In chapter seven, the author indicates that intercultural conflicts arise due to lack of ample knowledge requisite to deal with conflicts that are cultural based. Personally, I tend to identify conflict as an existing struggle between two or more interdependent parties with unmet emotional needs or incompatible goals. In other words, conflict arises when there is an implicit or explicit frustration or emotional struggle between people who come from differing cultures over perceived incompatible norms, goals, face concerns, values communication outcomes or scarce resources (Tooney & Oetzel, 2001). However, I have to concur with the author that the process of managing conflict is much more important than engaging in it. The type of management style employed when dealing with conflict has an adverse effect to the outcomes. In this regard, one needs to have a highly flexible approach when engaging or managing conflict. Failure to doing so, could lead to polarized situational outcomes that are capable worsening existing conflicts (Toomey & Oetzel, 2001).
The first topic that I found interesting from the reading is the significance of our cultural value patterns. The cultural patterns are important in our individual lives because they are responsible in influencing our expectations, attitudes and behaviors. In fact, there is a great possibility that play crucial roles in engendering intercultural frustrations among individuals (Tooney & Oetzel, 2001). For example as someone from a collectivistic culture, I will be more tempted to approach a certain situation having a specific group’s goal in mind. On the other hand, an individual having an individualistic culture will more likely approach the same state of affairs with self-serving goals in mind. It is indeed interesting to watch conflict or frustrations develop when these two different mindsets clash.
The second interesting topic derived from the readings is the issue of communication patterns in the global working environment and how they contribute to the development of conflicts between workers. A type of communication pattern is more likely to be influenced by the structure and expectations of power distance (Tooney & Oetzel, 2001). A status achievement conflict approach is as a result of large power distance and individualism. This is particularly interesting since given this particular situation, I would value earned inequality and freedom highly relative to other values. Moreover, due to power distance, I may feel free to communicate with my superiors however; I would not anticipate much change from the top management. This means that the effectiveness of my communication channel would be compromised.
Finally, conflict styles employed by different individuals dictate the approaches taken to resolving conflicts. The most critical aspect of any individual’s public self-image is his or her face (Toomey & Oetzel, 2001). The readings have explored various strategies that different individuals use when protecting or defending self-image. Personally, if I happen to encounter a situation that will likely put a threat to my sense of public image, I would be forced to engage in face-saving strategies. This is an imperative observation that helps me identify or discover values that I hold critical in my life.
Different people adopt different approaches when resolving conflicts depending on their specific traits. This presents two main problems. First, what are the best strategies to employ between introverts who tend to dodge their conflicts instead of attacking them? Moreover, extroverts tend to dominate when approaching conflicts (Toomey & Oetzel, 2001). This in turn demonstrates low concern for others and high concern for self. In this scenario, extroverts tend to protect and safe guide their own interests while steamrolling those of an introvert. What are the best conflict styles that could be effective when resolving cultural conflicts between an introvert and extrovert?
Toomey S. & Oetzel G. J. (2001). Managing Intercultural Conflict Effectively. London. SAGE Publishers.