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Conflict Resolution Services

AAC uses the definition of conflict from the University of Wisconsin's Office of Human Resource Development. They say a conflict is a disagreement through which the parties involved perceive a threat to their needs, interests or concerns. Within this simple definition there are several important understandings that emerge:

Disagreement - Generally, we are aware there is some level of difference in the positions of the two (or more) parties involved in the conflict. But the true disagreement versus the perceived disagreement may be quite different from one another. In fact, conflict tends to be accompanied by significant levels of misunderstanding that exaggerate the perceived disagreement considerably. If we can understand the true areas of disagreement, this will help us solve the right problems and manage the true needs of the parties.

Parties involved - There are often disparities in our sense of who is involved in the conflict. Sometimes, people are surprised to learn they are a party to the conflict, while other times we are shocked to learn we are not included in the disagreement. On many occasions, people who are seen as part of the social system (e.g., work team, family, company) are influenced to participate in the dispute, whether they would personally define the situation in that way or not. In the above example, people very readily "take sides" based upon current perceptions of the issues, past issues and relationships, roles within the organization, and other factors. The parties involved can become an elusive concept to define.

Perceived threat - People respond to the perceived threat, rather than the true threat, facing them. Thus, while perception doesn't become reality per se, people's behaviors, feelings and ongoing responses become modified by that evolving sense of the threat they confront. If we can work to understand the true threat (issues) and develop strategies (solutions) that manage it (agreement), we are acting constructively to manage the conflict.

Needs, interests or concerns - There is a tendency to narrowly define "the problem" as one of substance, task, and near-term viability. However, workplace conflicts tend to be far more complex than that, for they involve ongoing relationships with complex, emotional components. Simply stated, there are always procedural needs and psychological needs to be addressed within the conflict, in addition to the substantive needs that are generally presented. And the durability of the interests and concerns of the parties transcends the immediate presenting situation. Any efforts to resolve conflicts effectively must take these points into account. Conflicts occur when people (or other parties) perceive that, as a consequence of a disagreement, there is a threat to their needs, interests or concerns. Although conflict is a normal part of organization life, providing numerous opportunities for growth through improved understanding and insight, there is a tendency to view conflict as a negative experience caused by abnormally difficult circumstances. Disputants tend to perceive limited options and finite resources available in seeking solutions, rather than multiple possibilities that may exist 'outside the box' in which we are problem-solving.

These issues can severally hamper the growth of an organization and should be dealt with in a professional manner that address the roots of the problem and respects the dignity of all involved.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Capabilities
As part of a complete conflict resolution capability AAC use the MBTI tool from CPP, Inc. The MBTI assessment is a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. Understanding what types of people are in your organization provides a solid basis for making organizational changes and selecting the right type of person for the job.

The MBTI personality assessment tool is based on the four dichotomies constructed by Briggs and Meyers when the developed the concept. The four dichotomies surround attitudes, functions and lifestyles. A person's preference to one side or the other of the dichotomy is what the tool calculates. So for example whether or not a person prefers extraversion or introversion is characterized by the instrument.


Extraversion (E) - (I) Introversion
Sensing (S) - (N) Intuition
Thinking (T) - (F) Feeling
Judgment (J) - (P) Perception
With these four dichotomies characterized an individual's place in an organization can be reviewed in light of their preferences. For instance, putting someone in a public relations place in an organization, where they constantly face the public and must interface with probing questions might not be the right place for them. These assessments can help guide us in determining the balance of your organization. Organizational conflict can come from people who have opposite psychological preferences.

Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation (FIRO)
Beyond the assessment of the individual is the assessment of how those individuals will work as a team. AAC uses CPP, Inc.'s FIRO-B assessment tool. FIRO is a theory of interpersonal relations that mainly explains the interpersonal underworld of a small group. The theory is based on the belief that when people get together in a group, there are three main interpersonal needs they are looking to obtain - affection/openness, control and inclusion. CPP, Inc. provides a measuring instrument that contains six scales of nine-item questions that is called FIRO-B. This technique was created to measure or control how group members feel when it comes to inclusion, control, and affection/openness or to be able to get feedback from people in a group. This is an invaluable tool in assessing conflict resolution within teams.


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