N6 Communication: Coping with Conflict and Stress (FET Colleges, South Africa)

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Published on February 5, 2014

Author: suzaanoltmann

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Coping with conflict and stress. N6 Communication Module for FET Colleges, South Africa

Mod 3: Coping with conflict and stress Pg 165 – 198 Chapter 8 in textbook

8.1 Definition of Conflict (page 165) Conflict involves intrapersonal or interpersonal confrontations, caused by the simultaneous arousal of incompatible motives or needs, that lead to a temporary or permanent disruption of normal functioning.

8.2 Modern view of conflict in working situations • Traditional view: avoid the working environment • Interactive view: conflict is a natural, inevitable part of human behaviour – it should be properly controlled and managed. • If well-managed then it conflict can be beneficial and essential if an organisation is to function effectively. • Manager: must maintain minimum levels of conflict – he has to monitor, analyse and control existing levels of conflict continuously.

8.2 Proper management and control of conflict: • Distinguish between functional (constructive) and disfunctional (destructive) conflict • Take stock of the pro’s (potential benefits) and the con’s (potential costs or disadvantages) of conflict • Instituting procedures which would maximise the potential benefits of conflict and minimise its costs.

8.3 Functional and Disfunctional Conflict (p.166) Functional Conflict • Mild levels of conflict which are constructive in nature • Usually lead to healthier personal relationships, improved performance and positive organisational results Disfunctional conflict • Non-functional conflict • Involves ever increasing levels of conflict • Is destructive in nature • Usually lead to deteriorating interpersonal relationships, poor performance and negative organisational results

8.4 Types of Conflict p.166 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Intrapersonal conflict Interpersonal conflict Conflict within groups Intergroup confict Conflict between management and staff 6. Interorganisational conflict 7. Community or societal conflict

8.4 Types of conflict 8.4.1 Intrapersonal • Conflict within an individual • Caused by boredom, frustration or anxiety when faced with certain tasks or decisions. • Degree of intrapersonal conflict day to day

8.4 Types of conflict 8.4.2 Interpersonal • Interactions in which two or more individuals attempt to satisfy mutually incompatible needs. • Opposing or conflicting needs. • State of tension due to opposing or conflicting patters of behaviour. Interpersonal conflict requires: • Opposing interests • Recognition of conflicting interests from parties • Belief that other party has harmed or intends to harm its interests • Ongoing interaction • Direct actions by one or both sides that harm interest of other side

8.4 Types of conflict 8.4.3 Conflict within groups • Individuals within the same group often experience conflict • Causes: different views regarding the causes of a problem • Can be more personal, leave taken at the same time.

8.4 Types of conflict 8.4.4 Intergroup conflict • Varying degrees of conflict between different groups • Healthy competition between groups • Less healthy conflict – annual race for increase in office space

8.4 Types of conflict 8.4.5 Conflict between management and staff • “Them vs. us” syndrome • Different perceptions regarding functions of management and staff • Some see management having “a soft job” • Appreciation shown to staff can be lacking

8.4 Types of conflict 8.4.6 Interorganisational conflict • Conflict between members of competing organisations • Examples: Cellular cellphone networks, car manufacturers, Television networks

8.4 Types of conflict 8.4.7 Community or societal conflict • Political, social, economical and religious differences can give rise to conflict

8.5 Causes of conflict p.168 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Training and development Poor communication Working conditions Intercultural differences Different goals and values Conflicting personalities Poor self-image

8.6 Results of conflict p.171 Potential benefits • Conflict situations serve to expose problems • Lead to healthy selfcriticism • Lead to creativity, discovery of latent talents and abilities, • Facilitate innovation and change • Increase loyalty, motivation and performance within groups Potential negative results • Cause physical, mental stress and fatigue • Leads to defensive behaviour • Wastes time & energy • Lead to delayed & poor decisions • Creates deadlocks • Disrups comm and willingness to listen • Negative influence on external image of org.

8.7 Coping with conflict p.172 1. General guidelines for coping with interpersonal conflict 2. Avoidance or withdrawal 3. Accommodation 4. Subordination 5. Compromise (or agreement) 6. Cooperation and problem solving (cooperational problem solving) 7. Mediation 8. Arbitration

8.7.1 General guidelines for coping with conflict • Focus on problem, not on person or party • Focus on facts. Be specific. Avoid vague accusations. • Be objective. Control emotions. Be cautious not to be influenced by other’s emotions. • Show interest in opposing party’s views – be a good listener, be patient. Allow time for other person to express his views. • Respect opposing party’s dignity and pride.

8.7 Coping with conflict 8.7.2 Avoidance or withdrawal • Involves a process where problem is deliberately ignored “procrastination” or an attitude of “let the problem go away” 8.7.3 Accommodation • Interpersonal behaviour for the sake of harmonious relationships rather than one’s own benefit. 8.7.4 Subordination • Suppressing differences because they have a more important common goal to achieve – or more important enemy to face.

8.7 Coping with conflict 8.7.5 Compromise (agreement) • Partly satisfying requirements of each of parties concerned. Temporary settlement of conflict. 8.7.6 Cooperation and problem solving • Attempt to find a true solution beneficial to all parties. All work together to find the best solution by offering advice, listening to solutions. A common goal is set before cooperational problem solving. 8.7.7 Mediation • Asking an outside party to assist both conflicting sides in reaching an agreement.

8.7 Coping with conflict 8.7.7 Arbitration • When normal negotiations have failed to solve conflict, conflicting parties may agree to submit their dispute to an external, impartial arbitrator, who will then formulate a settlement. • Binding arbitration – all parties involved must accept the arbitrator’s decision • Voluntary arbitration – either party is free to reject or accept the proposed settlement • To get to a lasting agreement, it is essential arbitrator should be acceptable to both parties.

8.8 Formal mechanisms for solving conflict 1. Grievance procedure o Reasons why a grievance procedure is essential 2. Disciplinary action o Principles underlying the disciplinary code 3. Essential requirements for a disciplinary code o Requirements that has to be met

8.8.1 Grievance Procedure p.174 1. Reasons why it is essential: • 1st level supervisors do not have the interpersonal skill or authority to settle all complaints and dissatisfactions. • Existence reduces likelihood of unauthorised action by supervisors • Formal procedure draws attention of higher management to see problems and needs of employees – and irregular or unfair aspects in policy • Serves as an outlet for employees’ frustration and can improve staff morale.

8.8.2 Disciplinary action p.175 Principles underlying the disciplinary code: • Recognises management’s right to take appropriate steps against any employee whose conduct is detrimental to the interests of the company. • Recognises an employee’s right to a fair hearing and to appeal against any disciplinary measure which he regards as unjust. • Emphasis is on prevention, justice and rehabilitation. Disciplinary procedures should only be instituted if an employee makes no effort to improve his behaviour.

8.8.3 Essential requirements for the disciplinary code A disciplinary system should meet the following requirements: • A definite and clearly stated disciplinary policy and procedure should exist • Rules of the organisation must be clearly communicated to employees before they can be held accountable. • Set rules and standards should be reasonable • Employee is presumed innocent until proven guilty • Disciplinary steps must be fair and consistent • Disciplinary steps should involve progressively severe penalties. • The offending employee has the right to counsel, and the right to appeal.

8.10 Coping with stress p.180 1. Definition: Stress is the physiological, psychological and behavioural response of an individual in his attempts to adjust to internal and/or external pressures or demands.

8.10.2 The relationship between conflict & stress 2. Relationship between conflict and stress Remember the definition of conflict? Intra- and interpersonal confrontations caused by simultaneous arousal of incompatible motives or needs, results in a disruption of normal functioning. Conflict represents internal or external pressures to which the individual has to adjust. Conflict therefore can cause the individual to experience stress. Should the response be negative, then it can lead to even a greater experience of stress. The conflict-stress cycle can become vicious …

8.10.3 Different types of stress (Eustress) p.181 • Seen as a positive force, it stimulates the individual into finding life challenging and exciting. “The right amount and kind of stress makes you come alive” – it makes you perform at your best. • Can lead to: improved job-related performance, greater creativity and motivation, can lead to a more satisfying career. • It is essential, a positive aspect in any one’s life. • Can lead towards achieving your goals.

8.10.3 Different types of stress (Distress) p.181 • Negative force, accomplished by feelings of trauma and an inability to cope. • Characterised: feelings of exhaustion, anxiety, tension, sense of being rushed. • Victims show: physiological irregularities like heart palpitations and excessive perspiration. • Job situation: inability to concentrate, poor judgement, loss of emotional control, increased conflict.

8.10.4 Stressors p.181 Stressor: any factor on condition which causes stress: • Emotional (worry, fear, frustration, conflict, guilt, grief • Physiological (injury to the body, illness or exhaustion • Physical (time pressure, work load, criteria of performance) Three interrelated categories of stressors: • Frustrations (obstacles, frustrations, personal limitations) • Conflicts (confrontations, incompatible needs) • Pressures (to achieve certain goals or to behave in a particular manner) – External or internal

8.10.4 Severity of stress p.182 Severity of stress is determined (measured) by the degree to which it disrupts functioning. This depends on: • The characteristics of the stressor • The particular individual’s resources and the available supporting human and material resources • The relationship between the two factors above

8.10.5 Physiology of stress p.182 Stress is the human body’s attempts to restore an imbalance caused by a stressor of some kind The body reacts in different stages: • The alarm (or warning) stage (fight or flight) o See page 183 for physiological changes • The resistance stage (enters into here when stress is experienced by some time) • The exhaustion (“burn-out”) stage (stress is overwhelming and victim is unable to cope).

Also see page 183 for other symptoms

8.10.6 Negative physical, emotional & behavioural effects of stress p.184 • Interrelated emotional, behavioural and physical effects of stress on the human being • Know the definitions of the various neuroses • See page 185 for behavioural and physical effects • Emotional (temporary) effects o Transitory (temporary) effects o More damaging, persistent effects of neuroses • Anxiety • Depression • Hysteria • Obsessions

8.10.7 Common reasons for stress p.185 1. Personal living conditions 2. Working environment 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Poor physical working conditions Job overload Job underload Role in the organisation Relationship at work Organisational structure and climate Career prospects Family relationship 3. Economical, political and social stressors 4. The personality of the individual Personality of the individual p.188-189 Type A personality • Self-assertive, aggressive, hostile “ready to pick a fight” • Impatient • Workaholic • Involved in multiple projects • Take on excessive responsibility • Extremely competitive • Critical of others • Impatient listener • Explosive speaker (fast) • Make quick, impulsive decisions Type B personality • Placid and calm, no hostility towards others • Patient and hardy • Relatively relaxed, easygoing • Neither competitive nor achievement-oriented or over-ambitious • Reflects thoroughly before making decisions • Copes well with stress • Adapts well to changing environmental needs

8.10.8 Coping with stress p.190 1. General guidelines for coping with stress • Improve your decision-making skills • Improve your self-image and think positively • Follow a healthy diet; get enough exercise and sleep • Develop relaxation techniques • Establish a reliable support system • Be assertive

8.10.8 Coping with stress p.193 2. Guidelines for coping with interpersonal conflict and stress in the working environment • Take constructive action to solve problems • Attach the cause, not merely the symptoms • Broaden your scope • Compromise • Practise diplomatic confrontation • Admit your mistake • Practice empathy • Try to bring humour into the situation • Practice restraint

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