Thursday, 13 February 2014

How to Collaborate

Different strategies for dealing with conflict
Avoidance, accommodation, competition, compromise and collaboration are the five usual ways of dealing with conflict.
Avoidance is very commonly used, and involves avoiding the person or the situation involved in the conflict. This method isn’t usually helpful as nothing is resolved, but it may be necessary if you feel too vulnerable to cope with the situation
Accommodation is where you ‘submit’ to the conflict, e.g. by listening to unhelpful criticism and believing it. If you have low self-esteem you are more likely to use this method. Like avoidance, it is not a very successful method of resolving issues. It could be used if you know a solution is coming soon from an outside source
Competition is where the conflict becomes a ‘fight’, e.g. a colleague tells your manager you’ve been leaving early, so you retaliate by telling your manager that they’ve been stealing supplies. This often leads to the conflict escalating. It also means you are lowering yourself to the other person’s level
Compromise is where you work out a solution where you both ‘give a little’, e.g. if your colleague wants help with their project, you offer to help them with half of it. This is a more useful strategy but it can leave both parties feeling a little disappointed
Collaboration is where you commit to working together to arrive at a solution that is acceptable to both of you - a ‘win-win’ situation. This method is explained in more detail below.

How to collaborate
Collaboration can feel risky as it involves being very clear about your needs and having an open conversation with the other person to try and understand their point of view. To collaborate successfully, you need to:
Recognize that part of the responsibility for the conflict is your own. You may have avoided addressing the conflict earlier, or you may have reasons for your position that you haven’t been open about. Taking responsibility for this may encourage the other person to do the same.
Learn how to manage yourself during the conversation, e.g. how to relax if you are likely to become angry, or how to be more assertive if you lack confidence. It might help to have a third person present for your conversation. Getting emotional during the conversation is unlikely to be helpful.
Have confidence in what you are saying. Make sure this comes across by maintaining eye contact, having positive body language and not sitting while the other person is standing.
Try to focus on the behaviour and not on the person, e.g. ‘I find it difficult to concentrate when you talk loudly’ rather than ‘you’re such an awful gossip’.
Try and find out why the other person feels the way they do – if you can understand each other’s reasons then you’ll be more likely to come up with a solution that suits both of you.
Remember that people who enjoy creating conflict are often re-enacting difficulties from their lives previously – seeing their behaviour in this way may help you to be empathetic and will mean the conflict is more likely to be resolved.

Conflict Resolution

Thomas (1976) proposes that each of the five management styles identified may be effective depending on the situation. In fact, he matches the five conflict management styles with the appropriate situation as follows:


- When the issue is trivial
- When the costs outweigh the benefits of resolution
- To let the situation cool down
- When getting more information is imperative
- When others can solve the problem more effectively
- When the problem is a symptom rather than a cause


- When the objectives are important, but not worth the effort or potential disruption likely to result from assertive behaviour
- When there is a "standoff"
- To gain temporary settlements to complex problems
- To expedite action when time is important
- When collaboration or competition fails


- When quick, decisive action is essential, as in emergencies
- When critical issues require unpopular action, as in cost cutting
- When issues are vital to the welfare of the organization
- Against individuals who take unfair advantage of others


- When you find you have made a mistake
- When the issues are more important to others
- To build good will for more important matters
- To minimize losses when defeat is inevitable
- When harmony and stability are particularly important
- To allow subordinates a chance to learn from their mistakes


- When both sets of concerns are so important that only an integrative solution is acceptable; compromise is unsatisfactory
- When the goal is to learn
- To integrate insights from individuals with different perspectives
- When consensus and commitment are important
- To break through ill feelings that have hindered relationships (pp. 101, 102).

How to deal with the Work Programme

How to deal with the Work Programme (a Sociological Perspective):

This is the most common and natural reaction. The idea is that the problem will go away. It won't and not turning up for appointments will get you sanctioned and makes everything worse. The idea is the authority will pick on someone else. It is a short term psychological comfort zone and unsuccessful in practical terms.

Taking on board the rules and following like a mouse. This scheme might be highly successful but it is only suited to certain naive personalities. This can be very upsetting if the client follows the rules and then gets accused of not complying. Grounds for complaint then.

Fighting them every inch of the way and with your knowledge and their inadequacies you win your point. But it goes nowhere.

This I decided was the best way (second thoughts now) and I would agree in principle with the motives. This is the best solution, but tension occurs if the untrained (important point) adviser is punitive and does not want to play his part. Solution possible if there are sufficient jobs around.
Danger: if they change the rules. This would be grounds for complaint.

The power balance and rules do not allow this solution with an untrained adviser/negotiator. The client will get parked or sanctioned as unhelpful and will have to make his own way in the world. I think this would be the best option for me. Painful tension.


This is not out of my personal ken. I have seen this reaction when a person has a certain personality trait. It seems like a mental illness and they are out of control in a bad way. Some psychologists think this is even normal! The person committed suicide.
With clumsy incompetent behaviour of untrained advisors may quickly reach this situation.
They deal with released criminals and may themselves be in danger. Or the fellow clients at the WP could be in danger as well. There is no way of telling these nutters from their personal appearance.


There is an important rider. Some people who have a mental breakdown (for want of a better word) caused by abuse or trauma or head injury, brain illness, sustained bullying. This means that the "tough love" approach may exacerbate an underlying condition and cause a worsening of their life quality. These are hidden illnesses and are outside the scope of recruitment advisers.