conflict resolution 47

Discussion Topic: Conflict Resolution

  • Use “When Relational Conflict Gets in the Way” (p.239) from the textbook (Adams & Galanes, 2018).


Adams, K. L., & Galanes, G. J. (2018) Communicating in groups: Applications and skills (10th ed). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

We often assign our student groups to observe and gather information about other real-life groups. One of our groups observed another group of students working on a project for a marketing class. This group of six included two men and four women, one of whom was lesbian. When other group members talked about their girlfriends and boyfriends, Robin talked about her wife as well. Charlotte, one of the women, snickered and smirked whenever Robin shared personal information—though this behavior was expected and accepted for the other students in this group. Our observing group couldn’t help noticing Charlotte’s disdain for Robin and became really upset when Charlotte’s antagonism toward Robin escalated. Charlotte made fun of Robin and her wife when Robin wasn’t there. She labeled Robin’s ideas for the project “stupid” even though, according to the observing group, Robin had the most creative ideas for the marketing project and was able to back up her suggestions with factual information. In addition, Charlotte forgot to tell Robin about a meeting the group had scheduled. In one particularly hostile instance, the marketing group had planned to meet in one room but decided to change rooms after they got there. Robin had told them she would be a little late because she was coming from work. After the group changed rooms, Charlotte e-mailed Robin about the change but did not tell Robin where they had moved. Robin eventually found the right room, after wandering all over the building searching for her team. Instead of apologizing, Charlotte yelled at her for being later than she had said. Through all this, Robin remained polite, engaged, and friendly. The observing students were horrified! They felt bad for Robin, couldn’t believe how badly Charlotte treated her, and also were distressed that no one in the group called Charlotte on her hostile behavior or came to Robin’s defense. We have discussed in several places how conflict over the task and procedures can turn into relational conflict rather easily. In this case, we see a situation where, from the start, a relational conflict consistently interfered with the effective management of group task work.

1. Although we did not address sexual orientation in the diversity chapter, it is an individual difference that can elicit strong feelings. Charlotte obviously felt strongly opposed to working with someone of Robin’s sexual orientation. What do you think Charlotte should have done, knowing that she felt so strongly?

2. This situation was a no-win one for Robin. If she kept silent about the mistreatment, she seemed to be condoning it. But if she said something, she would have put herself in a vulnerable position—her grade depended on the team’s work. What do you think Robin should have done about being bullied?

Just do response each posted # 1 to 3 down below only

Posted 1

If Charlotte knew she could not work with Robin in a constructive and creative manner as part of the team, she should have recused herself. The problems occurred because Charlotte was unable to behave in a professional manner due to her prejudice.

Robin had several options available, all of them unlikely in changing Charlotte’s prejudice. Few people could argue if the response to Charlotte’s bad direction trick and the subsequent attack had been met with, “You are absolutely right, I’m sorry to be so late. The email I received did not include the new room number. I’m lucky I found you at all”. Without attacking, anyone who knew Charlotte had sent the email was in the wrong. Robin may have other recourse if there is a team leader or other member who could try to work things out with Charlotte privately. Robin continuing to participate fully with a professional attitude will also highlight Charlotte’s unacceptable behavior to the rest of the team. Robin in no way is the problem.

The other members could have called Charlotte out on her bad behavior. First, privately, then in the general meeting. If they had the authority to remove her, they could have done so. She was the creator of a hostile climate that needed to be cleansed of her influence to become effective and supportive. If I had been a member of the group, I would have made it very clear that intolerance and abusive behavior was unacceptable.

While the observers were not authorized to do anything but observe, They could have said something to the group leader or addressed Charlotte individually. Bullying should never go unchecked. The definition given does not say why the observers were observing. Maybe they are there because there has been friction of this nature in the past. If the observer’s project results in a report, the observations should be included. I would inquire if the person granting permission would like any antisocial behavior reported now or at some time in the future.

Workplace bullying is not ok! Start documenting incidents and reporting to Human Resources. Legal action outside of the place of employment may also be warranted.

Posted 2

This is a tough situation for someone to be in, and for the observing group it must have been hard as well. We think that things like this will not happen in our work force, but in reality it happens all the time. The way that Robin was able to hold her composure and not flip out on Charlotte is impressive to me. Looking at what Charlotte should have done, other than be a good human being. If this was such an issue for her, she should have asked to be removed from the group. Having each person feel comfortable in the group is a must, therefor if Charlotte was going to act this way to Robin. She should have removed herself and if the team leader noticed the issue, that person should have removed her.

For Robin, she must have felt as no one cared what Charlotte was doing. As for Robin not making it a big deal is strong of her, knowing she needed to get through this for a grade. If I was Robin, after I received my grade I would have found the person in charge and we would have settled the issue with Charlotte. This is a major Equal Opportunity violation, and not only could Charlotte be terminated. So could the boss if they knew it was happening and did nothing.

For the team members to me they had two options do something about it or do nothing about what is happening. As a member of the team, I would have grabbed Charlotte at the first break and explained to her that this was not acceptable. I would have also informed her that if she doesn’t stop I will report the issue even if Robin does not.

The observing group has the same two options fix the problem or do nothing. If I was in the situation I might not have grabbed Charlotte, but I would have grabbed whoever was in charge. I would have explained to that person how I felt and they needed to correct the issue. If they did not I would have then grabbed Charlotte and fixed the problem myself.

Posted 3

Charlotte’s feelings and actions toward Robin is completely unacceptable. hen Charlotte first joined the group and was made aware of Robin’s sexual. orientation she should have removed herself from the group. By being open and honest about her feelings from the start the other members would have respected her more. Instead Charlotte was rude and immature which accomplished nothing productive.

I believe that without being rude or aggressive Robin should have stood up for herself. As the text book sated, by Robin remaining silent and not defending herself she seemed to be condoning the behavior. I do believe that although no one mentioned it, the other members were just as tired of Charlotte as Robin was. If Robin would have just stood up for herself one time Charlotte would have possibly straightened up. She may have found some respect out of her as well.

The other members of the group were in my opinion just as wrong as Charlotte. There is no excuse for why no one stopped what was happening. If they were afraid to address Charlotte they could have excused themselves and reported the behavior to someone else. The group failed Robin. I would have defended Robin immediately.

The other members that silently observed Charlotte’s behavior had a few options. One option was the one they actually did, standing back and doing nothing about what as occurring. Another option would have been to silently remove themselves and report the behavior. Another option would have been to immediately stop the group and address Charlotte. I would have preformed the last listed option and ceased the activity.

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