The first step in the conflict process is the presence of conditions that create opportunities for conflict to arise. They need not lead directly to conflict, but one of these conditions is necessary if conflict is to surface. For simplicity’s sake, these conditions (which also may be looked at as causes or sources of conflict) have been condensed into three general categories: communication structure, and personal variables.
Communication: Sashi had worked in supply chain management at BMS Ltd., for 3 years. She enjoyed her work in large part because her boss, Mr.Kant was a great guy to work for. Then Kant got promoted 6 months ago and Bhandari took his place. Sashi says her job is a lot more frustrating now. Kant and she were on the same wavelength. It’s not that way with Bhandari. He tells Sashi something and when she does it he tells her she did it wrong. Sashi thinks boss means one thing but says something else. It has been like this since the day he arrived. Sashi thinks there is no day which goes by when boss is not yelling at her for something or the other. You know, there are some people you just find it easy to communicate with. Well, it seems Bhandari is not one of those.
Sashi’s comments illustrates that communication can be a source of conflict They represent the opposing forces that arise from semantic difficulties, misunderstandings and noise in the communications channels.
A review of the research suggest that differing word connotations, jargon, insufficient exchange of information, and noise in the communication channel are all barriers to communication and potential antecedent conditions to conflict. Evidence demonstrates that semantic difficulties arise as a result of differences in training, selective perception and inadequate information about others. Research has further demonstrated a surprising finding. The potential for conflict increases when either too little or too much communication takes place. Apparently an increase in communications is functional up to a point whereupon it is possible to over communicate with a resultant increase in the potential for conflict. Too much information as well as too little can lay the foundation for conflict.
Furthermore, the channel for communication can have an influence on stimulating opposition. The filtering process that occurs as information is passed between members and the divergence of communications from formal or previously established channels offer potential opportunities for conflict to arise.
Structure: D and U both work at the Indore Furniture Mart – a large discount furniture retailer. D is a salesperson on the floor; U is the company’s credit manager. The two women have known each other for years and have much in common – they live within few blocks of each other, and their oldest daughters attend the same model school and are best friends. In reality if D and U had different jobs they might be best friends themselves, but these two women are consistently fighting battles with each other. D’s job is to sell furniture and she does a heck of a job. But most of her sales are made on credit. Because U’s job is to make sure the company minimizes credit losses, she regularly has to turn down the credit application of a customer with whom D had just closed a sale. It is nothing personal between D and U – the requirements of their jobs bring them into conflict.
The conflicts between Charlotte and Teri are structural in nature. The term structure is used, in this context, to include variables such as size, degree of specialization in the tasks assigned to group members, jurisdictional clarity, member-goal compatibility, leadership styles, reward systems and the degree of dependence between groups.