Power, Rights, and Interests Case Study

Power, Rights, and Interests Case Study

Natural Tendencies

Normally when conflicts arise, people are surprised and unsure of how to deal with the situation. The natural tendencies are not the best or healthiest options for handling conflict.  This is because they do not encourage clear communication which is the best way to find a mutually beneficial solution. Tina tried to use emotions and psychological defense to justify her actions. Tina’s habit of being rude to customers was getting out of hand and she clearly pushed things too far with Maria. Joe had given her more than enough chances to change but she didn’t. Even though she deserved the three day suspension, she used the emotional card so that she could get out of suspension. She expected Joe to sympathize with her for having family troubles and call off the suspension.  However, this would not have ended the conflict because she would not have learnt her lesson. She would have continued to treat her customers badly and believing she could get away with it (Cantieri, 2011).

Tina was biased and viewed the situation from a self serving perspective. She clearly feels that her feelings should be put first ahead of the customers’ and the business. After being rude to several customers, she does not seem to accept her mistake. Instead she goes ahead to challenge and intimidate her superior. When she points out that other people are rude to customers but are never punished, she is after her own self interests rather than acknowledge that it is bad for the business too. As a result, she pushes Joe to become defensive and emotional. Normally, Joe is a calm and natural person. However, Tina’s argumentative approach makes him angry. At this point resolving this conflict might be hard. If conflict is not addressed time, the relationship between the two workmates who were once cordial may become hard to salvage.

How the tendencies are power based

Tina was not cooperating despite the numerous efforts by Joe. He eventually had to use the power based approach and suspend Tina for violating policy severally. When Tina challenged his authority, he had to threaten her since she was using the negotiation table to manipulate him. He enforced his power by telling Tina that she should be thankful that she still had a job. This means that Tina’s actions could have led to her losing her job and thus complaining was not making things easier. Tina uses emotions and threatens Joe that she will file a discrimination suit. She continues to argue and defend her position. In such cases, a manager has no other choice but exercise authority. Since his position enables him to do so, he can exact his authority in order to end the conflict. Failure to do so will affect the performance of Tina and Joe.

Using the power based approach ensures that employees get back to their duties as soon as possible. A business has a responsibility to provide the best services in a competitive world. This means that they cannot spend too much time hovering over conflict. Although it is important to ensure that the working environment is friendly, putting too much emphasis on conflict resolution especially when one has clearly violated policy will eventually put the business off the market. Thus managers have a responsibility to assess the nature of conflict and exercise their authority where necessary. In this case, Joe cannot serve Tina’s interest without affecting the business. If she does not learn her lesson, the behavior will become consistent and will cost the business a lot (Hodge, 2011).

How the tendencies are right based

The policies and rules of the business should protect all employees. Tina becomes emotional because she claims to be unfairly treated. According to her, some employees are not punished when they treat customers unfairly. Thus, she feels that it is right to file a discrimination suit to appeal what she claims is wrongful and exaggerated punishment. On the other hand, Joe feels that the punishment is justifiable since Tina violated business policy. Employees should treat customers with respect at all times. Thus, when they complain, a manager should take action to ensure that their rights are not violated anymore (Maiese, 2004).

What Joe would have done differently

In order to save her relationship with Tina, Joe would have remained calm and let Tina understand that it is not personal. The two had worked well together previously. It is possible for Tina to feel like Joe was too hard on her. As supportive as he has been in the past, Tina would have expected him to sympathize with her situation due to her personal problems. Tina probably expected a lot from his superior while he on the other hand expected her to be the good employee she has always been. However, Joe has a responsibility to make sure that customers are satisfies too. In this case, he would have made Tina understand that it is his duty. In addition, he would have explained that she could use the time she was on suspension to figure her issues out so that she could perform better.

Exploring the interest based solution

This approach seeks to understand the needs, concerns, desires and interests of the conflicting parties. Joe should listen to Tina’s arguments to understand why she feels the punishment is not deserved. As much as employees are responsible for fulfilling the goals of a company, they should be appreciated and motivated. Tina needs to feel like an equal member of the team just like her colleagues. They can get to the root cause of the problems so that they can avoid conflict in the future. In addition, this provides Tina with an opportunity to exert her rights. When Joe considers the interest of Tina first, she will have a sense of belonging and she is likely to understand that she is wrong than she could when he is using force (Maiese, 2004).


Cantieri, C. (2011). Management: The Beauty of Balance – Handling Conflict. Reliance Staffing & Recruiting. Retrieved 10 March 2017, from http://www.reliancestaffing.com/2011/11/management-the-beauty-of-balance-handling-conflict/

Hodge, J. (2011). Four Essential Skills for Managing Differences and Resolving Conflict. gvsu.edu. Retrieved 10 March 2017, from https://www.gvsu.edu/cms4/asset/8C0B809B-0726-4E3B-1EBA4A40A82D8597/slow_conflict_handout.pdf

Maiese, M. (2004). Interests, Rights, Power and Needs Frames | Beyond Intractability. Beyondintractability.org. Retrieved 10 March 2017, from http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/interests-rights-power-needs-frames