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Core Concern: Role

Core Concern: Role

Author: marlene johnson

At the end of this tutorial, the learner will understand the importance of the role of perceived threat to role in creating conflict and the perceived security of role in a conflict resolution process.

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Notes on "Core Concern: Role"

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We all want to make meaningful contributions. We want to have a productive role in whatever it is we're doing, whether it's with a group or it's at work or even within our families. And when we feel that our contributions aren't productive or we don't understand the importance of our role, it could lead to conflict. I'm Marlene, and in today's tutorial, I'd like to talk about that with you.

So let's talk about the importance of role. We'll start by defining it. Role is a sense of owning responsibility or the right to make meaningful contributions in a group or situation. Now, this is considered a core concern in Maslow's hierarchy of needs. So let's define core concern. Per the Harvard Negotiation Project, a core concern is one of five emotional or relational needs all humans feel within relationships or in negotiation.

Now, these core needs all fit under esteem or love and belonging. You'll notice I have a red box around those here in the hierarchy of needs because that's where the core concerns all fit. And role fits here at the esteem level. It has to do with our self-esteem, and it has to do of course with the esteem that we would like to get from others about the role we're playing.

So when we're not given that esteem that we feel like our roles aren't contributing or aren't significant, it can lead to conflict. Let's look at a couple of examples. It could lead to conflict at work. You are doing a job. You have a supervisor. The supervisor has a manager. There's another manager over that manager. There's the VP, and there's the company objective up here.

So you're doing something at your level. You like your job, but you're not completely sure exactly how what you're doing is contributing. So you will lose interest. You become disengaged. No one is connecting the dots for you. No one is recognizing the importance of what you do. So you call in sick. You think, well, it doesn't really matter if I come in today.

Take a day off. That could lead to conflict. It could lead to conflict with your supervisor, conflict with coworkers because you just don't care as much as you should because you don't see the significance of your role. Maybe you feel that it is insignificant.

This could happen at a higher level. You've been working very hard. You've been taking perhaps some weekend time to finish your job. You have really been working hard, and yet exactly what you're doing here, the productivity of your role, the contribution is not being recognized. You're not quite sure what it is you're working so hard for.

This could lead to conflict again at work. The same thing can happen as a volunteer in an organization. If you feel that your role is not significant, it's not productive, it's not been recognized by others as a productive and meaningful contribution to the overall objective, you can lose heart. Perhaps you'll quit volunteering.

This even happens within families at the very youngest level. You have a three or four-year-old who wants to help. They want to have a role. They come into the kitchen, and of course how you assign the role, how you recognize what they're doing has to be age-appropriate. Perhaps you put your child on a stool, hand them a towel, tell them that they can wipe some dishes while you stand and supervise.

This is important because everyone, whether they're three or four years old or in the workforce, a lot older, an adult, everyone wants to feel that they're contributing. And they want to be recognized for their contributions. And when this doesn't happen, it can lead to conflict.

So in a conflict resolution process, the parties who are involved also want to feel that they are participating, that their role is contributing something, that they are giving something of value towards resolving the conflict. So being heard, listening to each party, acknowledging the importance of their role is very important in the overall conflict resolution process.

So in summary, we all play roles in life, a variety of roles, at work, when we volunteer, at home. And it's important that we see the significance of our role, that we feel that that's recognized by others, and that we feel productive. If we perceive that we are not being recognized as playing a particularly important role, it can lead to conflict. I've enjoyed being part of this tutorial, and I look forward to next time.

Terms to Know
Core Concern

Per Harvard Negotiation Project, one of 5 emotional or relational needs all humans feel within relationships or in negotiation.


A sense of "owning" responsibility or the right to make meaningful contributions in a group or situation.