What does the military have in common with farmers and ranchers? Outside the similarities of a shared passion for servitude, putting the needs and well-being of others (animal or human) before ourselves and often incomprehensible levels of dedication, we still see one stark commonality—the need for effective conflict management.Running a farm or ranch can often feel like a recipe for conflict. We don’t always see eye to eye with our spouses and children, usually better known as business partners and/or employees in this capacity. Stressful situations between neighbors can quickly escalate to major conflicts if not handled properly. As farmers and ranchers, we consistently feel pressured by outside influences to respond to new demands about how we raise our livestock, grow crops and manage natural resources and wildlife populations.
Knowing how to properly manage conflict can be the difference between success and failure. Identifying common sources of conflict, understanding common styles to managing conflict and awareness of situational factors are all key to effective conflict resolution. Major Peter Shinn, Executive Office of the 101st Air and Space Operations Group shares the proven approach to conflict management taught to future Air Force officers at the USAF Officer Training School.
The first step toward effectively resolving conflict is to understand a few common sources of conflict.
Sources of Conflict
Personal differences. These are influenced by personal experiences and tend to be emotionally charged.
Information deficiencies. Often instructions given to those responsible for projects or daily jobs are interpreted differently because there isn’t enough information given.
Role incompatibility. An example we all relate too are situations where government representatives are working with landowners; their roles and responsibilities may create conflict.
Differing values and goals. In these cases you need a common superior to mediate.
Environmental stress. This stress can be caused by shortage of resources and uncertainty.
Conflicts of interest. May lead to one party in a situation to act in a way that causes conflict.
Over-dependence. Depending too much on one person in a project or in a job causes conflict, especially for others if that person leaves the job or project.
Need for consensus. The process involved in gaining consensus may lead to conflict. People have differing opinions and sometimes feel strongly about them. If the outcome is dependent on group consensus, be prepared for some level of conflict.
Behavior regulation. Sometimes behavioral regulations in your work environment naturally lead to conflict. For instance, you may be in a subordinate role where you are expected to modify your behavior and the lack of free expression of opinions causes conflict with your superior.
Unresolved prior conflicts. If conflict is not managed, resentment will often arise and this will often lead to further conflict. We have all been in situations where we are working with individuals who have “bad blood” between them and that can easily spread to others in the work environment.
Major Shinn also shared five primary conflict management styles and when to use them.
Five Management Styles