Case study : Conflict Resolution

Case: Engaging in Supportive Confrontation

What are the problems, and who owns them based on the window on behavior?

The problem in this scenario is that Joe has realized a growing distance between him and Kim Kahn, the assistant manager for the Tools and Hardware. On several occasions, Joe has realized that the relationship between him and Kim is diminishing. According to him, Kim is pushing him away through his words and actions. He feels that Kim makes sarcastic and offensive comments during management meetings that are targeted towards him. In this case, Joe owns the problem since he is the one bothered by Kim’s actions and comments. He is upset that he has to keep working with Kim while enduring his behavior. This is a brewing conflict that should be solved as soon as possible. Joe and Kim are workmates and therefore it is important to resolve the conflict before it gets out of control. Failure to find a solution will affect their productivity and hence impact the business (, 2017).

What research and reflection should Joe do to test his assumptions and perceptions? What are the facts?

The first thing that Joe should do is conduct some organized research concerning the situation in order to get clarity. This step will allow him to see the situation as it is and it will help him avoid getting to a worse situation with Kim. Research will enable him to clear his perceptions and assumptions and get the facts. Joe should establish whether his problem is imaginary or real. This is because the problem could actually be in his mind and not real. In addition, he should find out whether Kim is the real cause of the problem or not. If he established that Joe is the cause of the problem, he will have the confidence to confront him. As part of his research, Joe should find out the underlying reasons why Kim behaves the way he does and what motivates him to act in that manner. Joe needs to determine whether Kim’s actions are driven by personal issues he may have with him or they are driven by his personality. It would not be appropriate to confront him before he can establish whether Kim acts the same way with other people or just him. It has been indicated that Kim is gruff by nature and is not really a people person. Determining what could able the actual cause of his behavior will inform Joe’s next step.

In addition, he should state any assumptions he has made about Kim and find out if they are true. It is also important to find out if there is anything he does not know about the situation. Could he be misjudging Kim? Could there be something that Kim is withholding from him like he is doing him? These are some of the questions that Joe should answer before taking another step. Additionally, he should find out whether Kim knows his actions could be affecting people (Griffith and Goodwin, 2012).

Through self reflection, Joe has an opportunity to think critically. This will help him to analyze his thought process and gain insight on his reasoning and personal mental processes. Just like looking in a mirror and drawing a line on what is acceptable and what is not, Joe can find some answers to the questions that this situation raise. Joe should look into his views, beliefs and attitudes to establish whether they influence how he reacts to the problem. Secondly, he should reflect on his emotional state of mind in line with this conflict. He should be able to know how this situation makes him feel. Is he angry, hurt, worried, disappointed or confused and what could be the reasons behind these feelings? Thirdly, reflection will help him establish if he has any responsibility to take in the conflict. There could be a chance that he has also contributed towards the conflict knowingly or unknowingly. Finally, he should be able to understand the outcome he desires for the situation.

The fact of this situation is that there is a conflict that needs to be resolved as soon as possible. Conflicts are not easy to avoid at the workplace and hence measures of resolving conflict should be invested in. the situation is making Joe uncomfortable and he understands and is willing to address it. This is the reason why he approached Jim Talent. Joe and Kim should work in a friendly environment and it cannot be easy to have one unless the conflict is resolved.

Does Joe have legitimate reasons to feel as he does?

Joe is justified to feel the way he does. He has realized that there is a distance growing between him and Kim. Having worked together in the past, there must be a reason why their relationship is strained. In the course of their duties, the two have to interact frequently, since Joe’s team perform many tasks for the Tool and Hardware department in which Kim is the assistant manager. In order to eliminate the tension that is developing, Joe understands that a solution is needed. Some of Kim’s actions and sentiments have been hurtful to Joe. It is therefore important for the two parties to address it so that their past relationship can be restored. If the problem is not addressed as soon as possible, it will impact Joe’s work. Kim could be totally unaware of how his behavior affects Joe and thus the more reason to resolve the conflict.


Should Joe seek to change his attitude, change his environment, or confront Kim regarding Kim’s behavior?

There are three alternatives that Joe can consider in resolving this conflict. He can change his attitude, change his environment or confront Kim about his behavior. If he chooses to change his attitude, he has to take a psychological move of taking the unacceptable behavior from his window into the acceptable area so that he no longer has a problem with Kim. Thus, the only option he has is to ignore the problem. Alternatively, he can change his environment. The only way he can achieve this is if his moves to another department where he has no direct contact with Kim. None of these approaches can be effective in solving this problem. It is impossible for Joe to ignore the problem and assume that it will not bother him anymore. In addition, changing the environment will not be a good move for a conflict that would be solved easily by talking with Kim. Both Joe and Kim hold managerial positions and changing departments could affect the business. This leaves him with the option of confronting Kim about his behavior.

The only viable method of addressing the issue is to talk to Kim about his behavior. He should let him know how his actions are affecting their working relationship. Having a face to face conversation with Kim will enable him to know if Kim has any issues with him. When Joe approached Jim seeking help about the issue, he was advised to talk with Kim about it. This will give the two parties a chance to get to the root cause of the problem. For people who have worked together in that past and who will be working together in the future, it is a better idea if they get to solve the issue themselves. The confrontation is not to pick a fight; rather, the goal is to motivate Kim to create a better working environment for both of them as well as other employees. This is an attempt to persuade Kim in order for him to change his behavior so that they can relate as they used to in the past. Joe should also offer support to Kim and help if he needs any help.


Griffith, D. B., & Goodwin, C. (2012). Conflict Survival Kit; Tools for Resolving Conflicting at Work. Upper Saddle River: Pearson.,. (2017). Conflict Resolution: Using “Interest-Based Relational” Approach. Retrieved 4 April 2017, from

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