Saturday, August 30, 2008

Interpersonal Conflict and Resolution

"Training to be soldiers.
Fight for our land.
Once in your life,
2 years of our time.
Have you ever wondered?
Why must we fight?
Because we love our land,
and we want it to be free,
to be free."

When Michael Chiang wrote "Army Daze" in 1987, he described a group of enlistees, their experiences in the military and how they supported each other through their basic military training. If only he knew that the real drama usually occurs after they are dispatched into various vocations, he probably would have summed up what he wrote in Army Daze in a page or two and left the rest talking about how everyone tried to "kill" each other while serving their time in the army. Testosterone is so dense in the air that you can literally smell trouble from afar. This, however, is one of the best instances to practise one's interpersonal conflict and resolution! Consider this scenario:

You were extremely angry that you've spent the last Friday working on someone else's share of work and missed the timing to go home. Thus, you were stuck in your camp for the night and had to work through the night so that it would be ready on Monday morning.

On the following Monday, you confronted him, telling him how irresponsible he was to leave the camp without completing his work. In fact, there were a fair exchange of insults and abuses. (Fair exchange and irresponsibility seems to be an understatement at that point of time.) He looked slightly guilty but insisted that he was not in the know. He defended his stand but you would not forgive him.

You would not talk to him for days and refuse to communicate with him in any matter. Your platoon noticed the problem you and this other specialist were having trouble and started taking sides. As a stand-in commander for your platoon, it alarmed you that the platoon is divided into two sides. However, you are still unwilling to forgive the other commander as your anger refuses to dissipate.

What would you do if this had happened to you? How different would you have reacted from how I did? I am all ears!



Wei Kwan said... @ September 1, 2008 at 12:55 AM

Hey Weiren,

I think this is an extremely thorny issue. In my humble opinion, I think one has to let go of his anger first. Otherwise, the anger is in effect, a wall that separates you and the other party and thus this will prevent any effective form of communications from taking place. Of course, this is not an easy thing to do and I am guilty of this for a few occasions.

Assuming that the other party is usually responsible and this is the 1st time he has done this, I will actually buy his argument if it sounds plausible and will give him another chance. If there are any more similar scenario that crops up, I will not hesitate to report to the platoon commander :)

weiren said... @ September 1, 2008 at 10:30 PM

Wei Kwan:


Honestly, I do feel that this incident showed one of my weakest moments in handling situations like these.

The person in the subject was a persistent procrastinator. I didn't want to report to my superiors partly because I did not want them to be worked up with the problems in the platoon since my immediate superiors are my company level commanders.

In the end, we still work together. However, there are still subtle unhappiness on my side. We talked about it, but in the end, there weren't much improvements.

The worst part is that I have to work with him for 9 more years.

Brad Blackstone said... @ September 2, 2008 at 12:36 AM

This is a concise problem statement, but there is some lack of clarity. Look at this sentence, for example: "As a stand-in commander for your platoon, it alarmed you that the platoon is divided, yet you were not willing to let go of the anger you had haboured within."

I appreciate the background given in paragraph #1 and the directness of the question posed.

Thanks, Weiren!