Steen, A., & Shinkai, K. (2019). Understanding individual and gender differences in conflict resolution: A critical leadership skill. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, 1-4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijwd.2019.06.002
Background & Theory
The purpose of this article is to evaluate the differences regarding conflict when it comes to specific perspectives of each individual involved. Drs. Steen and Shinkai provide and evaluate a specific example throughout the article, providing insight from previous research, models, and schools of thought.
Drs. Steen and Shinkai explore the following questions in their article:
- What factors should leaders take into consideration when addressing and resolving conflict?
- How can leaders learn from models and concepts regarding conflict and use these to address conflict?
The authors looked into their questions through the evaluation of a specific hypothetical situation and the unique factors to each of the three perspectives involved in the conflict. They evaluated factors such as gender, age/generation, and family roles through the lens of previously existing concepts (the Ladder of Inference and Thomas-Kilmann Patterns of Response models).
The results show that when addressing conflict, each person’s unique perspective needs to be taken into account and evaluated when aiming to find a positive solution. Each person has an interest and position, and understanding these and using them in the context of addressing conflict will be very helpful.
There are typically five ways to handle conflict based on the Thomas-Kilmann Patterns of Response: avoiding, defeating, compromising, accommodating, and collaborating. Each of these can be useful, but tying in the interest and position of each involved party is necessary when sorting through which response is required. This information is critical for all leaders to know.
What This Means
- For everyone, but in particular, those in leadership, understanding the individual facets that cause conflict and how people are likely to respond to it is critical when addressing it.
- Resolving conflict is a skill and each unique conflict and perspective needs to be evaluated before a specific route is chosen.
For consultants: Consider the individual factors and perspectives that are present in the disputants you work with. When the interest and position of each can be identified and the most useful response to address the conflict is chosen, a much more peaceful and long-lasting solution can be found.
For everyone: When you are involved in a conflict with one or more persons, try to understand things from their perspectives. You may still have some differences, but you can likely find a positive way to skillfully address the matter and come to a more reasonable solution when you all have a better understanding of each other’s perspectives and values.