Posts by Matt Dreger

Polarization and Conflict

During recent months heated exchanges that have been highlighted in the media have led some to describe a “coarsening” of our national discourse. The conflicts seem to point to polarization that could make collaboration unachievable. In Becoming a Conflict Competent Leader, Tim Flanagan and Craig Runde introduced the concept of “intensity levels” of conflict. On the lower end differences and misunderstandings are part of our normal experience and can be overcome by taking time to listen carefully to one another.  When these are not managed they can grow into disagreements which require more effort to resolve. When conflict is avoided or… Continue Reading Polarization and Conflict
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Categories: Communication and Behavior and Uncategorized.

How We Describe Conflict

When doing a program on conflict management, I’ll often ask people what words come to mind when they think about conflict.  Typically responses include: frustrating, stressful, anger, upset, fear, and anxiety.  Participants, when asked to characterize their responses, almost always describe them as negative.  At the same time they almost always give a few words that could be viewed as positive such as: opportunity, growth, and resolution. From 2003-2005 we asked people being certified in the Conflict Dynamics Profile to share words that described conflict for them.  They shared over 170 words which depicted a wide range of attitudes towards… Continue Reading How We Describe Conflict
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Categories: Communication and Behavior, Practitioners, Research, and Uncategorized.

Generational Conflict

A couple of recent items caught our attention about generational conflict. Deanna Hartley addressed the subject in an article in the November issue of Talent Management entitled “How to Resolve Generational Conflicts in the Workplace.” In her article Ms. Hartley emphasized the misunderstandings that emerge when people from different generations make assumptions about one another and when they expect people from other generations to necessarily share their own values. Dr. Rick Voyles presented on the subject at the Southeastern Summit on Conflict Resolution in Atlanta in September. In his talk Rick contrasted the values of people in the Boomer and Gen X generations. He showed how… Continue Reading Generational Conflict
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Categories: Communication and Behavior, Culture, and Uncategorized.

The Value of Managing Conflict Effectively

  Organizations want to know what kind of return on investment can come from improving their managers’ and employees’ ability to handle conflict effectively. It is a similar question to those asked about other types of training. In the case of conflict, the answer is easier to give. Cost Savings The Mediation Training Institute’s Organizational Cost of Conflict Measure provides an excellent tool for analyzing the out of pocket costs of conflict ( It categorizes a number of cost factors related to conflict and provides a means of estimating these costs for an organization. Some of the key costs include managerial… Continue Reading The Value of Managing Conflict Effectively
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Categories: Cost of Conflict, Practitioners, and Uncategorized.