6 May 2022


Guide to Dealing with Conflict Review

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Academic level: Ph.D.

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Definition of Conflict

A conflict is a clear disagreement between two or more parties. In the education sector, conflict is most likely to occur just like in any other institution due to the representation of many stakeholders at one place (Felton, Garcia‐Mila, Villarroel, & Gilabert, 2015). The fact that the different segments have various interests makes the occurrence of conflict inevitable. How the management deals with it will influence its impact on the firm which can either be positive or negative. Conflicts are most likely to cause harm than good and, therefore, it is advisable to handle such aspects as soon as they occur to minimize their impacts.

A conflict may occur in different scenarios and at various stages, and conflict resolution strategies should be developed to deal with varying types of conflict. Evaluating the kind of conflict will be useful to know which type of strategy to apply. A best-solved conflict is one that has been analyzed and its negative and positive effects studied (Tedeschi, 2017). With this information in hand, the management and other concerned individuals will know at what angle to tackle the incidences. Individuals in both parties should not raise blame to other involved. In addressing a conflict one should learn to own the problem rather than acting defensive. This consideration will provide a suitable environment for open views, and this eases how conflict can be solved.

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A conflict if not solved at earlier stages may result in a dispute which is a term that refers to advanced strife that has taken a while with no solution. This scenario has more significant impacts on education and it, in turn, affects the performance of the given institution (Gliatto, Colbert-Getz, Bhutiani, Cutrer, Edwards, Fleming, & Moynahan, 2019). The administration should put into consideration such factors to avoid raising questions from the public who have higher expectation from the institution. The sector has an obligation of offering quality education to the public which in turn will be used as a tool to tackle many social eyesores such as crime, poverty, and corruption (Gallo, 2017). If this noble goal is not achieved, the organization will conflict with the public. It is evident that an institution should try to minimize getting into conflict to provide a good working environment which will in turn yield positive results.

Healthy Conflicts

It is not always true that wherever conflict occurs, there will be adverse effects. The processes that lead to a conflict and the steps taken to calm the incidences may have tremendous positive impacts on the organization involved. The means has been proven to leave teams more connected than divided (Felton et al., 2015). Many times organization that do not have room for disagreements end up housing disgruntled and demotivated staff. Such a situation is likely to result in the redundancy of ideas which is not healthy for the performance of an entity (Rahim, 2017). Therefore, it is essential that every education facilities understand the potential benefits of conflicts and lay down frameworks to ensure that it is done healthily.

There are situations when a conflict forces team members to air their suggestions openly and have the rest of them listen intently. The process of paying at attention to other people’s sentiments without cutting them off offers room for considerations of one’s stands. In most cases, the warring factions will reach a compromise (Johansson & Emilson, 2016).In this case, all members of the team are equally important as they embrace individual views and opinions even as they disagree. Similarly, accommodating other people’s ideas makes one build their confidence in working with the rest of the team (Gallo, 2017). A team that works collaboratively is better than a single individual. Therefore, in instances where conflicts bring people together to deliberate on issues, there will be enhanced performance in the institution. 

Healthy conflict is a sign of trust amongst team members, and this gives an individual the confidence in sharing their ideas openly. Teams built on trust are most likely to come up with better solutions that are long term (DeRouen & Barrett, 2019). The situation arises since the involved members will feel it right to raise any concerns that may arise from issues. This situation differs sharply from situations where team members fear confronting each other due to power differences or different kinds of favoritism. This group of individuals is bound to harbor mistrust as individuals feel insecure about expressing their views (Gliato et al., 2019). Therefor colleagues should build trust amongst themselves to provide a better working environment that will yield better performance in education.

Healthy conflicts also build commitment. Parties that have their ideas readily embraced will not spend a lot of time deliberating on them. The situation arises since they are sure that they will meet minimal resistance (Felton et al., 2017). On the other hand, a party that feels their ideas will be vetted first will be committed to doing more research in support of their views. Accordingly, their propositions are likely to be a result of diverse ideas. Education suggestions based on diversity, just like any other fields, will encourage more debates and motions to vote for the best design that will suit the institute to better their performance (Rispens, & Demerouti, 2016). That is why most education firms will encourage healthy conflicts so that the parties represented do not feel like they are left out.

Self-knowledge and self-regulation in conflict

Self-knowledge plays a vital role in conflict management. Self-knowledge is having an in-depth understanding of oneself, that is, being aware of who you are. Individuals who have self-knowledge are always conscious of their actions and are likely to relate with others well. A proper grasp of self-knowledge will likely lead to higher emotional intelligence as the person will understand how their actions will impact others around him or her (Gallo, 2017). It is a process which is characterized by continuous self-reflection by individuals to get to understand themselves. In an educational setting, self-knowledge is very crucial in conflict management in different ways.

To begin with, self-knowledge can be used as a tool to manage conflicts. Knowing yourself will determine whether the situation can escalate into a conflict or not. Gallo (2017) suggests four ways of handling conflicts; do nothing, address it directly, address it indirectly or exit. This might be simple as it sounds, but it is not that easy. In an education system, different conflicts can be avoided simply by knowing yourself and how to approach the situation. For example, a teacher can address a conflict issue with a colleague by confrontation to get a chance to air his views (DeRouen & Barrett, 2019). To do this, one needs to do it calmly and give the other person time to also talk, with an aim of finding a solution. Self-knowledge will be vital in planning on efficient delivery of one’s points by ensuring that the ideas are articulate and reflect the plausible values that one holds dear.

One current conflict in any organization is how to deal with rumors. In an education center, this can be between different tiers: support- staff, educators, administrative or students. One technique to mitigate these occurences is to do nothing or confront the other person directly. To do this, a person has to be self-aware to react in the best way possible rather than letting the situation escalate a conflict (Gallo, 2017). Self-awareness will be crucial to help one know if they have a chance of emerging victorious from a conflict. In a case where there is little evidence to support one’s stand in an issue, keeping quiet will be a useful approach to avoid the rumor mongers’ circulating the speculations further.

Self-knowledge can also help an individual recognize his or her natural tendency. According to Gallo, (2017), generally, there are two types of people: those who avoid conflict and those who seek it. These tendencies can help make better decisions. When applied to the classroom situation, this can be effective for a teacher to predict students’ behaviors better and take appropriate actions (Paradis & Whitehead, 2015). For instance, the decision to ignore a naughty comment made by a learner will help avoid its escalation and save time.

Having self-knowledge may lead to self-regulation, which according to Gallo (2017) is concerned with the implementation of action strategies to aid people in reaching desired goals. It is the ability to regulate a person’s emotions and actions in certain situations. Self-control is like having will-power and not yielding to any temptation. Much like any other organization, persons cannot let emotions get the better of them in an education center (Felton et al., 2017). Workers, educator, and students must, therefore, ensure self-regulation as a way of dealing with conflicts.

Being self-regulated can help one manage his or her emotions thereby making best decisions during a stressful situation. Conflicts can bring all sorts of negative emotions for seekers and avoiders alike. Gallo (2017) suggests recognizing the feeling but not letting it go may stop one from trying to solve the conflict. Therefore, to be a good co-worker, colleague, educator or a student, one needs to set emotions aside and try to resolve a dispute in a manner that can benefit both parties. Being rational will help in ensuring every party involved in conflict raises their views (DeRouen & Barrett, 2019). In this manner, any decision reached at will receive the backing of a majority of the individuals involved.

In an argument or a disagreement, the best way to confront the situation is to remain calm. According to (Gallo, 2017), for conflict seekers, checking their temper is essential. For avoiders, taking a deep breath, looking around and even checking one’s body can help remain in the conversation rather than running away. The choice of either strategy will depend on the condition at hand (DeRouen & Barrett, 2019). For instance, in a case where conflict has escalated to a point where two parties could hurt each other, there will be a need to confront the situation.

Although Gallo’s HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict offers the best strategies for dealing with conflicts in this scenario, it also has its shortcomings (Gallo, 2017). For instance, when people are in an argument, it is not clear what the intention of the other party is. Everybody has an agenda. For Gallo, her suggestion is to remain in the conversation if one is a conflict avoider, the seeker to check his or her emotion and let the conversation continue. In most cases this might not work as one party may become defensive and ready to fight. In this manner, the best way is to quit before it escalates. 

Communication and Conflict

Communication in an institution allows people to share information to coordinate and work with each other towards achieving the institution's goals. However, when there is dissimilarity in opinions or ideas and misunderstanding, a conflict may quickly arise from these (Johansson & Emilson, 2016). In conflict resolution, communication plays a significant role in a way that it can lead to conflicts when there is no understanding, or be used to repair a relationship after a disagreement.

Being able to communicate clearly in an institution ensures that there are no misunderstandings. Sometimes, when there are conflicting ideas, the best way to deal with this is to allow each other time to talk and listen to each other. Turn-taking means that there is respect between the parties and that everyone’s ideas matters (Gallo, 2017). Setting clear objectives implies that other people know what you expect from them. To avoid conflict in an institution; therefore, the intended meaning should be clear, take time to listen to the other party, be an active listener and be empathetic towards them.

Communication can also be used to build relationships after conflicts. After conflict resolution, the next step is to build rapport. Building rapport will ensure a healthy environment since disputes are likely to cause a toxic work environment which is unbearable. According to Gallo (2017), this can be achieved in different ways. These include apologizing to the other party (and does not necessarily mean that a person must be at fault for them to apologize), reconnecting through questions (to elicit more communication), establishing reciprocity, spending time together and focusing on commonalities. Sometimes, it is also good to consider a third party to mediate the situation when communication fails. Feedback is also an import way to build broken relationships at work. 

Types of Conflict

Stakeholders also need to understand the different types of conflicts and how they arise to deal with disputes in education effectively. According to Gallo, (2017), there are four types of dispute that may occur in educational settings. They include relationship conflicts, task conflicts, process conflicts, and status conflicts. 

Relationship conflicts result from the way people interact in an institution. They include personal issues such as how employees treat each other or disagreements over who is doing the right thing or not. If one thinks that they are mistreated, then there is likely to be a clash of personalities leading to a relationship conflict (Gallo, 2017). The best way to deal with this conflict in education is to do nothing. However, there are other options but ignoring is the easiest and least effort approach and it involves one to carry on as if nothing happened (Felton et al., 2017). Ignoring is the right thing to do as hatred on a different person mainly stems from subjective tendencies which cannot be solved by depending on rational ways of conflict resolution.

When it comes to task conflicts, colleagues tend to disagree on the goal the institution is trying to achieve. For example, there could be a difficulty agreeing on whether to renovate the school’s canteen or the offices. The most appropriate means to handle this is to address it indirectly. This process is done by directly talking about the issue but not mentioning the confrontations that may be underlying it (Luke, 2018). In this case, trying to compare the benefits of the two if one was to be renovated first can help. By doing this, an agreement is likely to be reached upon in the best way possible without an escalation of a conflict.

Process conflicts entail disagreements on which is the best approach to achieve a specific outcome. Unlike tasks conflicts, when handling process conflicts, the best way is to address them directly. This suggestion involves airing one’s views and listening to the other party’s ideas to arrive at the best solution (Rahim, 2017). These conflicts may include disagreements over the methods of teaching or the way of handling workers’ welfare finances. In such cases, the moderator in the disputes could give various case examples of process that worked well in other institutions and avoid naming any individuals who might be propagating disagreements.

Status conflicts are those that arise as a result of position or power issues in an institution. The disagreement of “Who is in charge?” are a common trend in many learning institutions. The best way to address these conflicts is to exit the situation (DeRouen & Barrett, 2019). Moving to another department can be a good idea, or quitting the job if issues are not working out as expected.

Power Dynamics

Understanding the power dynamics in education is also another way to help deal with conflict. This concept entails how people interact at their places of work in the case where one party wields more power than the other. The notion of having more power may be a construct of the organizational culture as many people are deemed to be powerful, but they do not feel the same way themselves (Tedeschi, 2017). Interpersonal power may influence a colleague, or make them think that the other party is in control of the situation or the resources needed for him or her. Understanding power dynamics in an education center can help one deal with conditions relating to power dynamics, especially bullying.

Bullying often may involve another colleague withholding information or resources needed for one to do their job. Other instances include the constant undermining of another party. To deal with this, one needs to understand the situation and confront it or seek help. By facing the case, one lets the other person know that what they are doing is not right and that it’s affecting them (Paradis & Whitehead, 2015). Seeking colleagues’ help involves talking to colleagues that you trust for their intervention. 

Power dynamics can also lead to a conflict between senior and junior employees. This might be the methods of doing work, taking credit for another’s work or conflict over resources. To deal with these situations, one needs to acknowledge that they are not in charge, let it cool down and focus on the goals of the institution, or explain their intent. If one is in a senior position, the best way is to get into the bottom of the issue, acknowledge the matter with one’s team and solve it (DeRouen & Barrett, 2019). If this does not help, one can always seek a third party to act as a mediator. This can be another person from a different department. 

Sometimes power dynamics conflicts can involve people outside the institution. For example, it could be with a supplier over delays. To approach this conflict, one needs to be calm, be empathetic with the supplier, show respect and work together to solve the issue (Gallo, 2017). However, there ought to be a time limit within which to beg the party involved lest the institution incurs losses. After the threshold has been surpassed, the management ought to make a point to get another supplier.


Conflicts are inevitable in any learning facility. With ample knowledge about conflict and its dynamics, the management can come up with processes that ensure conflict is only sued for the betterment of the institution. In this regard, there should be an outline of the situation that will need confrontation and those where ignoring will be the best option. Such a culture will ensure that even the staff adopt a positive mindset towards conflicts.


DeRouen, K., & Barrett, M. (2019). Mediation across different types of conflict. In  Research Handbook on Mediating International Crises . Edward Elgar Publishing.

Felton, M., Garcia‐Mila, M., Villarroel, C., & Gilabert, S. (2015). Arguing collaboratively: Argumentative discourse types and their potential for knowledge building.  British Journal of Educational Psychology 85 (3), 372-386.

Gallo, A. (2017).  HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict (HBR Guide Series) . Harvard Business Review Press.

Gliatto, P., Colbert-Getz, J. M., Bhutiani, M., Cutrer, W. B., Edwards, S., Fleming, A., ... & Moynahan, K. (2019). Too Many Hats? Conflicts of Interest in Learning Community Faculty Roles.  Journal of Medical Education and Curricular Development 6 , 2382120519827890.

Johansson, E., & Emilson, A. (2016). Conflicts and resistance: potentials for democracy learning in preschool.  International Journal of Early Years Education 24 (1), 19-35.

Luke, A. (2018). Genres of power: Literacy education and the production of capital. In  Critical Literacy, Schooling, and Social Justice  (pp. 161-185). Routledge.

Paradis, E., & Whitehead, C. R. (2015). Louder than words: power and conflict in interprofessional education articles, 1954–2013.  Medical Education 49 (4), 399-407.

Rahim, M. A. (2017).  Managing conflict in organizations . London: Routledge.

Rispens, S., & Demerouti, E. (2016). Conflict at work, negative emotions, and performance: A diary study.  Negotiation and Conflict Management Research 9 (2), 103-119.

Tedeschi, J. T. (2017).  Conflict, power, and games: The experimental study of interpersonal relations . London: Routledge.

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