af Anja Riis Tüchsen Hofgaard, MMCR, cand. mag. i psykologi og internationale udviklingsstudier, konsulent
The focus of this study is formed by personal experience with conflict resolution at the workplace and a background study of national surveys on psychosocial work environment in Denmark. The central question of the study is: How are conflicts handled on a specific workplace, and why are they handled this way?
The data is collected through semistructured qualitative interviews with 8 people at a specific workplace within the educational industry. The approach of the interviewer is based on the values and tools of the Reflective Mediation Model.
The study concludes that the conflicts on this particular workplace are handled through different behavioural actions which are either confrontational or avoiding. The reasons for this behaviour consists of (mainly) negative emotions acting as driving forces; expectations to the other party or parties in the conflict, which are based on own prior experiences with the other party (ies) or on stories about him or her.
Furthermore the behaviour is affected by the way the person perceives his or her possibilities for action. In this case, the management’s or colleagues’ lack of will to enter into a dialogue and structural limitations caused by the way the workplace is organised.
The results both support the theory of ’the dual mode model’ and the theory of ’conflict style’ and present a more nuanced understanding of those theories. The study suggests new focal points for surveys on psychosocial work environment. And it suggests that the development and training of people and organisations in handling conflicts may have to aim at more radical learning processes to be effective in changing people’s conflict behaviour.