Successful conflict resolution is determined by the need to understand the actual cause of the problem, which in turn affects the nature of the solutions that are employed to resolve them (Barsky, 2000). An understanding of the nature and causes of conflict is critical in not only in the design of conflict resolution strategies, but also increases personal/group awareness of conflict potential and management. This paper provides a discussion of different types of conflicts according to their causes, and offers effective interventions suitable for each type. It concludes with an analysis of my world cloud, an assessment of the implications of the lessons learnt on my personal and professional lives.
Conflict refers to a battle, fight, contention, antagonism, contradiction, clash opposition, sharp disagreements among/of/about interests, resources and ideas. It also refers to the emotional disturbance stemming from a clash of two or more opposing impulses. Conflicts are unpleasant and stressful to most people and without the ability to successfully resolve them or resorting to superficial gestures only serves to exacerbate the effects even further (Merrill, 1996). Regardless of the nature or source of conflict, they are inevitable in many circumstances, and if handled correctly, they provided a crucial space for emotional relief and understanding oneself and other people through their eyes.
Data conflict arise when one or all the conflicting parties lack accurate information, which is necessary to facilitate making of correct, wise or well-informed decisions. Without good and relevant information, people are likely to reach misinformed decisions, contribute to or disagree on the relevancy of the information for decision-making (Merrill, 1996). In addition, parties are likely to interpret information differently, if they lack all, or important data to facilitate a holistic reading and interpretation of the situation or harbour often competing procedures of assessing the available data. Data conflicts can also arise from poor communication, management of, and access to data/information, prejudice, alienation, hostility among the parties. Since these causes are easily avoidable, a considerable number of data conflicts are unnecessary, unless they are caused by genuine incompatibilities related to the collection, procession, interpretation and communication of data and information (Balthazard, Cooke, & Porter, 2009). These conflicts are usually resolved by forging agreements on the important data, the procedures for collection, processing, storing, access and interpretation of data. It is also helpful to employ use third party opinions or expertise in order to break deadlocks.
This stems from the existence of strong misperceptions, negative emotions and stereotypes, coupled with repetitive negative conduct and miscommunication. Relationship difficulties often contribute to other types of conflicts, because it affects the capacity of the parties to approach conflict situations with an open mind (Merrill, 1996). Without a balanced and safe expression of different emotions and perspectives or even acknowledgement of other people’s feelings and conduct, then is bound to be conflict. The interventions for relationship conflicts include cultivation of positive attitudes, improvement in the quantity as well as quality of communication. In addition, it is necessary to clarify one’s perceptions and attitudes as far as is possible, while at once promoting emotional expression through legitimization of feelings. Emotional expression must be controlled by laid out ground rules, laws and procedures.
It is impossible to expect the everyone’s interests to be alike. Interest conflicts stem from the competition on actual or perceived needs that are incompatible, resulting in the parties believing that the satisfaction of their own interests and needs necessitates sacrificing the incompatible interests of other parties (Fiske, 2011). Varied interest conflicts form the basis of negotiating positions adopted by parties, and do often occur as a result of over substantive procedural and psychosocial issues, including the allocation of time, physical resources, fairness, alienation and respect etc. From children fighting over a toy to Israel and Palestine contesting the ownership of Jerusalem, interest conflicts can be resolved by an objective consideration of the parties interests and striking a balance among, while at once seeking to ways to increase the resources or options available to the parties (Balthazard, Cooke, & Porter, 2009). In addition, it is crucial to develop an integrative solution of the conflicting interests, with objectivity and understanding of different perspectives.
Individuals have different cultural, religious, social, and economic backgrounds etc., which influence their belief and value systems. The perceived and actual incompatibility in value systems of people lead to emergence of value conflicts. Values determine standards of accepted behaviour and actions, and determines what is thought by an individual as right, wrong, just, bad and unfair etc. With the increasing multicultural nature of communities across the world, value conflicts are quickly increasing, largely because some people impose their values on other people, or their values are genuinely incompatible with others (Fiske, 2011). Some people for instance support the death penalty, abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research etc., while others, owing to the their religious and ethical etc. systems, are completely opposed to these practices, which effectively sets up the potential for conflict. The need for tolerance, cultural relativism and cultural competence are increasingly important in the modern world, and central in the resolution of value-based conflicts. The interventions include refraining from value-based problem definitions; create collective values to guide behaviour and relationships among people (Aamodt, 2009).
These stem from external forces e.g. limited resources, geographical constraints, regulations, organizational changes and time (Barsky, 2000). Appreciation of the influence of external forces is helpful, besides clearly defining the roles of change and relocation of resources. In addition, changes should be based on negotiation as against coercion, and must respect the existent relationships and interests of varied parties.
Conflict Word Cloud
It is evident that my word cloud heavily focuses on relationship and data conflicts. I have used words that clearly describe emotional needs, frustrations and difficulties that are associated with the expression of emotions and possible incompatibility. These words include alienation, hostility, anger, anxiety, emotion, anger, stress, awareness understanding and disagreement. Others include threat, avoidance, heartache, pain, collaboration, tension and positive. I think the words are directly associated with relationship conflicts because my social, academic and professional lives have heavily been shaped by the relationships I form with people. This is because I did, and still spend a considerable amount of time away from my family and people that I know, and I often encounter strangers, with whom I am compelled to strike up relationships. Since strangers are different, the potential for conflict is heightened. I also have had difficulties with a few of my friends, which has been incredibly painful and stressful on my part.
I have learnt that conflicts have a specific cause that can be isolated, and in order to resolve them, providing cause-specific solutions is crucial. Further, I have learnt that the vast majority of conflicts can be avoided, with caution and skilled handling, accommodation, tolerance, understanding and negotiation. I believe these can be easily be translated not only to my professional life, but also my personal life, and will use the knowledge on conflicts, their causes and my own seeming predisposition to relationship conflicts evidenced in the word cloud to recognize, avoid and solve conflict situations that face me.
Aamodt, M. G. (2009). Industrial/Organizational Psychology: An Applied Approach. New York: Cengage Learning.
Balthazard, P. A., Cooke, R., & Porter, R. (2009). Dysfunctional culture, dysfunctional organization: Capturing the behavioral norms that form organizational culture and drive performance. Journal of Managerial Psychology Vol. 21 No. 8, 2006 , 709-732.
Barsky, A. E. (2000). Conflict Resolution for the Helping Professions. New York: Brooks/Cole.
Fiske, A. P. (2011). Social Relationships in Our Species and Cultures. In S. Kitayama, & D. Cohen, Handbook of CUltural Psychology. New York: Guilford.
Merrill, D. M. (1996). Conflict and cooperation among adult siblings during the transition to the role of filial caregiver. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 13 , 399-413.