Last Updated 27 May 2020

Assertive and cooperative

Essay type Process
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Competing (assertive and uncooperative) – When one person seeks to satisfy his or her own interests, regardless of the impact on the other parties to the conflict, that person is competing. Competing is when you, for example, win a bet and your opponent loses. Collaborating (assertive and cooperative) – When the parties to conflict each desire to fully satisfy the concerns of all parties, there is cooperation and a search for a mutually beneficial outcome.

In collaborating, the intention of the parties is to solve a problem by clarifying differences rather than by accommodating various points of view. If you attempt to find a win/win solution that allows both parties’ goals to be completely achieved, that is collaborating. Avoiding (unassertive and uncooperative) – A person may recognize that a conflict exists and want to withdraw from it or suppress it. Examples of avoiding include trying to just ignore a conflict and avoiding others with whom you disagree.

Accommodating (unassertive and cooperative) – When one party seeks to appease an opponent, that party may be willing to place the opponent’s interests above his or her own. In other words, in order for the relationship to be maintained, one party needs to be willing to be self-sacrificing. This intention is referred to as accommodating. Supporting someone else’s opinion despite your reservations about it, for example, would represent accommodating.

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Compromising (mid-range on both assertiveness and cooperativeness) – When each party to a conflict seeks to give up something, sharing occurs, resulting in a compromised outcome. In compromising, there is no clear winner or loser. Rather, there is willingness to ration the object of the conflict and accept a solution that provides incomplete satisfaction of both parties’ concerns. The distinguishing characteristic of compromising, therefore, is that each party intends to give up something.

Negotiation. Negotiation permeates the interactions of almost everyone in groups and organizations. There’s the obvious: labour bargains with management, and there’s the not-so-obvious: Managers negotiate with employees, peers, and bosses. We can define negotiation as a process in which two or more parties exchange goods or services and attempt to agree on the exchange rate for them. There are two general approaches to negotiation, distributive bargaining and integrative bargaining.

The most identifying feature of distributive bargaining is that it operates under zero-sum conditions. That is, any gain I make is at your expense and vice versa. The most widely cited example of distributive bargaining is in labour management negotiations over wages. Typically, labour’s representatives come to the bargaining table determined to get as much money as possible out of management. Because every cent more that labour negotiates increases management’s costs, each party bargains aggressively and treats the other as an opponent who must be defeated.

Integrative bargaining operates under the assumption that there are one or more settlements that can create a win/win solution. In terms of intraorganizational behaviour, all things being equal, integrative bargaining is preferable to distributive bargaining. This is because the former builds long-term relationships. It bonds negotiators and allows them to leave the bargaining table feeling that they have achieved a victory. Distributive bargaining, however, leaves one party a loser. It tends to build animosities and deepen divisions when people have to work together on an ongoing basis.

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