Continuum of Conflict Management Approaches

Conflict management on the other hand refers to the process of identifying conflicts early, and dealing with them in a sensible, consultative and fair manner. The process involves the use of such skills as effective communication, analytical kills, problem solving and negotiation skills and a critical focus on areas of interest for all parties involved (Moore, 2003). With conflicts ranging from interpersonal disagreements, disagreements in organizations and work places, team conflicts to tribal and racial conflicts either over natural resources, over ideological and religious persuasions among other reasons, many scholars, state governments and welfare organizations have invested enormously in resolution and management options. There are many scholarly materials on management and resolution of different types of conflicts, giving pre-eminence to natural resource and governance conflicts, since they are the most prevalent forms of conflicts across the globe. Others focus purely on small magnitude conflicts involving individuals, families, teams and small groupings in work places, sporting arena or collages. Whether small disagreements between individuals, internal conflicts in a state, a country or international conflicts, resolution and management strategies are universal, varying only in the manner of their application, this is case specific. Among the many strategies formulated by different scholars and experts in the field, is the conflict management continuum presented in 2003 by Moore, offering management approaches that range from avoidance of conflicts on one end to violence on the other extreme end. According to Moore in the continuum, avoidance on the left end presents the soft form of conflict management, with the subsequent strategies becoming increasingly progressive, directive and eventually coercive towards violence at the right end of the continuum. The continuum consists of seven different means of conflict management divided into four sub categories. These categories include informal decision making by conflicting parties, under which there are three means namely conflict avoidance, negotiation and mediation. The next category is the informal third party decision- making, which involves resolution of conflicts by use of arbitration. The third category is legal authoritarian third party decision-making, which involves adjudication through legal court processes. Finally, there is extralegal coerced decision-making category, which includes non-violent direct action and violence at the right end of the continuum. Conflict avoidance refers to a style of conflict management that uses non-confrontational means to resolving problems. Common strategies under this approach include passive behaviours like withdrawing from contentious issues, especially if the issues are not very important to warrant confrontations. It is particularly useful in avoiding conflicting situations in work places, homes and other similar places where genuine errors, slight misunderstandings or differences in perceptions and opinions occur often. Either party choose to avoid engaging in arguments and conflicting situations especially if the resultant negative consequences outweigh positive outcomes offered by a quick proactive resolution. This technique is particularly useful in situations that require additional information on the contentious issue in order to make clearer decisions. The major flaw of this strategy is that it may form a favourable environment for the conflict to grow