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Approaches to Resolving Conflicts Report

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Updated: May 28th, 2020

Approaches to Resolving Conflicts

First, the approach is supposed to produce a wise agreement that is if there is a possibility of an agreement. A wise agreement should ensure that the interests of both parties have been attained to the best possible limits. This is in addition to attempting to give fair solutions to conflicting interests, as well as being long lasting and considering the interests of the bigger community (Fisher, Ury and Patton 1991, p.4).

Schmidt’s interests were that he wanted the museum to be the leading in the Midwest and to be among the top five nationally. This would call for extensive fund raising and media coverage. This made him to be focused on generating more funds, hiring excellent curators and, acquiring and showing the most outstanding art work.

On the other hand, Smith’s desire on the other hand was for the MCA to expand its scope in the number of hosted artists and audience base. He was prepared to team up with his wife to donate funds that would facilitate the expansion of the facility. These were varying interests and it would cost the museum facility a great deal if they were all to be met.

Therefore, instead of the lack of agreement on these interests drawing them apart, they should have accessed the possibility of at least meeting some from each side at a cost that the museum facility can afford at the time. The practicality of meeting all of one person’s interests may just be as unpractical as meeting the demands of both the parties.

However, a mutual agreement should be reached to an extent where each party feels involved. Apart from ensuring the interests of each party have been represented to a given extent, it should also aim at providing fair solutions to conflicting interests.

For instance, whereas Schmidt is particularly preoccupied with the quality of the services offered by the facility, Smith is more concerned with the quantity in terms of the capacity of the structure and the number of participants.

These are two conflicting interests. To reach at a common ground, there should be fairness to ensure that interests from each side have been thoroughly compared, rationally analyzed and fairly adopted based on the organization’s ability to implement and sustain them at that period.

For the resolution to be wise, it should also be long lasting in the sense that after negotiating the interests that are held by both the chairman and director of the museum facility, a decision should only be reached at based on sustainability of the interest that is likely to be implemented. Moreover, a wise resolution should prioritize the interests of the organization, and not those of individuals.

Therefore, in resolving the conflicting interests of the two museum leaders, the entire museum facility’s interests should preside over those that are personal. This can be reached at after an in-depth scrutiny of each interest. In addition, disputing over pockets is unwise. It may only serve to generate more heat than light as the parties tend to be confined within their positions.

Schmidt talks with defensive connotations to his docket as both the professional manager and leader of the museum facility. He terms Peter’s concerns as intrusive and thus turns purely defensive.

Smith on other hand strongly defends his chairmanship, thinks that Keith’s suggestions are fiscally unsound, and feels that he is the final authority who must therefore have the final word in all matters pertaining to the organization. This focus on their positions closes the window for any wise negotiation on the museum’s agenda making them not be able to resolve anything.

Secondly, the approach should be efficient. An argument that is centered over positions is not efficient. This is because it creates incentives that increase the difficulty of reaching at a consensus. Positional bargaining enables one to improve the probability of any decision arrived at favoring them.

This enabled them to start with a hardliner stand, stubbornly clinging on it and deceiving the other party as to your certain views and by making minor compromises, just to keep the negotiation flowing. This applies to the other party too. Each of these aspects interferes with arriving at a consensus quickly.

The time it takes to agree on any argument is determined by the size of the concessions and the extremeness of the opening stands. The two leaders of the museum facility start with extreme defense of their positions which none of them is willing to shed off from their perspectives of resolving the conflict at hand. Eventually, we see the conflict remaining unsolved.

Thirdly, a good conflict resolution approach should not damage the relationships of the parties involved. Positional bargaining normally encourages rivalry of wills. Each party tends to put across what he will or will not do. For instance, Smith feels that he is the final authority and is unwilling to let Keith air his concerns on the facility’s matters.

Keith on the other hand sees Smith as an intruder and is unwilling to negotiate with him over what he believes to be right. In the long run, Peter Smith exits the organization when he realizes that his point of view has been thwarted. His relationship could not have continued being the way it was prior to the resolution because of the positional bargaining that the conflict was centered about.

Implementing a Collaborative Strategy

In most organizations, decisions affecting the running of the organizations are often reached at collectively and rarely unilaterally. Making decisions as a team of two or more people ensures that there is objectivity, broad perspectives, as well as thorough analysis of all necessary factors that may be required to be considered before implementing any strategy.

To carry out an effective strategy implementation, the parties involved are supposed to have known each other for quite some time, be of similar philosophy if possible, be united, have a clear understanding of one another, be of the same vision and share similar goals and objectives.

A good example is that of Peter and Catherine Smith. Their friends have always seen them as united, they have known each other for a long time, both have careers in the legal sector, and are both interested in collection of art works.

When Peter is joins the museum board, we see the two determined to make donations that can enlarge the facility’s capacity. Implementing this strategy will therefore be easy since the two have been together long enough to ensure that trust and unity has been established.

The opposite of Peter and Catherine is vividly seen in the case of Smith and Keith. The two have worked in different places before, gained different experiences and do not trust each other. They have not worked together long enough to understand one another. They have rivalry of interests, which makes them fail to agree on implementation of their interests. Each of them is preoccupied with his position.

They have diverse goals and objectives, which stifles agreement on implementation of some of the organization’s strategies. Additionally, asking questions is also important before implementing any collective strategy.

For example, when Keith comes up with a proposal to expand both staffing and office space, Smith asks several questions, just for clarification and also to allow for objective and broader analysis of Keith’s proposals. The same is also seen when Fischer is chairing the board in determining what should be done the case of Smith’s unhonoured pledge.

She seeks the opinions of other members, which finally results to a more balanced conclusion on the matter. Moreover, apart from discussing the proposed strategy as a team, it is important not to impose it on members but to let the majority have their say. The decision to adopt Keith’s ideas is reached at by the majority of board members.

A democratic approach effectively works in implementing a collective strategy. In addition, a collaborative strategy should only be implemented when all necessary preparations are in place. For example, the new building should not have been put up before all pledges were collected.

Where does power come from?

From the ongoing case, it is evident that power comes from one’s aggression ability, a degree of one’s relationship with others, the position, and experience occupied by someone. Peter Smith is elected as the chairman after his lobbying to make the museum facility expand its capacity for artists and audience. He also expressed his generosity and ability to support the museum fiscally through donation.

He had also been within the museum for a long time during which he had supported it. Both Keith and Smith use their positions as platforms to wield power. Smith asserts his final authority on financial matters of the organization as its chairman. Keith on other part draws his power from his twelve-year experience during which he has been working as a director.

This makes him feel like the overall leader and manager and regards Smith’s opinion as intrusive. Finally, power emanates from a positive rapport that one has developed with others. Fischer is able to coordinate other board members into coming up with non-heated balanced resolutions due to the positive relationship that she has established with each one of them.

Harnessing the Science of Persuasion and its six principles

Persuasion is an aspect that is applicable at almost all levels in the society especially in leadership and management. To tap into the power of persuasion, there are some principles that ought to be embraced. First, there is the principle of liking (Cialdini, 2001, p.3). Research shows that people will tend to like those who like them.

Developing a good relationship and praising people has in most cases been seen as ways of making them feel liked which makes it easy to persuade them into making a given decision. Fischer’s good relationship with board members makes them persuade her into not treating Peter’s failure to honor his pledge legally. Peter’s good relationship with most board members also makes them make a decision in his favor.

Secondly, there is the principal of reciprocity. Managers should model the behavior they want to see from others (Cialdini, 2001, p.4). This is whether it is an element of trust, cooperation, or attractive demeanor. Fischer’s support to the museum and her good rapport with other board members make her receive maximum support and cooperation from them when it comes to deliberating on essential facility agenda.

The next principle is authority. Research shows that a display of someone’s expertise makes them have an upper hand when it comes to implementing some decisions. For example, Keith’s experience and ability to come up with balanced sheets portrayed his expertise. That could have had a lot of impact when they were voting against him or Smith since he got the majority’s support.

Fourthly, there is the principle of social proof that suggests that people are influenced by what their peers do. There is a lot of peer influence from Rich Steiner’s objection towards filing a law suit against the Smiths. His position influences that of John Stuart, Lee and Fischer.

The fifth principle is consistency. People would in most cases not just be satisfied by merely liking you but also by feeling committed to what you would like them to accomplish. For instance, it is true that Fischer is liked by most of her board members. However, most of them feel satisfied with her leadership because she gives them an opportunity to air their views on most of the matters that affect the museum facility.

They feel obligated to contribute to the decision making of the organization because their perspectives are appreciated. Through this, Fischer is able to persuade them into participating efficiently.

Lastly, there is the principle of scarcity which requires managers to present offers not in terms of what employees stand to benefit, but in terms of what they stand to drop incase they do not take initiative on the information. For instance, as one of the board members suggests, it is not prudent to take Smith’s matter legally because the museum might lose a lot financially in trying to implement such a strategy.

Can’t Beat Them? Then Join a Coalition

If decisions cannot be reached at from a personal perspective, it is always prudent to make them collectively. For instance, Keith and Smith could not define the fate of their interests since they were ever in dispute and could not therefore agree.

This is why, in a bid to seek popularity, Keith approaches Richard Lang whom he shares his concerns with. Smith on the other hand approaches Jennifer Lee to try and form a coalition against the director.

Building and Maintaining Coalitions

Coalitions are teams of people or organizations that function together to achieve a certain objective (Ayer and Bunn, 2004, p.2). Coalitions serve to provide people with safety, credibility, a chance to increase public support, improve decision making and provide an opportunity to empower the civil society. Building a lasting coalition requires trust, respect and a commitment to doing things as a team.

The coalition between Peter and Catherine is a good example of this. Because it is established on respect, trust and commitment, we do not see it fading. The two even leave the organization together. Also, Smith’s coalition with Jennifer Lee is maintained since in the latest meeting with the new chairperson, she is strongly opposed to filing a legal suit against him.

The coalition between smith and Keith in the management of the museum could not have worked due to the absence of trust and respect. However, Fischer’s coalition with other board members is likely to last because it is founded on sustainable ingredients.

Doing things collaboratively

Working together as a coalition requires commitment. There should be regular meetings that will enable all members be enlightened, participate and be motivated. An effective decision making process is also required for a coalition to work.

This should be based on democracy and equality. In addition, there should be good communication to enable members exchange information freely, promptly and effectively. All these aspects are vividly captured in the way Fischer is leading the museum.

When and how to Use Third Party help

Occasionally, third party help is essential in dealing with some issues that pertain to the organization. However, a third party should be involved under special circumstances.

One is when there extreme disagreement between members like the case of Smith and Keith. In another case, where there is an issue that is beyond the control of the organization, legal intervention is necessitated, like in the case of Smith’s disappearance before honoring his pledge.


Ayer, V. and Bunn, C. (2004). Advocacy Expert Series: Building and Maintaining Coalitions. Web.

Cialdini, R. B. (2001). Harnessing the Science of Persuasion. Web.

Fisher, R. Ury, W. and Patton, B. (1991). . New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. Web.

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