The heart of an online course is the discussions that take place in the discussion boards. Students need to be aware that their presence in the online discussion boards can make a tremendous difference in the learning experience for all of the students in the classroom.

Student Participation

Students are expected to log into the online classroom throughout the week to read announcements from the instructor, read course material, submit assignments, and participate in online discussions.

Example of a discussion on a Discussion Board

The following is a sample of a discussion, which includes the instructor’s question, one student’s response to the question, another student’s secondary comment, and the instructor’s response to the student’s comment.

Module 3 Discussion Board: Conflict is…

[posted by professor]

After reading Chapter 1 in the Dana book, think about how you would describe conflict from a professional perspective. Start your response by completing the following sentence: “Conflict is…” then support your answer with theoretical as well as applied knowledge from your own experience.

After you post your response to this Discussion Board, read and comment on at least one of your fellow students’ postings.

Student #1 comments/responds to the professor’s question above

[posted by Student #1] 

Conflict is driven by human nature and occurs in interactions between people whose interests or functions are interdependent, and perceived incompatible with one another. People experience conflict when they are interdependent and must rely on one another for results. Interdependence is critical because it sets up an environment where individuals must chose to compete or co-operate in a situation, driving conflict interaction. Other conditions of conflict include feelings of anger and the perception that the other party or parties are at fault for various reasons. This also leads people to act in ways that causes a problem in terms of negatively affecting the productivity of one another (Dana, 2001, p. 5). Conflict can exist even if it is merely perceived by an individual or group of people, and does not necessarily rely on the presence of an objective situation. Therefore conflict inevitably occurs when an influence attempt by one party is resisted by another party or merely “perceived” to be resisted (Field, 1998, p.372).
Interpersonal conflict occurs between people in interpersonal relationships, between teams and small groups, and in inter-group settings. Conflicts can range from personal decisions to more challenging professional conflicts between individuals or a larger number of parties. Since it involves the presence of emotions, thoughts and behaviors that psychologists consider the only dimensions of human experience (Dana, 2001, p.5), it is rooted in all parts of our human nature and is a normal part of the daily functions in life. Any decision or interaction with another person can result in a conflict such as choosing which MBA program to take, juggling daily schedules and responsibilities, deciding what to wear, and responding to a production problem at work. A certain amount of positive conflict is necessary for humans to function and evolve. Simple conflicts are sometimes best to be ignored, while more complex ones are better to be confronted before they evolve into larger more destructive problems that cannot be contained. The level of conflict severity usually determines how much time is necessary to invest towards resolving it.

Different types of conflict include productive conflict where the individuals or groups involved are flexible in searching for and developing a mutually satisfying solution. In contrast, destructive conflict involves individuals or groups who are not flexible towards developing a win-win outcome, and whose main objective may be to defeat the opposing view. Conflict between groups is common in the workplace, since people rely heavily on one another to achieve a common objective. It can positively impact functions such as provide a platform for creativity and progress, as well as negatively paralyze essential processes. Members typically come from different backgrounds, possess different values because of diverse socialization experiences, and form different points of view (Field, 1998, p.388). Often caused by task interdependence and differences in goals and perceptions, predictable changes are known to occur within groups or between groups. Unresolved situations can result in decreased productivity, increased absenteeism and turnover, poor time management, and will generally lower morale, and cost the company a significant amount of capital investment. Taught the necessary skill set, employees can learn to be more effective by applying assertive and compromising styles to strategically identify, react and resolve conflicts, saving their company valuable time and money.

Dana, Daniel, (2001). Conflict Resolution, McGraw-Hill
Field, Richard H.G., (1998). Human Behaviour in Organizations, A Canadian Perspective, 2nd Ed. Prentice Hall

Student #1 comments on the response by Student #2

[posted by Student #1]

Hi Student #2,

I appreciate your interpretation of what a conflict means. It is true that we are human and conflicts will occur. I believe that perception is very key to conflicts, as it is our individual perceptions that allow us to believe that a conflict exists. It is also our perceptions that will lead us to a final outcome. If we believe that the outcome is a win-win solution, the conflict is resolved. It is our expectation that the outcome will be amicable, and if we don’t perceive it to be, the conflict will remain. Conflicts are intertwined with various human emotions and behaviors.

As you have stated, conflicts are not always negative; rather some instances of conflict can be constructive to the work process. It can allow ideas and strategies to flow and hopefully the outcome will be the best scenario. Our history is filled with labour conflicts with positive outcomes. If we did not challenge each other as our human nature, our society would not have progressed to what it is today.

Professor’s comment to the response written by Student #1

This is a great discussion, Student #1. I have two comments…

1. Do you think we should re-word Dana’s fight or flight comment to become “fight, flight, or ignore”? While I believe that human nature does, indeed, typically embrace the fight/flight nature, I also believe that today, in the information/technology age, there are situations where fight/flight is not appropriate or a possibility. Most people dislike conflict and flight is not always an option. For example, think about an employee who dislikes her boss because that individual makes inappropriate comments to her. Fight may not feel like an option because she fears retaliation. Flight may not feel like an option because she doesn’t want to look for a new job. So she will avoid or ignore the situation.

2. Negativity definitely creates more conflict. As Student #1 writes, negative people tend to see everything as a conflict. I have a neighbor who is extremely negative and it has created constant conflict in her relations with herself, her family, and her friends (and her neighbors!). For example, she found conflict when my husband was blowing snow from our driveway (when, if she had been quiet and not created a problem, he would have cleared her driveway…instead, by yelling at him to be careful and not blow snow on her driveway, he got upset and angry which resulted in him not wanting to help her).

At work, we are constantly encountering these people. I call it the “spiral of negativity” and liken it to a race track that, as the negative individual keeps identifying problems and conflict, that person digs deeper into the track and cannot get off. They cease having the capability to see any positive aspects in situations. It becomes a problem when the negative individual tries to contaminate the rest of the department or organization. Suddenly, you have a corporate morale problem.

As professionals, when you are in a management position, it is our responsibility to monitor such situations in order to confront them prior to the spread of the disease to others.

How can you identify them and/or approach individuals in this situation?