can help a mediator to better decipher how to resolve the issue. In the case of Shirley and Abdul, there are several differences in the way they have both approached the current situation. Abdul is showing a passive-aggressive avoidance (Meyers, 2012). Avoidance in conflict is characterized by changing or avoiding the topic, joking or denial of the conflict altogether (Babysat & Manning, 2003).
This can been seen from Abdul through his statements of, “There is nothing to get excited about,” and “What difference does it make? ” Abdul is advocating for an outcome-based approach to this conflict, by his avoidance of the conflict it is clear that he has no problems and wishes the outcome to stay how it already is. Abdul is approaching this conflict with the facts, whereas Shirley is approaching this from an emotional state, focusing on her feelings rather than the facts. Shirley s emotional state is causing her to come from a passive avoidance state, she has a problem but she hasn’t shown to confront Abdul about any of these issues.
She is also showing signs of coming from a rights-based engagement to this conflict (Meyers, 2012). This is seen in her statement where Shirley is showing emotions of unfairness by saying, “treating me as just another team member,” and, “Obviously implying that am working for him. ” Shirley is seeking her entitlement of project manager, which is a pure example of rights-based engagement. The way that people approach conflict can be successful or unsuccessful to the individual depending on their power.
Power can be defined as the ability to create your desired outcomes (Deutsche et al 2006). Mayer (2012) discuss two types of power called structural (systemic) power and personal power. Structural power looks at the whole situation, including the legal and political frameworks, the authority of the people in the conflict and the different ways that the conflict can be resolved. Personal power looks at the individual including their determination, knowledge, courage, communication skills and other characteristics (Mayer 2012).
In the case of Shirley and Abdul, Shirley is coming from a structural approach, as she is wanting to change the situation and create more authority for herself, whereas Abdul is appealing more too personal power, using his actions to complete his current job. Within the power structures of conflict, there are many different dynamics that Shirley and Abdul are using. Shirley for example, is exercising formal authority power within this conflict. Formal authority power is given to Shirley by her co- project lead title, and she is trying to gain more power in that position.
Abdul On the other hand, while also using formal authority power in his co-project lead title, is also exercising procedural power, which is using power to influence procedures but not the outcome. Abdul is using his power to call meetings and run the team procedures. Culture is also a variable that can be looked at when approaching conflict. Mayer (2012) describes culture as a group of norms, values, historical backgrounds and behavioral patterns that apply to all individuals in a certain group of people.
There are three variables that Mayer (2012) discusses when looking at culture in conflict, high and low context, power distance and linearity. High context is the ability of individuals, as part of a group, to understand the norms and values without direct communication, whereas low context is the knowledge of the values and arms from direct communication or a set of formal rules (Sternberg & Dobson 1987). Shirley is displaying high context by her lack of communication to Abdul but her expectation of him to be in tune with her needs, but Abdul has been open and communicative about the conflict, therefore exercising low context.
Power distance refers to the distance between people in their power authority. A person with low-power distance sees those around them as equal, whereas a person displaying high-power distance may be using their authority to those in a lower power position (Our & Fisher 1 981 ) Shirley is mating a lower-power distance with Abdul, wanting equality in their positions, as Abdul has been displaying high-power distance by not including Shirley and calling meetings without her input.
Linearity is used to describe the way people communicate in a conflict, focusing on one thing at a time is a linear approach, where a less structured commutative way is nonlinear. Shirley has been straight forward in her complaint, focusing on mainly the facts and a clear desired outcome, which would be considered as linear, whereas Abdul is displaying nonlinear through his statement as he discusses acts as well as Shirley s emotions, and exaggeration of her emotional state.
After looking at the con dive, behavioral, and emotional approaches through the Wheel of Conflict, as well as looking at the power and culture and the way that they have approached the conflict, the ways to resolve this conflict can be approached. Summarizing the above case of Shirley and Abdul, there are many variable problems that need to be resolved. Their history of Shirley not originally wanting to hire Abdul, the lack of communication, Abdul avoidance of the conflict, Shirley emotional approach to the conflict, the power roles and cultural differences all need to be covered in the mediation.
Mayer (2012) suggests three approaches to conflict resolution, cognitive resolution, emotional resolution, and behavioral resolution. Cognitive resolution addresses the way the people perceive the conflict, whether their statements have been addressed, some closure has been reached and if they view the main conflict is behind them, then cognitively the people in the conflict will see resolution (Mayer 2012). There are two strategies that can be applied, cognitive dissonance and reframing.
Leon Festering “Theory of cognitive dissonance (1962) explains cognitive dissonance as the internal struggle of conflicting values or thoughts. For Shirley and Abdul to reach a state where there is no cognitive dissonance (consonant), their feelings and the conflict need to be addressed, and the behaviors that led to the conflict need to be changed. This requires Shirley and Abdul the chance to equally talk about the current situation and their feelings. Reframing also needs to come into effect by re-structuring the current conflict and allowing both Shirley and Abdul to see the conflict in a ewe light.
This can happen by sharing their story about themselves in the current conflict to appeal to each other’s emotions, causing the other to see the conflict from the others point of view. Emotional resolution can only happen when the feelings that people have about the conflict are gone. For Shirley, her emotions of feeling left out and not equal need to be addressed and resolved, and Abdul frustration of Shirley o;arid conflict needs to be changed into an equal caring partnership for this conflict to be truly left behind. The amount of emotional energy that either is putting into the inflict can be an indication of emotional resolution.
If Shirley continues to feel left out and complain of inequality after mediation then emotionally the conflict isn’t resolved. Forgiveness and Apology’ are essential to emotional resolution, Shirley and Abdul after cognitively seeing each other’s point of view, may offer apologies for overseeing the other person. If they can both forgive each other than movement toward resolution is imminent. The Behavioral resolution can only be talked about in the mediation, but only time will tell whether both parties are keeping up with it. In mediation, both Shirley and Abdul need to discuss how they are going to move forward.
This could be in the way of Abdul and Shirley meeting once a week to schedule their projects, or Abdul and Shirley leading meetings together. Clear rules and boundaries need to be set in place and clear expectations of Abdul and Shirley need to be agreed upon by everyone. When both Shirley and Abdul can see the other actively putting in the effort to change the conflict then behavioral resolution will take effect. Along with cognitive resolution, emotional resolution, and behavioral resolution, the mediation must also cake into account how much depth is necessary for complete resolution (Coleman 2011).
If it isn’t deep enough, then emotions may still be connected to the conflict, as well as the way the parties are viewing it, too much depth and the parties are involved too closely with another to completely resolve all workplace issues. In the case of Shirley and Abdul, their emotional depth is as far as they need to go. It needs to be deep enough for Shirley to be able to let go of her feelings of powerlessness and she needs her project leader title re- established. With this depth of resolution, all emotions should be heard and acknowledged, allowing cognitive change followed up by behavioral resolution.
Conflict resolution is a process that can change for every different situation. The variables that need to be addressed as well as the level of resolution methods need to be adjusted accordingly. Shirley and Abdul, reaching an emotional depth of resolution, will be able to reach resolution depending on their follow up actions after mediation. Using the skills of forgiveness and apology, sharing stories, and setting new rules and boundaries Shirley and Abdul concerns with the conflict will be addressed ND both will be able to move forward in an equal working relationship.