July 15, 2014

Stress, Conflict and Negotiation Skills

Organizational behavior revision article series



Stress



The father of stress studies, Hans Selye, feels that complete freedom from stress is death. Stress is still one of the most important and serious problems facing the field of organizational behavior. Stress can be comprehensively defined as an adaptive response to an external situation that results in physical, psychological, and/or behavioral deviations for organizational participants. The causes of stress can be categorized into extraorganizational, organizational, and group stressors, as well as individual stressors and dispositions. In combination or singly, they represent a tremendous amount of potential stress impinging on today's jobholder-at every level and in every type of organization.

Conflict



In addition to stress, the dynamics of interactive behavior at interpersonal and group levels, and the resulting conflict, play an increasingly important role in the analysis and study of organizational behavior. Conflict and stress are conceptually and practically similar, especially at the individual level. Conflict at the intraindividual level involves frustration, goal conflict, and role conflict and ambiguity. Frustration occurs when goal-directed behavior is blocked. Goal conflict can come about from approach-approach, approach-avoidance, or avoidance-avoidance situations. Role conflict and ambiguity result from a clash in the expectations of the various roles possessed by an individual and can take the forms of role conflict, intrarole conflict, or interrole conflict.


Interpersonal conflict is first examined in terms of its sources (personal differences, information deficiency, role incompatibility, and environmental stress). Then the analysis of interpersonal conflict is made through the response categories of forcing, accommodating, avoiding, compromising, and collaborating. Intergroup conflict has also become important. The antecedents to intergroup conflict are identified as competition for resources, task interdependence, jurisdictional ambiguity, and status struggles.

The effects of stress and intraindividual conflict can create physical problems (heart disease, ulcers, arthritis), psychological problems (mood changes, lowered self-esteem, resentment of supervision, inability to make decisions, and job dissatisfaction), and/or behavioral problems (tardiness, absenteeism, turnover, and accidents).

A number of individual and organizational strategies have been developed to cope with these stress-induced problems. Exercise, relaxation, behavioral self-control techniques, cognitive therapy techniques, and networking are some potentially useful coping strategies that individuals can apply to help combat existing stress. Taking a more proactive approach, management of organizations can try to eliminate stressors, reduce work-family conflict, and implement employee assistance programs (EAPs).

A special concern for organizations today is to deal with the stress resulting from downsizing that affects both those laid off and the survivors. To manage this stress, downsizing organizations must fully communicate and display fair procedural justice for those let go. To counter survivor syndrome, downsized organizations can follow such guidelines as being proactive, acknowledging survivors' emotions, communicating after the cuts, and clarifying new roles. In any case, whether on an individual or an organizational level, steps need to be taken to prevent or reduce the increasing job stress facing today's employees.

Negotiation Skills



Negotiation skills are becoming increasingly recognized as important to effective management and personal success.

Research at one time identified some common mistakes being made in negotiations.

1. Negotiating persons tend to be overly affected by the frame, or form of presentation, of information in a negotiation.
2. Even when a course of action is no longer the most reasonable alternative, negotiators tend to nonrationally escalate commitment to a previously selected or advocated course of action.
3. Negotiators tend to assume that their gain must come at the expense of the other party and thereby miss opportunities for mutually beneficial trade-offs  between the parties.
4. Negotiators judgments tend to be anchored on irrelevant information, such as initial offer.
5. Negotiators tend to rely on readily available information.
6. Negotiators tend to fail to consider information that is available by focusing on the opponent's perspective.
7. Negotiators tend to be overconfident concerning the likelihood of attaining outcomes that favor the individual(s) involved.

 Traditionally, negotiators have depended on distributed and positional bargaining. Distributed bargaining assumes a "fixed pie" and focuses on how to get the biggest share, or "slice of the pie" for the benefit of the negotiating party. Positional bargaining approach involved successively taking and then giving up, a sequence of positions. A position involves telling the other side what you want.

Strategies called soft and hard are used in traditional ways of negotiating.  Characteristics of the "hard strategy" include the following: the goal is victory, distrust others, dig into your position, make threats, try to win contest of will, apply pressure.

Soft strategy includes characteristics: The goal is agreement, trust others, change your position easily,  make offers,  try to avoid a contest of will, and yield to pressure.


The traditional approach is now being challenged by more effective alternative negotiation skills.

Whetten and Cameron suggest an approach that takes an "expanding the pie" perspective and advocates finding win-win outcomes. The approach recommends:
1. Establishing superordinate goals.
2. Separating people from the problem
3. Focusing on interests, not positions
4. Inventing options for mutual gain.
5. Using objective criteria.

In terms of negotiation techniques or manoevres the following are identified as in use by negotiators.

 Practical low-risk strategies include flattery, addressing the easy points first, silence, inflated opening position, and "oh, poor me."

High-risk strategies include unexpected temper losses, high-balling, Boulwarism, and waiting until the last moment.

Harvard Negotiation Project came up with principles negotiation approach or negotiation on the merits approach. This is an  integrative approach, which uses a problem-solving, collaborative strategy, and the principled, or negotiation on the merits approach, which emphasizes people, interests, options, and criteria. These negotiation skills  change the game, leading to a win-win, wise agreement.

Along with social, emotional, behavioral, leadership, team, and communication skills, negotiation skills are becoming increasingly recognized as important to effective management.

Conducting Effective Negotiations
Joel Peterson
Stanford Graduate School of Business
31 January 2007
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Updated on 15 July 2014, 7 Dec 2011


July - Management Knowledge Revision

One Year MBA Knowledge Revision Plan

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July  - August     - September  - October  - November  - December

Article originally posted in
http://knol.google.com/k/narayana-rao/stress-conflict-and-negotiation-skills/2utb2lsm2k7a/165

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