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Conflict Management Approach

Conflict management approaches are used in many different organizations. This style of management can be very effective; however, from my point of view it is repetitive, time consuming and energy draining. Over the past 8 years, I have worked in one form or another with peoples of different nationalities and cultures. For the most part, it has been an interaction with the Saudi people. The very nature of the Saudi culture tends to be conflictive compared to western ways. In that respect, conflict management has been an integral part of my working day. In the following paragraphs, I will show how conflict management approaches are used in my organization and how they differ from my personal preference and style.

The topic of conflict and conflict management resolution and style are important to my organization and the way it operates. The approaches that are necessary to overcome difficulties and problems are typical to an organization of this type. Since we operate with the military, our organization offers every type of conflict management style that would normally be identified in a group of this type. Much the same way as a coach offers changes in strategies during a heated contest; we take into account the mission parameters, the individuals assigned to task completion and take the appropriate actions to get the job done, quickly and efficiently, with as little conflict as physically possible. This aspect of the job has its own inherent problems because of the differences of culture that are apparent between the Saudi’s and westerners working here.

“Each of us has a characteristic personality. Such a style reflects our unique wants, needs and values”. My unique personality is that of being fast paced, spontaneous and people-focused. So, in general, I am very stimulated by the positive and negative responses I get from others. I look for positives in the training I give, hoping for perfection after showing someone how to do a difficult task. I am interactive with a dominant style and I expect tasks to be accomplished within a certain amount of time. Since I know how long it takes to do just about every job we do, I get frustrated when someone takes twice as long to do something.

The Saudi culture, on the other hand, is one of being a slow paced society where everything can wait until tomorrow to get done. Trainees learn a task but do not consider it important enough to remember for tomorrow, and besides, there is always another day to learn it. Furthermore, their style of conflict management is more of a cautious and steady style. They actually dislike conflict so much that they will run away from it rather than be assertive. When you mix this style with an aggressive one, as it is in western cultures, there tends to be conflict. For the Saudi’s, tomorrow may not come at all, so they will only worry about today and the problems and tasks associated with today. Their main focus tends to be less on the big picture and more focused on the here and now. There also is a big problem with resistance to authority, which is a constant problem in and around our organization. When it comes to working, it can be like pulling teeth sometimes to get the trainees to do anything.

Trainees are expected to remember how to do things after they have been shown what to do and are signed off as to being knowledgeable in that particular task. So, I get really irritated when they plead ignorance when asked to perform regularly performed tasks. This would be a negative response to a positive influence, given in the form of training from me. I know that the reason for the negative response is a compilation of culture, training, understanding and lack of interest on the part of the Saudi trainees. However, in an organization like ours, negative responses are conflicts, which must be dealt with quickly. People can get seriously hurt if a cog in the wheels gets out of whack. In other words, when we are in the middle of an explosive operation, a negative response will get someone hurt, and is not tolerated. Conflicts like this can range from heated arguments to almost coming to blows over something as small as a misunderstanding over what to do. The Saudi trainee will then go into his shell, as is characteristic of his personality and culture, and the learning process stops. So, as a way of approaching conflict resolution in this case, the first step would be; understanding the culture of the people we deal with. I realize that belittling or yelling at trainees has no place in this society. I have also come to the understanding that there are advantages and disadvantages of each style of conflict management as there are in personality traits. “The same style that carries us to the heights of success when overused or used exclusively can also carry us to the depths of despair.” There have been cases where trainers have been sent back to the states for verbal and physical abuses caused by conflicts that could not be resolved.

In conclusion, “many organizations boast that teams are successful because they never have conflict. This is a fallacy because it is necessary for effective decision making as well as developing insight, trust, understanding and innovation.” In our organization there is conflict every day. Even so, Planes fly, munitions get loaded and people work together (or they don’t), though they are divided by language and culture. We all have come to a mutual understanding in conflict resolution. Our styles may differ, still, we manage to maintain a friendly relationship in both work and play by effectively interacting with each other and being aware of the others alien styles.

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