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Do I Need to Handle this Conflict? A Mini Case Study

Conflict ResolutionConsider this situation:

Two of your employees, Susan and Jack, are struggling with a difficult technical problem. Susan describes an approach to Jack for solving the technical problem that she finds compelling. “Doesn’t that make sense to you?” she asks, hoping that he is persuaded by her logic and will agree with her on the best approach to solve the problem.

“You make a good case,” agrees Jack, “but I think you’ve overlooked a critical piece of information. Did you see the information provided on some of the technical support forums?  It appears that what you are describing may be too risky. I don’t think it is the best approach for us.”

“Yes, I did see that information,” Susan replied. “But the situation is not quite the same as the one we are dealing with. I really believe the approach I am describing is the best one to solve the problem and move us forward.”

They argue back and forth, each of them adding more information to support his or her position and referring to a variety of technical support forums. Each one considers the other’s perspective, but they continue to see the problem differently and have not yet arrived at a solution that that they can agree to. However, they continue to talk about the options.

The manager’s thoughts:

The manager, Allen, has been closely monitoring the situation. In his opinion, there is no conflict yet.

Allen is correct.

Both Susan and Jack are working through the issue. True, they have not yet agreed on a course of action, but the conversation is moving forward. Intervening now would not make sense. Should this situation become heated and the two individuals are no longer listening to each other, then Allen should intervene to help them resolve it. At that point, it will become a conflict. Certainly if they continue to not be able to reach a decision, Allen might intervene to help them do so in order to move forward the project.