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Research Article
 

Emotional Intelligence as a Predictor of Conflict Resolution Style



Neeraj Kumari
 
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ABSTRACT

The objective of the study is to find the association of emotional intelligence with conflict resolution styles. It is a descriptive study. The sample size is 80 comprising of middle level managers. The sampling design used is Convenience Sampling. A structured questionnaire was designed for evaluating the seven different parameters of emotional intelligence. These parameters are Self awareness, Inter-Personal Sensitivity, Emotional Resilience, Motivation, Conscientiousness, Intuitiveness and Innovation. Emotional intelligence was identified as the independent variable and conflict resolution as the dependent variable. Amongst eight conflicts resolution styles, compromise (approach) and diffusion (avoidance) styles are significantly predicted by emotional intelligence. Diffusion is found to be best predicted by emotional intelligence. Higher level of emotional intelligence leads employees towards alignment with organization’s goals and objectives.

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  How to cite this article:

Neeraj Kumari , 2015. Emotional Intelligence as a Predictor of Conflict Resolution Style. Research Journal of Business Management, 9: 350-363.

DOI: 10.3923/rjbm.2015.350.363

URL: https://scialert.net/abstract/?doi=rjbm.2015.350.363
 
Received: September 15, 2014; Accepted: October 09, 2014; Published: December 05, 2014



INTRODUCTION

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a term which is used to describe the ability or skill of an individual to influence the emotions within themselves as well as other people. Not only is a person able to influence these emotions but they are also capable of managing and assessing them. The EI is considered to be on the cutting edge of psychological research. Emotions are best when they are left out of the decision making process. The EQ is more important in the work place than Intelligent Quotient (IQ). In the work place there are constant interactions which are occurring among the people who work there. While some of these interactions are positive others are negative. The key aspect to managers and company leaders is that they must understand each of these interactions over time. Researchers in EI express the view that a lack of emotional intelligence is one of the leading causes of conflict in our society. Emotional competence will play a crucial role when it comes to success as an employee. However, for many years, many people thought otherwise. For most people, including senior executives, it was thought that those with a higher IQ were the most important aspect of a company’s success. When it comes to leadership, EI is incredibly important, making the difference between effective and mediocre leadership. Some of the words used to describe these traits include listening, inspiring, guiding, vision and motivation. None of these words are connected to technical skills or general intelligence. Instead, they are better associated with emotional intelligence. Those who have these traits in abundance are referred to as being emotionally competent. If one want to become a better employee, the first thing need to do is assess yourself to find out if you are deficient in any of these areas, because if you are, this means you can improve by enhancing EI. Tests have been developed which can assess your current EI and once you are able to fully understand the aras in which you are deficient, you can begin working hard to increase your EI which will further translate into superior job performance. In turn, this superior job performance will leader to greater payment and fulfillment overall.

Most skilled employees are intelligent but not emotionally intelligent. Many individuals, who were extraordinarily intelligent when it came to analytical skills and general intelligence, were deficient in emotional intelligence. While they were good with numbers and logic, they were bad when it came to being sociable and they did not have a lot of friends. It also pays to be aware of their emotions as well as your own. Another type of person who is lacking in emotional intelligence is the individual who always steps on everyone's toes without realizing it. They come off as being bullies and few people like them. These people rarely know when "no" means "no," and they tend to try to force others to adhere to their standards. The seven elements of emotional intelligence are:

Self-awareness is the awareness of one's own feelings and the ability to recognise and manage these feelings in a way which one feels that one can control. This factor includes a degree of self-belief in one’s ability to manage one's emotions and to control their impact in a work environment
Emotional resilience is the ability to perform consistently in a range of situations under pressure and to adapt behavior appropriately. The ability to balance the needs of the situation and task with the needs and concerns of the individuals involved. The ability to retain focus on a course of action or need for results in the face of personal challenge or criticism
Motivation is the drive and energy to achieve clear results and make an impact and also, to balance short- and long-term goals with an ability to pursue demanding goals in the face of rejection or questioning
Interpersonal sensitivity is the ability to be aware of and take account of the needs and perceptions of others in arriving at decisions and proposing solutions to problems and challenges. The ability to build from this awareness and achieve the commitment of others to decisions and action ideas. The willingness to keep open one's thoughts on possible solutions to problems and actively listen to and reflect on, the reactions and inputs from others
Influence is the ability to persuade others to change a viewpoint based on the understanding of their position and the recognition of the need to listen to this perspective and provide a rationale for change
Intuitiveness is the ability to arrive at clear decisions and drive their implementation when presented with incomplete or ambiguous information using both rational and emotional' or intuitive perceptions of key issues and implications
Conscientiousness is the ability to display clear commitment to a course of action in the face of challenge and to match 'words and deeds' in encouraging others to support the chosen direction. The personal commitment to pursuing an ethical solution to a difficult business issue or problem

Conflict takes many forms in organizations. There is the inevitable clash between formal authority and power and those individuals and groups affected. There are jurisdictional disagreements among individuals, departments and between unions and management. There are subtler forms of conflict involving rivalries, jealousies, personality clashes, role definitions and struggles for power and favor. Conflict resolution is a range of methods for alleviating or eliminating sources of asses. The term “Conflict resolution” is sometimes used interchangeably with the term dispute resolution or alternative dispute resolution. Processes of conflict resolution generally include negotiation, mediation and diplomacy. The processes of arbitration, litigation and formal complaint processes are usually described with the term dispute resolution, although some refer to them as “Conflict resolution”. Processes of mediation and arbitration are often referred to as alternative dispute resolution. In many cases, effective conflict resolution skills can make the difference between positive and negative outcomes. By resolving conflict successfully, you can solve many of the problems that it has brought to the surface, as well as getting benefits that you might not at first expect:

Increased understanding, the discussion needed to resolve conflict expands people's awareness of the situation, giving them an insight into how they can achieve their own goals without undermining those of other people
Increased group cohesion, when conflict is resolved effectively, team members can develop stronger mutual respect and a renewed faith in their ability to work together
Improved self-knowledge, conflict pushes individuals to examine their goals in close detail, helping them understand the things that are most important to them, sharpening their focus and enhancing their effectiveness

The results of Azouzi and Jarboui (2013) revealed that the presence of a high emotional intelligence rate is not always positively correlated with the executives’ suggestibility with respect to behavioral biases. They have also affirmed the existence of a complementarily relationship between emotional intelligence and the directors’ board. Giorgi (2013) study suggests that organizational Emotional Intelligence (EI) is an important framework to examine in future research. The study provides preliminary feedback on the possibility of detection of variations in EI levels across organizations and highlights relevant implications accordingly. Liu and Liu (2013) analysis on the matched sample showed that team negative emotional climate has negative effect on team member, job satisfaction and team emotional climate moderates the relationship between leader emotional intelligence and team member job satisfaction such that leader emotional intelligence has stronger effect on member job satisfaction as team emotional climate becomes more negative. Boyatzis and Soler (2012), using emotional and social intelligence, two fifth-generation family business members inspired others by building resonant relationships with them. They created a shared vision among the various stakeholders in the family, the organization and the community. They got others excited about the vision using positive, emotional contagion. The contagion and resonance spread to others in the family, organization and region. The results of Anari (2012) study indicate that there is a positive significant relationship between emotional intelligence and job satisfaction, between emotional intelligence and organizational commitment and between job satisfaction and organizational commitment. It is also found there is no significant difference among high-school English teachers of different genders and ages concerning their job satisfaction and organizational commitment. But concerning emotional intelligence, the findings in this study provide support for gender differences with females reporting higher emotional intelligence but the results show no age differences among the participants. Leary et al. (2009) results support the relationship between extroversion and the components of EI. Somewhat counter intuitively stress management, the measure of EI that captures an individual's internal focus, is related to extroversion. A positive and significant relationship between a preference for the use of feeling in decision making and an individual’s EI is also found. Schumacher et al. (2009) correlation and regression analysis revealed several significant relationships between the variables. Specifically, buyers’ self-assessed emotional intelligence was not significantly related to buyers’ self-assessed relationship performance. Buyers’ emotional intelligence assessed by suppliers was significantly related to buyers’ relationship performance assessed by suppliers. Buyers’ emotional intelligence (as assessed by buyers and suppliers’ assessment differences) was not significantly related to buyers’ self-assessed relationship performance. Last, buyers’ emotional intelligence (as assessed by buyers’ and suppliers’ assessment differences) was significantly related to buyers’ relationship performance (as assessed by buyers’ and suppliers’ assessment differences). Thus, the results suggest that buyers’ emotional intelligence is positively related to relationship performance, most significantly from the perspective of their key suppliers. Groves et al. (2008) study results indicate that EI can be deliberately developed; the treatment group demonstrated statistically significant overall EI gains and across each EI dimension, while the control group did not show any significant pre-/post-test differences. Riggio and Reichard (2008) proposed that Emotional skills and complementary social skills are essential for effective leadership. Keane (2006) work indicated that emotional intensity and stakeholder power did impact the level of authentic discourse surrounding policy conflicts in each of the highly regulated industries studied. Bardzil and Slaski (2003) research is reviewed which suggests that EQ can be developed and which provides support for the argument that higher levels of EQ within organizations will facilitate the appropriate conditions for a positive climate for services to emerge. Fatt (2002) presented that foreign undergraduates have a higher EI score than those with a local education background. In addition, by examining the relationships between variables such as age, gender, year of study and EI, it was found that males have higher EI scores than females. Palmer et al. (2001) found that emotional intelligence correlated with several components of transformational leadership suggesting that it may be an important component of effective leadership. In particular emotional intelligence may account for how effective leaders monitor and respond to subordinates and make them feel at work. Dulewicz and Higgs (2000) EQ constructs can be measured more effectively by “Performance analysis” than “Classic study and pencil tests”. In addition they provide support for the proposition that the combination of EQ and IQ is a more powerful predictor of “success” than either measure alone.

Objectives of the study:

To study the impact of emotional intelligence on employees
To study the association of emotional intelligence with conflict resolution styles
To determine that emotional intelligence would significantly predict the different conflict resolution styles

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Research design: It is a descriptive study involving survey conducted on middle level managers.

Sampling technique: The sampling design used is Convenience Sampling.

Sample size: To determine emotional intelligence of the group, probability sample of 80 surviving employees was selected from the different organizations mainly consisting of middle level managers.

Research instrument: A questionnaire was designed for evaluating the seven different parameters. These parameters are Self awareness, Inter-Personal Sensitivity, Emotional Resilience, Motivation, Conscientiousness, Intuitiveness and Innovation. Each of these contains subscales consisting of 4-6 questions that are rated on a five pointer likert scale. Respondents were asked to rate their responses on each question by checking:

Not at all 1
To a little extent 2
To some extent 3
To a great extent 4
To a very great extent 5

To determine the conflict resolution styles Opinion Survey of Organizational Conflict (OSOC), developed by Pareek was used. This model was highlighted with two dimensions, namely avoidance-orientation and approach-orientation. Each dimension consisted of four sets of styles: Approach style consists of Confrontation, Compromise, Arbitration and Negotiation. While the Avoidance style include Resignation, Withdrawal, Diffusion and Appeasement.

RESULTS

Data analysis and interpretations
Self awareness: Table 1 and 2 show, mean of the parameter (self awareness) is 3.70. And 55% of the employees agree to it that they are self aware to a great extent and 28% of the employees strongly feel that they are self aware of their strengths and weakness.

Emotional resilience: Table 3 and 4 show, mean of the parameter (Emotional Resilience) is 2.9. and 46% of the employees feel that they are emotionally resilient to some extent only. This tends to find some situations more difficult to handle than others.

Table 1: Valid percentage of responses for questions pertaining to “self awareness”
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Table 2: Mean and standard deviation for “self awareness”
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Table 3: Valid percentage of responses for questions pertaining to “emotional resilience”
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Table 4: Mean and standard deviation for “emotional resilience”
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Table 5: Valid percentage of responses for questions pertaining to “motivation”
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Table 6: Mean and standard deviation for “motivation”
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Table 7: Valid percentage of responses for questions pertaining to interpersonal sensitivity
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Table 8: Mean and standard deviation for interpersonal sensitivity
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Motivation: Table 5 and 6 show, mean of the parameter (Motivation) is 3.60 and 33% of the employees think that they are motivated towards work and have ability to maintain their focus on achieving a significant goal or result appears to vary from one situation to another to great extent.

Interpersonal sensitivity: Table 7 and 8 show, mean of the parameter (Interpersonal sensitivity) is 3.90 and 53% of the employees think that they are aware of and take account of, the needs and perceptions of others in arriving at decisions and proposing solutions to problems and challenges.

Innovation: Table 9 and 10 show, mean of the parameter (Influence) is 3.01 and 30% of the employees have ability to persuade others to change a viewpoint based on the understanding of their position and the recognition of the need to listen to this perspective and provide a rationale for change to a great extent.

Intuitiveness: Table 11 and 12 show, mean of the parameter (Intuitiveness) is 2.8 and 11% of the employees think that they ability to arrive at clear decisions and drive their implementation when presented with incomplete or ambiguous information using both rational and ‘emotional’ or intuitive perceptions of key issues and implications.

Table 9: Valid percentage of responses for questions pertaining to innovation
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Table 10: Mean and standard deviation for innovation
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Table 11: Valid percentage of responses for questions pertaining to intuitiveness
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Table 12: Mean and standard deviation for intuitiveness
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Table 13: Valid percentage of responses for questions pertaining to conscientiousness
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Table 14: Mean and standard deviation for conscientiousness
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Conscientiousness: Table 13 and 14 show, mean of the parameter (Intuitiveness) is 2.8 and 22% of the employees agree that they don’t perceive inconsistency between words and actions in practice.

Self-Awareness: Table 15 show, correlation chart shows that an individual who is aware of the things and situations that upset him at work is also aware of his feelings that influence the way he responds to colleagues.

Table 15: Correlations for “self awareness”
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*Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (1-tailed)

Table 16: Correlations for “emotional resilience”
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**Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (1-tailed)

If the person is unable to figure out why he is upset, then he is also unaware of the feelings that control his response towards his colleagues.

Emotional resilience: Table 16 show, questions i.e., “I am able to express my case in face of opposition” and “When frustrated by something at work, I discuss my frustration appropriately” are negatively correlated to each other as their significance level is 0.006 which is <0.01 level and Pearson Correlation is negative -0.457.

Table 17: Correlations for “motivation”
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**Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (1-tailed)

Thus, a person who is good at expressing his feelings and opinions when upset, doesn’t show his frustration. In fact, he presents his side in an effective and influencing manner and turns the wind in his favor without being frustrated on others. He is good at solving differences rather than doing frustration acts.

Motivation: Table 17 show, employee who is good at dealing with things effectively that annoy him at work is able to pursue his goals in case of rejection or questioning. The chart shows high positive correlation of 0.790 between these responses.

Interpersonal sensitivity: Table 18 show, from the chart it is concluded that employees who acknowledge others’ feelings are able to deal with the stress and frustration of others and also work towards creating a positive work environment and motivate others to complete their job related goals and objectives. The chart shows positive correlation of 0.626 between employees.

Influence: Table 19 show, majority of the questions are positively correlated to each other. Employees who have ability to persuade are able to give a rationale for change to persuade others. Positive correlation of 0.390 is shown.

Multiple Regression analysis for EI predicting conflict resolution styles: Table 20 show, three among seven dimensions such as innovation, self awareness and motivation contributed significantly to explain the criterion Variable (i.e. compromise). Standardized beta coefficients were found to be negative in case of innovation and self awareness. This implied that individuals with more innovation and self-awareness tended to have less compromising tendency in resolving conflicts. However, standardized beta coefficients for motivation suggested that motivated individuals preferred to compromise with the conflicts.

Table 18: Correlations for “interpersonal sensitivity”
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**Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (1-tailed), *Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (1-tailed)

Table 19: Correlations for “influence”
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*Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (1-tailed)

Table 20: Multiple regression for EI predicting conflict resolution styles
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*p<0.05, ***p<0.001

Standardized beta coefficients indicated that individuals with more self awareness tended to have less preference for diffusion style. Individuals with more intuition tended to have more preference for diffusion style. Diffusion conflict resolution style was found to be best predicted conflict resolution style by EI questionnaire.

DISSCUSSION

The correlation values between the questions are positive and the majority of them have been found to be significant. This indicates that emotional intelligence of the employees helps them to get their task done, indulge into productive processes for continuous improvement in their performance level. To be more precise, the experimentation as well as innovation of new ideas, their implementation and usage when needed becomes more pronounced as the employees start managing their own and their coworkers’ emotions in more intelligent ways. Meisler (2014) showed that EI was positively related to political skill and job satisfaction. In addition, the findings show that political skill mediates the relationship between EI and job satisfaction.

It may be interpreted from the study that as the employees become more intelligent emotionally there is corresponding increase in positive attitudes and trying out new ways to deal with issues and problems. The increment in level of emotional intelligence of employees results in more of mutual support, respect and learning from each other. Emmerling and Boyatzis (2012) proposed thed Emotional and social intelligence competencies are found to represent a practical and theoretically coherent, reliable and valid approach to assessing and developing individuals in diverse cultures. Bagshaw (2000) found that emotional intelligence also contributes in a positive business enhancing way, improving team working, customer service and the managing of diversity. Fortunately this critical personal resource can be improved through appropriate coaching and training.

Further findings suggest that emotional intelligence predicts conflict resolution styles significantly. In the present study emotional intelligence has found to be significant predictor of compromise (approach style) and diffusion (avoidance style). Ideally a manager must know how to change his or her style depending on the situation. Individuals with sound emotional perception and emotion management skills coupled with personal skills have better understanding of the situations. They can resolve conflict by altering their conflict resolution styles between approach and avoidance styles (Carmeli et al., 2009). The results of four hierarchical regression models provide, in general, support for the positive association between emotional intelligence and psychological wellbeing components-self-esteem, life satisfaction and self-acceptance. Only marginal significant support was found for the negative relationship between emotional intelligence and somatic complaints.

Diffusion resolution style is better predicted by emotional intelligence. A complex set of relationships prevail in the organization that might be responsible for the managers at middle- level to buy time initially for dealing with conflict or to appeal to the good sense of conflicting groups (Diffusion conflict resolution style). Otherwise they prefer to compromise with the conflicting parties. Reason behind conflict resolution styles to a large extent depends on situation, culture and social value orientation.

It has been observed from multiple regression analysis that the individuals with more innovation and self awareness tend to have less compromising tendency in resolving conflicts. However, the motivated individuals prefer to compromise with the conflicts. Individuals with more self awareness have less preference for diffusion conflict resolution style. Innovative individuals often tend to produce new ideas for doing things differently. They challenge the status quo and are prepared to bend the rules and take risks to overcome obstacles to change.

Hess and Bacigalupo (2011) proposed that organizations and individuals may benefit from the development and utilization of behaviors attributed to emotional intelligence. The practical application of emotional intelligence skills can enhance individual and group decisions and outcomes.

Compromise conflict resolution style which refers to process of gain sharing without resolving conflict, might not be the preferred style to innovative individuals. Their willingness to do things differently, taking risks to overcome obstacles certainly look for solutions to the problems, not for compromising with the conflicts. Individuals with more self awareness understand better their strengths and shortcomings and the situations they are dealing with and accordingly use the conflict resolution style. Being aware of self and situations, they understand better about the solution of conflicts.

However, individuals with high motivation and high intuition prefer to use compromise and diffusion conflict resolution style, respectively. Motivated individuals get completely involved into their work in achieving organizational goal. They are opportunity seekers, obsessed about getting results. Sivanathan and Fekken (2002) analysis showed that leaders who reported higher levels of emotional intelligence were perceived by their followers as higher in transformational leadership and more effective. Interestingly, having high emotional intelligence was not related to supervisor’s ratings of effectiveness. Supervisors associated greater job effectiveness with higher moral reasoning.

CONCLUSION

The increment in the level of emotional intelligence of employees results in more of mutual support, respect and learning from each other. Emotional intelligence was identified as the independent variable and conflict resolution as the dependent variable. Amongst eight conflicts resolution styles, compromise (approach) and diffusion (avoidance) styles are significantly predicted by emotional intelligence. Diffusion is found to be best predicted by emotional intelligence. The employees in the study possessed above average level of emotional intelligence and are positively and significantly related to their performance in the organization. Higher level of emotional intelligence leads employees towards alignment with organization’s goals and objectives.

SUGGESTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

It is possible to develop overall level of emotional intelligence by planned and sustained development activities:

Become emotionally literate, one has to know his feeling and have to know what’s causing it rather than blaming certain people or certain situations
Differentiate your thoughts from your feelings, thoughts does not play any role in attaining emotional intelligence, it is feelings. Prevent thoughts from dictating what one should or shouldn’t feel. Feelings come from within and are stimulated by a person or a circumstance. It cannot be dictated, it just appears
Knowing and understanding your own feelings is different from understanding the feelings of others but both have to work together, in order to attain emotional intelligence, one has to understand what other people are feeling and respect them for it. It is important to empathize with other people and accept their feelings
Try not to control or lecture others when they are verbalizing their problems to you, this will not help them. This will only put them on the defensive and any means to help them would fail. Rather, just try to listen. People who have attained emotional intelligence know how to give regard to other people’s feelings and listen to what’s evoking those feelings
Try to avoid people who are negative towards you, this will not help to develop emotional intelligence, it will only hamper it. Give your emotional intelligence room to grow and develop by surrounding yourself with positive people willing to support you

The major implications for the management of the organizations are:

To innovate ideas and practices for great competitive advantages to the organization, the employees should be aware of organization's strategic concerns, possess attitudes of optimism and adaptability and should provide motivational support to each other
Once an employee individually or in a group has come up with strategically important structure/processes/technology, they should be integrated with other established structure/processes/technology. For this to be realized there should be a spirit of teamwork and collaboration among the employees and they should inspire each other
Innovation and retention of new ideas or structures or processes or technology will not exactly culminate into output until and unless they are sustained over a period of time for continuous self-learning and self-renewal. Therefore, it is the emotional competencies of empathy as well as adaptability that have to be developed significantly for successful realization of high performance

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