Cognition and Personalization
In this stage, if the conditions cited in the previous stage affect negatively something that one party cares about, then the potential for opposition or incompatibility becomes actualized in the second stage. As noted earlier, in conflict, perception is required. Therefore, one or more of the parties must be conscious of the presence of the precursor conditions. However, conflict being ‘perceived conflict’ does not mean that it is personalized.
It is at the ‘felt conflict’ level, when individuals become emotionally involved, that parties experience anxiety, tension, frustration, or hostility. This stage is important because it is here that the parties determine what the conflict is about.
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Intentions intervene between people’s perceptions and emotions and their overt behaviour. Intentions are separated out as a separate stage because you have to understand the other’s aim to know how to respond to that other’s behaviour. A lot of conflicts are escalated merely by one party attributing the wrong intentions to the other party.
When most people reflect on conflict situations, their focus is on this stage because this is where conflicts become noticeable. This stage includes the statements, actions, and reactions made by the conflicting parties. These conflict behaviours are mostly overt attempts to execute each party’s intentions. But these behaviours have a motivation quality that is separate from intentions.
As a result of miscalculations or unskilled enactments, overt behaviours sometimes digress from original intentions.
The fifth and final phase, deals with the outcomes of a conflict, regardless of whether they are good or bad. As previously discussed, sometimes the conflict result is positive and at other times negative. A positive conflict result occurs when the quality of decisions is enriched, new creative solutions found, and both people or groups have their needs met, are more effective, and may even have a stronger relationship.
A negative conflict result is one in which communication breaks down and a solution cannot be reached, or one party may be facing an unacceptable loss (a “win-lose” situation). In its worst form, this kind of dysfunctional outcome can lead to violence and war. A question arises as to how conflict can act as a force to increase group performance. It is hard to picture a situation in which open or violent aggression could be functional. But there are a number of instances in which it’s possible to envision how low or moderate levels of conflict could improve the effectiveness of the group.
The destructive consequences of conflict on a group’s or an organization’s performance are generally well known. An example might include; uncontrolled opposition breeds discontent, which acts to dissolve common ties and eventually leads to the destruction of the group. Among the more undesirable consequences are a retarding of communication, reductions in group cohesiveness, and subordination of group goals to the primacy of infighting among members. At the extreme, conflict can bring group functioning to a halt and potentially threaten the group’s survival. Read about personalized conflict
The major causes of conflict are: wage demands and working conditions (both employee initiated):
- Management policy, political goals and social policy (all arising from extraneous sources).
Traditionally wage demands have been a major cause of industrial conflict, but this has been a less significant factor in recent times. The majority of industrial conflict that takes place is regarding working conditions and management policy. Industrial conflict is accepted by both then pluralist and radical perspectives of management.
The pluralist perspective acknowledges that employees and employers are going to have competing goals, and that conflict may arise. The radical perspective proposes that conflict is a natural artefact of the divide between the capitalist and working classes.
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