Conflict Negotiation in Engineering Project Teams Advanced Interpersonal Effectiveness

Conflict Negotiation
Engineering Project Teams
Advanced Interpersonal Effectiveness
Interpersonal Effectiveness
Learning Objectives
Understanding conflicts that affect the
team process
Ability to handle team conflicts
Knowledge of negotiation
Improved communication through
deeper exposure to ways of listening
“Conflict is a form of
interaction among parties
that differ in interest,
perceptions, and preferences.”
(Osland, J.S., Kolb, D. A., & Rubin, I. M., 2001)
Exercise: Your Experience
of Team Conflict
Factual Situation
Effects on Team Member(s)
How was It Handled?
Effects of Resolution on Team Member(s)
Why Conflict Management?
Teams in engineering involve both interpersonal
and technical competencies
Members’ skills differ in both technical tasks
and interpersonal relationship management
These differences can result in conflict that
impacts the successful completion of the
Projects often are endangered because of
feuding team members!
Topics Covered in Intermediate
Constructive vs. destructive conflict
Types of intragroup conflict
Conflict management styles
Collaborative style
XYZ Model
Summary of Intermediate
No team can function without some level of conflict
Being comfortable in dealing with conflict will
increase the productivity/creativity of the team
and lead to a better engineering product
We discussed:
Reality of conflict and the need to resolve it
Intervening: conflict management styles
XYZ model of responding to conflicts
Summary (cont.)
Handling special cases of conflict:
Although conflict always involves emotions at
some level, strategies for solving the situation
require cognitive skills (diagnosis, problem
solving, leadership) and some degree of risk
Conflict Management is a transferable skill that
can be used beyond the team setting: LEARN
“Team” Conflict
Some conflicts escalate to the level where
the successful functioning of the team is
This module starts to address ways of
resolving those conflicts and learning
from them.
Conventional Responses
The following conventional responses
could appear to address the conflict but
may not be effective:
Withdrawal, staying silent
 Denial
 Dominance
 Suppression
 Placate
How is the Conflict Manifested
in the Team?
Once you have identified a team conflict,
determine how the conflict is manifested
(and how it needs to be resolved):
Attitudes: almost always poor
 Behaviors: unreliable, inconsistent
 Structural: team infrastructure is not
working (meetings, communication
frequency, jobs)
Exercise: Solutions to Conflict
Take one of the conflicts that you listed
before and ask yourself:
• Was it due to attitudes, behaviors, or
• How did you handle the conflict?
• Who were the parties who developed
the solution ?
• How did they contribute?
Intervention’s goal is to disrupt the conflict
evidenced by unproductive attitudes, behaviors,
and structure
First attempts at conflict resolution should take
place between team members (i.e., peers)
Positive effects include:
The project gets back on track and the team process is
realigned for success
Team members develop skills for handling projectthreatening conflicts
As discussed previously, there are many
appropriate techniques for peer-to-peer
interventions that can be used to handle
conflict including the XYZ model and
collaborative conflict resolution.
• When these actions fail, deadlock may occur
and third party intervention is necessary.
Third Party Intervention
Deadlock is a special case of conflict: the team
has come to a grinding HALT3
Ignoring the deadlock is NOT an option, so new
intervention strategies are needed
Negotiation (the subject of this module)
Ruling from a higher authority
Definition: It is the process of finding an
agreement that is satisfactory to all of the
groups/individuals involved.
It is used to ensure a “win-win” situation.
Negotiation is best when it includes the
members in conflict and peers who are
stakeholders in the process
Or, a third party may be called when ongoing
conflict resolution/negotiation does not work
among the team members .
Characteristics of a Successful
It should:
Be timely and effective with the parties
 Produce an agreement that results in a
resolution of the conflict and a revitalized
team process
 Improve the relationships between the
individuals, strengthening the team
Negotiation Skills
When negotiating, all parties must4:
• Separate the team members from the
• Articulate own objectives and desired
resolution of the issue
• Listen to everyone involved. Discuss the
specifics of the issue
• Acknowledge other points-of-view
Negotiation Skills
In “Principled” Negotiation2,a negotiator should:
Help the parties develop objective criteria for solutions
Separate the members from the issue – be tough on the
issue not the members.
Focus on the issue not the different viewpoints.
Develop different solutions that are satisfactory to all.
Think about the consequences of the decision among team
members and outside the team.
Do not just try to win. Work on finding an acceptable
resolution for all involved.
Negotiation - Challenges
Challenges that may impact the negotiation
may include:5
• A re-statement of confrontational positions
• Personal agendas that are not acknowledged
• Psychological and emotional makeup of team
members, including their past conflict
management styles
• Communication breakdown due to language
barriers or misunderstanding or…
When Negotiation Fails
A negotiation process may not lead to
consensus within the time allowed
Resolution of the problem is still required,
so the team moves to another form of
intervention (i.e., arbitration or external
Remember: it’s okay to request instructor
intervention if team facilitated
interventions are not successful
Choosing to Continue
Conflict resolution and negotiation may
The team must choose
What team consequences to impose on
the uncooperative member(s)
 How to continue project progress
The terms of continuing to work as a team
should be clear to all parties
Conflict Negotiation Summary
Knowing how to identify team conflict ensures
that mitigating actions can be taken
• Conflict resolution strategies allow teams to
overcome deadlock
• Negotiation is a preferred intervention so that
team members become comfortable with
these skills
• Negotiation failure does not mean the project
is abandoned: the team must go on
Optional Slides:
Practicing Negotiation Skills
To be an effective ‘principled’ negotiator
you need to be effective in the arena of
This section coaches you regarding
pitfalls and practices for effective
Most people worry about what they are going
to say, but to be a effective negotiator….
Listening is more important than speaking
How you listen has the power to affect how it turns
How are you listening?
What you already know?
What can be created?
Reactive Listening
What is this this type of listening?
• What you know about the people and the
process to date
• Allows pre-conceived notions to color
Test for reactive listening: Are you coming into
the negotiation with a fixed viewpoint or one
specific outcome you think must occur?
Proactive Listening
What is this listening like?
You need to listen the possibilities beyond the
words being said
What is offered in partial solution to the problem or
in movement toward your position?
Why would other members hold fast to certain
positions and not offer compromises?
What are your unshakeable positions and why are
you holding to them?
Proactive Listening
A new level of relationship/appreciation
Can you discover something new about them or yourself you
didn’t know before?
A new possibility for the project
Is there something about why you/they are together that
inspires you/them?
A new way of working together
A new way that you can organize yourselves?
What is possible that you or they didn’t come in with.
Exercise #1
Pair up
One of you (A) picks a part of the project that
you are really excited about which you will
share with your partner
The other partner (B) will listen from a “reactive”
For example, interact like you ‘already know’ about
what they want to say
(A) shares for two minutes, then stop and
discuss what that was like (Make sure you do
the exercise, do not bailout early)
• Then switch
• Group sharing on what you observed
Exercise #2
Pair up
One of you (A) picks a part of the project that
you are really excited about which you will
share with your partner
The other partner (B) will listen from a
“proactive” place
For example, what is possible that you didn’t know before
or an appreciation of the other person
(A) shares for two minutes, then stop and
discuss what that was like (Make sure you do
the exercise, do not bailout early)
Then switch
Group sharing on what you observed
When conflicts escalate to the level of
affecting the total team they …
When a team cannot resolve it’s own
issues, a negotiator can provide a role
to resolve the conflict
There are ways of listening that are
powerful for discovering solutions
Conflict Resolution and
Negotiation: References
1 Osland, J.S., Kolb, D.A., & Rubin, I. M. (2001) The
Organizational Behavior Reader (7th ed.). Englewood
Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
2 Osland, J.S., Kolb, D.A., & Rubin, I.M. (2001).
Organizational Behavior (7th ed.). Englewood Cliffs,
NJ: Prentice Hall.