A story of conflict…
I’m analyzing a topic about conflict. When you are against someone and there are visible signs of the conflict, what are the goals when clearly defined, what are the strategies that can be employed, and what are the possible results of each strategy?
I say this because it appears that many conflicts are approached with unclear or weak goals, and the strategies employed do not address the needs of either side effectively.
For instance, let’s consider that we have 2 people who must share a workspace. The space consists of one large desks and two chairs. The people are Avery and Mike. Avery used to supervise Mike’s work. At that time he demanded most of the desk space, and put whatever he wanted on the desk. He only allowed Mike to use the chair occasionally, and usually only when he had to do some important work for Avery. Mike had enough of the treatment and he sat in the middle of the desk. Avery couldn’t get his work done, and the supervisor was losing a lot of money.
The supervisor demanded that Avery must get Mike to start doing his work. Avery tried a few different methods, such as kicking Mike, pushing him, begging him, even offering to let him use his luxurious bathroom. Mike remained steady. This was not just about bathroom privileges. This was about respect and fairness. As a result, the supervisor decided that Mike will start getting better treatment. Mike was given a raise, and was allowed access to a little more of the desk than in years past. Avery did not like this. He had lost some of his workspace, even though he still had more than half. Plus, now Mike wasn’t sitting in his corner, so Avery called him “aggressive” when Mike said “I’m eating my lunch. I’ll finish the work after I finish my sandwich.” And when Mike said, “Move your coffee mug off my space, it put a coffee stain on the blueprints I have to submit later.”
Avery was furious and scared. “Would Mike take over a larger portion of the workspace? Hey I’m all for fairness, but if I let him have a fair 50% of this desk, how do I know he won’t seek revenge and demand a larger portion? He has a chair now! Why isn’t he more grateful?” Occasionally, Avery tried to go back to the way it used to be and tried to push or kick Mike, but Mike fought back, so Avery would go dormant for a while and then try again. Mike was fed up one day and slammed Avery into a wall. Avery screamed in fear, and the supervisor came in and saw the situation. Immediately he called Mike too aggressive and put him on probation. Mike didn’t want to lose his job, so even though it wasn’t fair, he went back to his desk and continued working.
Over the years, Avery and Mike developed a work flow. Avery continued to have more than 50% of the desk and more pay and benefits, but Mike felt he had at least fought and received a lot more than he used to under the old system. Retirement age was getting closer, and it was time to bring in interns to learn from Avery and Mike…
(to be continued)