Topic outline

  • Key unit competence:   

        To be able to manage conflicts.

    ‘Human beings and human groups need time to deal with emotional issues and relational issues. Groups spend 60 percent of their time working. The remainder is used for group maintenance, dealing with interpersonal issues that arise, and the like.’

                                                                                                                                  Susan Wheelan

    Introduction

    In today’s society, there is increased competition in almost all areas of life. At school, students have different interests and abilities. Each may want to pursue their interests at the expense of others leading to disputes among them. A student may also try to show his/ her special abilities in a way that creates discomfort among the other students. This is likely to cause conflicts among them.

    Conflicts can take place in different areas: in the family, at school, at the work place and even at our places of worship. Thus it is neccesary to understand  how to identify conflicts and have the skill to handle them. This is what is termed as conflict management.

    This unit will help you to gain skills that will enable you to manage conflicts effectively wherever you are.

    1.1 Concept of conflict

    Activity 1

    Read the short story below then answer the questions after it.

    Ingabire had always sat on her father’s lap whenever he came home. One day, Ingabire’s father arrived home and went straight to his couch. Ingabire rushed to her father and tried to sit on his lap. To her surprise, the father pushed her away. She tried a second time but the father firmly pushed her away.

    Ingabire asked in disbelief, “Dad, why are you doing this?” “You are no longer a small girl. You are a woman now. In fact, you have become so tall that you choke me when you sit here. Go and sit down on your couch,” Ingabire’s father answered.Paul, Ingabire’s elder brother chuckled happily.

    “Ahaa, you have grown up little dolly! Dad no longer needs you,” Paul said sarcastically. “And who needs a boy full of pimples on his face like you? And a voice that croaks like that of a frog!” Ingabire responded bitterly.

    This angered Paul and he rushed towards her sister, his fists clenched. On seeing this, Ingabire rushed to the kitchen and picked a cooking stick. Paul followed her. Soon, there was a loud cry from the kitchen. Paul and Ingabire were up in arms, fighting each other.

                                    

    Their father walked to the kitchen and came back with both of them. Paul was panting in anger. Ingabire was crying. The father kept quiet for some few minutes then said,

    “My children, listen to me. You need to live as brother and sister. There is nothing to fight over. I love both of you. But each one should learn to be independent and respect others.”

    Questions

    1. Identify the conflict in this story.

    2. Who are the characters in the conflict in this story?

    3. Why does Ingabire’s father refuse to let her sit on his lap?

    4. How does he justify his refusal to Ingabire?

    5. What do you think made the two children fight?

    6. What do you think promotes rivalry among brothers and sisters in families?

    7. Basing your argument on this story, describe conflict.

    From the activity above, you must have been able to come up with different reasons why people engage in disagreements and fighting. Fighting arises from conflicts.

    Conflict can be defined as a lack of understanding or agreement between people with opposing needs, interests, ideas beliefs, values or goals. For example in Activity 1, it is most likely that Paul and Ingabire engaged in a fight because each needed attention from the father. They were both competing for attention. From this example, we can say that conflict is a misunderstanding or disagreement between two parties.

    1.2 Types of conflict

    Activity 2

    1. Carry out a research on the types of conflict that can exist between communities.

    The following are the different types of conflict.

            1. Interpersonal conflict

    This refers to a conflict between two individuals. It mostly occurs as a result of personal or individual differences such as different interests, tastes and preferences.  When two people with different interests are tasked with making a choice, their differences in choice are likely to be seen. Where neither of them is willing to give up for the sake of the other or even to reason with the other, a conflict is likely to arise. For example, if a couple is to choose what family car to buy, different suggestions are likely to arise out of each partner’s preferences in terms of the make, colour, engine size or even the number of passengers that the car can accommodate. Without the spirit of give and take, these different preferences may lead to a conflict between the partners. Such a conflict can be termed as an interpersonal conflict.

               2. Intrapersonal conflict

    This is conflict that occurs within an individual. It is usually a psychological tussle involving contradictory thoughts, values, principles and emotions occurring in a person’s mind at the same time. It may vary from a simple conflict such as being torn between which shirt or blouse to wear to a certain occasion, to major conflicts like choosing a marriage partner or determining which career to pursue.

                3.Intragroup conflict

    This is a conflict that happens among individuals within a team. The misunderstandings among the affected members of the team trigger an intragroup conflict. Usually, it will start as an interpersonal disagreement among team members who have different personalities or those who have differing ideas and opinions on a given matter. This breeds tension within the group, especially if one among the conflicting members is a leader. For example, if a football team is asked to choose the colour for their uniforms, different suggestions are likely to be given due to the different colour preferences of the different team members. Unless members are willing to listen to each other, a conflict is likely to arise. Such a conflict can be termed as an intragroup conflict.

               4. Intergroup conflict

    Intergroup conflict occurs when a misunderstanding arises among different teams within an organisation. For example, there can be a misunderstanding between the sales department of a company and the finance department. While the finance department may push for attainment of set targets, the sales department may find the targets too high or unrealistic. This may be motivated by varied interest between the two departments, such as a scenario where the finance department pushes for higher sales while the sales department is pushing for attainable targets. This can lead to a conflict between the two departments. Such a conflict would be termed as an intergroup conflict.

                   5. Ethical conflict

    Ethical conflict occurs when there is a contradiction between an individual’s belief system about morality, ethics or justice and their own personal situation(s).  This can be a situation that involves choosing between two ‘evils’ where, perhaps, the ethical decision might result in personal or social injury or where an individual stands to gain from an unethical decision. As such, this conflict involves the question of whether the end justifies the means, often in situations where doing what is “morally right” results in a negative outcome while doing what is “morally wrong” or immoral results in a positive outcome. Such a conflict can be experienced at the individual, group, professional, or societal level.


    1.3 Causes of conflict

    Activity 3

    Read the following situations. Suggest possible causes of each  of the conflict situations mentioned.

    1. 55 people killed at a football stadium 

    2. Wife stabs her husband

    3. Boy aged 11 commits suicide over a love affair

    4. Sharp differences arise in the world football governing body

    5. Rival taxi groups fight each other    

    6. Siblings fight over deceased father’s wealth


    Causes of interpersonal conflict

    1. Personal or individual differences, for example different interests, tastes, likes and dislikes among members of a team.

    2. Selfishness, where one pesrson wants only what works for them.

    3. Greed, where some people want everything for themselves.

    4. Prejudices, which is an unfair opinion or feeling one has about people or things.

    Causes of intrapersonal conflict

    1. Low self esteem

    2. Lack of necessary life skills such as decision-making skills

    Causes of intragroup conflict

    1. Dictatorial leadership, where one person only wants to be the leader and will not listen to others.

    2. Vested/ personal interests in group affairs

    3. Individual differences among team members

    Causes of intergroup conflict

    1. Undefined or poorly defined boundaries in the activities of the conflicting groups

    2. Competition between groups within the same organisation

    3. Struggle for limited resources shared by the different groups such as finances or land

    4. Lack of a shared vision

    5. Insufficient infrastructure such as limited office space

    6. Propaganda. This involves unofficial and unconfirmed information against others. It could be true or false information but it comes from unknown sources and is transmitted through verbal means. This may create confusion and feelings of fear and suspicion.

    7. Poor communication across departments

    Causes of ethical conflict

    1. Disharmony between personal beliefs and the situation at hand

    1.4 Consequences of conflicts

    Activity 4

    Read the following case study and discuss what could be the possible consequences of the situation.

    Ishimwe who is a Senior 5 student, is going through a hard time. To begin with, he disagreed with his best friend and got into a fight. When he came home he found his parents quarrelling and his mother packed her bags and left, swearing never to come back. This affected Ishimwe terribly as he had no one to share his problems with. He loathed the idea of going to school as he did not want to see his friend with whom they had fallen out. How do you think these two conflicts affected those involved?

    The following are some possible consequences of the different types of conflicts.

    Consequences of interpersonal conflict

    1. Reduced social cohesion among community members

    2. Discord in the family

    3. Strained relationships among friends

    Consequences of intrapersonal conflict

    1. Restlessness and uneasiness (anxiety)

    2. Depression

    3. Delayed decision making

    4. Indecisiveness

    5. Diseases such as high blood pressure

    Consequences of intragroup conflict

    1. Mistrust among members of a team

    2. Reduced focus on team goals

    3. Gossip and slander among team members

    4. Lack of respect for those in authority

    Consequences of intergroup conflict

    1. Unhealthy competition between departments of the same organisation

    2. Reduced morale by members of different departments leading reduced performance/ productivity

    3. Wastage of company resources and time

    4. Increased cost for the company as it invests in solving interdepartmental conflicts

    Consequences of ethical conflict

    1. Wrong choices

    2. A sense of guilt after doing what you believe to be immoral

    3. Being seen as a poor role model

    However, it is important to note that conflicts can also be positive in the following ways:

    1. Conflicts foster an awareness that a problem exists.

    2. Discussing conflicting views can lead to better solutions.

    3. Conflicting situations require creativity to find the best solutions.

    4. Managing conflict is a sign of maturity.

    5. Conflict encourages people to grow.

    6. Conflicts can help in discovering strengths of the other person.

    Activity 5

    1. Share your experiences after a conflict with a friend, parent or other family member.
    2. State the lessons that you learnt from the experience.

    1.5  Management and transformation of conflict

    Activity 6

    Read Activity 1 again. What was the best way to manage the conflict between Ingabire and Paul?

    Conflict management involves acquiring skills related to conflict resolution, self-awareness and communication skills. Transformation of conflicts is the process through which a conflict ends as a peaceful outcome from a hostile one.
    The following are some strategies that can be employed to manage different types of conflict and how they transform the conflict.

                            1. Mediation

    This involves using a mediator to resolve the conflict. This strategy transforms the conflict to an opportunity to make adjustments through listening to others thereby making reasoned choices.

                          2. Guidance and counselling

    This involves talking to an objective or an experienced person for advice. It transforms the conflict into an opportunity to see competing interests or thoughts as platforms to choose the best option. This empowers the decisionmaker to make informed decisions.

                         3. Talking to others about the conflict

    This involves sharing your mental struggle with those close to you. This gives the person an opportunity to hear the opinions of others, clear any doubts or confusions and therefore transforming the conflict into a learning opportunity.

                                 4.Arbitration

    This involves the use of a qualified arbitrator to bring two opposing groups together. This transforms the conflict into a forum for reasoning together, explaining any shared vision and showing the need to share available resources harmoniously. This is likely to lead to improved interdepartmental relations; increased morale among members of the conflicting groups hence increased productivity.

    Peace keeping forces are sometimes used as arbitrators where there are conflicts and wars. The role of the peacekeeping forces usually is to not only maintain peace and security, but also to facilitate the political process, protect civilians, assist in the disarmament of fighting groups, support the organisation of elections in areas where the ruler of law has been restored, protect and promote human rights and assist in restoring the rule of law.

                                    5. Accommodating

    This involves giving the opposing side what it wants. This will happen when when one of the parties involved in a conflict chooses to maintain peace or perceives the issue as minor. For example, where a couple wants to buy a car but cannot agree on the size of the engine capacity and the colour of the car, they may use this strategy. One partner may opt for the preferred colour of the other to resolve the conflict. In this case, one party loses while the other one wins.

                                        6. Avoiding

    This is a strategy that aims at delaying the resolution of the conflict or even ignoring it altogether, with the hope that the misunderstanding or disagreement will solve itself naturally. That way, addressing the conflict is postponed indefinitely. This aims at avoiding any confrontation. Those who actively avoid conflict frequently have low esteem or hold a position of low power.

                                           7.Collaborating

    This involves putting together several ideas given by different people so as to come up with a solution acceptable to everyone. This can be used to solve intergroup conflicts or conflicts at the work place. Though the process of collaboration is time-consuming, it results in a win-win situation.

                                       8. Compromising

    This strategy involves both parties in a conflict giving up some aspects of their demands and settling for an acceptable solution. Thus, each party loses something but also gains in a different way. This strategy is mostly used where the conflict is between two parties bearing equal authority or status. It can be employed, for instance, by business people when coming up with a business contract/ agreement.

    Activity 7

    Imagine that you are revising individually in class and your desk mate keeps interrupting you with stories about the holiday. Whenever you ask her to concentrate on her work, she gets upset and claims that you are hostile. This creates tension between the two of you to a point that she stops talking to you. How would you resolve your differences with your desk mate?

    1.6  Prevention of conflict

    Activity 8

    Read the case study below and answer the questions that follow. There once lived a group of goat farmers in Ngatane. They owned a big piece of land outside the city. At some time, war broke out in that city and they all fled, along with all the inhabitants of the city.

    After many years, the war ended and people started going back to their land. A group of fruit farmers got to the city. They saw the land belonging to the goat farmers. They thought they could use it to grow fruits which they would be selling to the people of the city. They started preparing the land for fruit growing.
    However, before they had grown the fruits, the goat farmer arrived from exile. They wanted their land although they did not have good plans about how they would use it. A conflict arose between the two groups. A judge was called to help resolve the conflict. When he came, he called the two groups and listened to their arguments.  The goat farmers argued that the land belonged to them and they could not let it be taken by somebody else. The fruit farmers argued that they had already started work on the land and they could not just leave it. They gave a detailed plan of how they intended to use the land for the benefit of all.

    After listening to the two groups, the judge ruled that the land should be given to the fruit farmers because they had shown how they would utilise the land for the benefit of all including the goat farmers. He argued that resources should always be given to those who can make the best use of them.

    The goat farmers accepted to abide by this decision. To celebrate the successful outcome of this dispute, a singer was invited to entertain them.

    Questions

    1. Do you think the conflict in the story above was well managed? Give reasons for your answer.
    2. Do you agree with the judge’s statement that ‘resources should always be given to those who can make the best use of them’? Give reasons for your answer.
    3. Mention other ways of resolving conflict? 4. What can we do to prevent conflicts?

    From the activity above, you realise that proper communication helps to prevent conflicts. Below are other ways of preventing conflict:

    •    Solve all problems in time as a small problem can eventually become a major reason to worry about later on.
    •    Communication also plays a very important role in avoiding conflict. People get to know of other’s expectations and make their expectations known only through communicating. This way, conflicts arising from unmet expectations are avoided.
    •    Planning in time also helps in ensuring that nothing is forgotten and things are done efficiently, hence no one is inconvenienced or offended.
    •    Controlling one’s emotions also is very important as emotional outbursts often result to conflicts and even worse, fighting.
    •    It is also important to practise patience and listening even if one is in disagreement. Listening helps to make the other party feel respected and this can reduce the likelihood of a conflict as compared to maintaining a rigid standpoint and being insensitive to the other person’s point of view.
    •    Being sensitive to other people when communicating is another way of preventing conflicts. The way one talks, the tone and choice of words determine the effect of the communication. Politeness is a show of respect and it goes a long way in enhancing harmony among people.
    •    Give equal opportunities to all citizens. This checks against gender, ethnic or any forms of discrimination. Once all citizens know they have equal opportunities, there will be few cases of envy that lead to conflicts.
    •    Providing equal opportunities for each citizen to access quality education to their highest level possible helps prevent conflict.
    •    Providing every citizen with access to health facilities that are close and well equipped with all the resources needed will help prevent cases of conflict in a country
    . •    Ensuring democracy in all political activities will help prevent conflict in the society. Every member will know they can be listened to and they can participate in any political position they chose to, which will ensure peace
    . •    Ensuring a stable economy in a country will help prevent conflict. When the citizens know they can set up businesses, they can make money and can save and invest without fearing their investment will be stolen will help people work better and with more confidence and with each other fairly.

    Activity 9

    In groups, discuss the ways of preventing conflicts both at home and in school


                    UNIT SUMMARY

    Conflict – a lack of understanding and agreement between people with opposing needs, interests, ideas, beliefs, values or goals.

    Conflict management – the practice of being able to identify and handle conflicts sensibly, fairly and efficiently.

    Types of conflict

    1. Interpersonal conflict
    2. Intrapersonal conflict
    3. Intragroup conflict
    4. Intergroup conflict
    5. Ethical conflict

    Causes of conflict

    1. Causes of interpersonal conflict
    a. Personal or individual differences
    b. Selfishness
    c. Greed

    2. Causes of intrapersonal conflict
    a. Low self esteem
    b. Lack of necessary life skills

    3. Causes of intragroup conflict
    a. Dictatorial leadership
    b. Vested/personal interests in group affairs
    c. Individual differences among team members

    4. Causes of intergroup conflict
    a. Undefined/poorly group boundaries
    b. Competition between groups in the same organisation.
    c. Struggle for limited resources
    d. Lack of shared vision
    e. Insufficient infrastructure
    f. Propaganda
    g. Poor communication

    5. Causes of ethical conflict
    1. Disharmony between personal beliefs and the situation at hand

    Consequences of interpersonal conflict
    1. Reduced social cohesion among community members
    2. Discord in the family
    3. Strained relationships among friends

    Consequences of intrapersonal conflict

    1. Restlessness and uneasiness (anxiety)

    2. Depression

    3. Delayed decision making

    4. Indecisiveness

    5. Diseases such as high blood pressure

    Consequences of intragroup conflict

    1. Mistrust among members of a team

    2. Reduced focus on team goals

    3. Gossip and slander among team members

    4. Lack of respect for those in authority

    Consequences of intergroup conflict

    1. Unhealthy competition between departments of the same organisation

    2. Reduced morale by members of different departments leading reduced performance/ productivity

    3. Wastage of company resources and time

    4. Increased cost for the company as it invests in solving interdepartmental conflicts

    Consequences of ethical conflict

    1. Wrong choices

    2. A sense of guilt after doing what you believe to be immoral

    3. Being seen as a poor role model

    b. Positive consequences

    1. Conflicts foster an awareness that a problem exists.

    2. Discussing conflicting views can lead to better solutions.

    3. Conflicting situations require creativity to find the best solutions.

    4. Managing conflict is a sign of maturity.

    5. Conflict encourages people to grow.

    6. Conflicts can help in discovering strengths of the other person.

    Management and transformation of conflict

    1. Mediation

    2. Guidance and counselling

    3. Talking about others

    4. Arbitration

    5. Accomodating

    6. Avoiding

    7. Collaborating

    8. Compromising

    Prevention of conflict

    1. Address problems in good time

    2. Communicate expectations

    3. Plan in good time

    4. Control your emotions

    5. Practise patience

    6. Listen to others

    7. Be sensitive to others

    8. Give equal opportunities to all

                                                 Glossary

    Arbitration - a process of settling an argument or disagreement in which the people or groups on both sides present their opinions and ideas to a third person or group

    Cohesion - a condition in which people or things are closely united

    Conflict – a lack of understanding and agreement between people with opposing needs, interests, ideas, beliefs, values or goals.

    Ethical - involving questions of right and wrong behaviour

    Interpersonal - of or pertaining to the relations between persons

    Intrapersonal - existing or occurring within the self or within one’s mind

    Mediation - intervention between conflicting parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or compromise

    Propaganda - ideas or statements that are often false or exaggerated and that are spread in order to help a cause, a political leader, a government, etc.

                                               Test your competence
    Read the conflict situation below then answer the questions that follow,

    Isaro who has lived in Kigali town all his life went to visit his uncle’s family in the rural areas. One sunny afternoon, Isaro and his cousin disagreed on how to spend their leisure time and engaged in the following exchange of words.

    Isaro:  I want to go down the river, and have a walk along the river. It’s such a  beautiful sight.

    Mihigo: Let’s play football instead. We can look for some more boys from the neighbourhood.

    Isaro: Agh! Football is something I do every day at school. I’d like to do something different and rare.

    Mihigo: You find going up and down those valleys fun full? You have no idea how much I dread going there even to fetch water. Besides, if we go along the river right now, we are likely to come across people bathing.

    Isaro: What? People bathe there? That’s barbaric. Do you use the same water to cook? Yack! I will never eat your food. Just the thought of it makes my stomach turn. (Frowning)

    Mihigo: Spare me the act. You think, just because we live in the village we are less humans? You dare mock our lifestyle? Do you know how much dirt you people breathe in from the air coming from gas exhaustions in industries? We are better off; we have trees to clean our air.

    Isaro: I am going to tell my uncle right now. How dare you say that to me?

    Mihigo: You did it first.

    (Isaro runs to his uncle to report his cousin.)

    Questions

    1. What do you think is the cause of the conflict between Isaro and Mihigo?

    2. Would they have disagreed if they both had similar backgrounds?

    3. What makes Mihigo retort back and say something offensive to Isaro instead of keeping quiet?

    4. Is Mihigo right about the air in urban areas?

    5. Suggest possible strategies of managing and transforming a conflict like the one seen in this story.

    6. Mention other causes of conflict among people.



    • Key unit competences:

      To be able to criticise and improve different leadership styles.

      ‘Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.’

                                                                                                                                     Harry S. Truman


                                         Introduction

      Leadership refers to the ability to influence followers positively. It can also be defined as the ability to organise and supervise others with the purpose of achieving goals. A leader leads through official authority and power, as well as through inspiration, persuasion and personal connections. Leadership is the art of leading others to deliberately create a result that would not have happened otherwise.

      In Rwanda we experience different levels of leadership, from national level district, sector, cell to the village - ‘umudugudu’. Every community or group of people requires a leader. In this unit, we are going to study leadership and how it works. Be keen to make comparisons between each type of leadership and discuss as a class the advantages and disadvantages of each type. At the end of the unit you ought to creatively and innovatively decide which leadership style or type suits your community.

      2.1 Concept of leadership

      Activity 1

      Group discussion

      1. In groups, discuss the characteristics of a good leader, a good manager and a good governor.

      2. Discuss what leadership is to you.

      Now see if you have captured these ideas in your discussions:

      •    Leadership is the process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal or to accomplish a mission.

      •    Leadership is inspiring others to pursue a vision within the goals set, so that it becomes a shared effort, a shared vision, and a shared success.

      Leadership involves:

      • Establishing a clear vision, sharing that vision with others so that they will follow willingly.

      • Providing the information, knowledge and methods to fulfill that vision, and coordinating and balancing the conflicting situations.

      •    Leadership is a process of social influence, which means influencing people around you as a leader and maximising their efforts towards the achievement of a goal.

      Note that all the definitions have something in common:

      1. A person influences others, through social influence, not power, to get something accomplished.

      2. Leadership requires others to get something accomplished.

      3. There is a need to accomplish something, which means there is a goal to be accomplished.

      Activity 2

      Choose two kinds of leaders in your community and decide how they express their leadership. Do you think it reflects your understanding of the concept of leadership?

      2.2 Leadership styles

      Activity 3

      In pairs, list down four leaders. They can be student leaders in school, in the village, church, mosque or even at the national level. Discuss your opinion on the method of leadership for each person you have listed. Which among them do you like based on their kind of leadership? Write down your ideas and present to the class.

      You have discovered from your discussions about different leaders in your community that each has a different way or method of leading. In this section we shall refer to leadership styles and understand why and how leadership styles vary. Leadership style refers to a leader’s characteristic behaviour when directing, motivating, guiding and managing groups of people.

      The leadership styles include:

      i)  Authoritarian/autocratic leadership                                 ii)     Paternalistic leadership

      iii)  Democratic leadership                                                   iv)    Laissez-faire leadership

      v)  Bureaucratic leadership                                                 vi)    Transformational leadership

      vii)  Charismatic leadership                                                 viii)  Servant leadership

      ix) Transactional leadership                                                x)    Situational leadership


      (i) The authoritarian leadership: It is the type of leadership where the leader keeps strict, close control over followers by keeping close regulation of policies and procedures given to followers. There is direct supervision in order to maintain a successful leadership environment. Followers are expected to be productive, and therefore authoritarian leaders endeavour to keep close supervision, because of their belief that for anything to be done it requires consistent supervision and follow up. Authoritarian leadership style often follows the vision of those that are in control even when the decisions are not agreed upon by every individual.

                                                  

      (ii) Paternalistic leadership: This way of leadership is where the leader works  by acting as a father figure: he takes care of the followers as a parent would. In this style of leadership the leader has complete concern for his followers or workers, creating a relationship of trust and loyalty with followers. A team spirit is created and people work interdependently; they treat each other like family within the organisation

                                                  

      (iii) Democratic leadership: Democratic leadership style involves the leader sharing the decision-making process with his followers. The followers have a sense of belonging, ownership and responsibility; this also promotes the interests of the group members by practicing social equality. One of the main characteristics of this leadership is discussion, debate and sharing of ideas and encouragement of people to feel good about their involvement. It requires guidance and control by a specific leader.