I’ve been thinking a lot about conflict and ways of dealing with various types of conflict.
Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional. – Max Lucade
Conflict seems to be everywhere these days.
Conflicts between nations that can lead to wars.
Conflict between people which can lead to one fatally harming another.
Conflict between team members at work.
Conflict between family members and within relationships.
It seems like every day we come across instances of conflict. But, what causes conflict?
These are the main 5 causes of conflict.
Recognizing these causes is the first step in dealing with conflict situations.
1. Differing values can lead to conflicts.
When people have differing values, conflicts can result. If one of your personal values in life is that your family comes first, and if your boss’ personal value is that work comes first, conflict can be the result when they ask you to stay late at work or to give up a planned family vacation due to project deadlines.
2. Making assumptions can lead to conflicts.
If the husband assumes that his wife will have a hot meal waiting for him when he gets home from work (after all he works so hard at bringing home the bacon) and when that hot meal is not ready, conflict between the husband and wife can result.
When one person assumes anything about another person, well you know the saying about when you assume anything (that it makes an ASS out of U and ME). If the wife assumes her husband will remember their anniversary every year (how can he forget the most important date in their relationship, after all?) a conflict can result when the husband not only doesn’t make special plans to celebrate the day but doesn’t even remember that it is their anniversary.
3. Differing expectations can lead to conflict.
We expect people to know things without us telling them. What do you mean they can’t read our minds? Well, they should be able to, isn’t that obvious? Well, no. A lot of things are not obvious to many people.
Having differing expectations of people, such as expecting the single person in the office to work during the Christmas vacation while those married people with children expect to have the vacation time to spend with their family.Isn’t it obvious that those with children have the special holidays and March break off each year? Uhm, no, it isn’t obvious.
Just because that may be your expectation, doesn’t mean that it’s the expectation of other people. No wonder there is so much resentment and conflict at work, if you have that kind of expectation.
4. Differences in the way you were brought up can result in conflict.
The way that you were brought up, your religion, your gender, your race, and your ethnicity can result in conflict with people who are different than you.
If you are a woman born in the 1930’s and who grew up during the Great Depression, someone who was grew up during in the free-loving 1970’s may have a conflict with you regarding marriage and its vows.
Also, how many of us remember the Cold War and grew up believing that a nuclear war was inevitable? How can we relate that fear to today’s youth who have no concept of what it was to live during those times?
We see this all the time between men and women, too. We say that a man can act aggressive at work, but the same actions by a woman are viewed as her being a bitch. Gender can play a major role in conflicts.
5. Knowledge and ability to deal with conflict can result in conflict.
If you don’t know how to resolve conflict or are unwilling to try to resolve conflict, this in itself can conflict with someone else who has more knowledge and is more willing than you are. If two nations are unwilling to resolve their differences, they are bound to keep that conflict alive for future generations. We see this in the news every day. Neither side is willing to give an inch to the other side and so the conflict continues.
Now that we know the 5 main causes of conflict, what can we do to resolve conflict?
Conflicts may be the sources of defeat, lost life and a limitation of our potentiality but they may also lead to greater depth of living and the birth of more far-reaching unities, which flourish in the tensions that engender them. – Karl Jaspers
There are 5 main conflict resolution scenarios.
1. Ignore the conflict.
If you have a tendency to avoid or postpone talking about the conflict, you are trying to ignore it and hope it goes away. This rarely works with serious conflicts. If you want to leave a relationship because of the conflict, that’s your choice. But, putting your head in the sand and not dealing with the problem means that you will not learn from the experience either. What you fail to learn, you are bound to repeat in other relationships.
2. Smooth over the conflict.
Do you try to accommodate the other person and suppress your desires? Smoothing over any conflict just to avoid confrontation or dealing with both sides of the argument can also result in a temporary reprieve. The conflict may still be there, but resentment is also underlying as one person has given up their values in order to smooth over the conflict.
3. Use your authority to settle the conflict.
This is the way that it’s going to be because I said so! Parents say this all the time to their children when they want them to go to bed and the child wants to stay up and watch TV.
Isn’t this the boss’ favourite way, too? After all, they’re the boss and they have authority over you. Right? Yes? No? How does it make you feel when someone has perceived authority over you and tells you the way it’s going to be?
4. Negotiate a resolution to the conflict.
Ah, I love a good negotiation. You get what you want and I get what I want. Most of the time this works out really well. But with all negotiation, I have to give up something and so do you. If you want me to work this weekend, then I want more money. You may not want to pay me more money because it’s not in the project budget, but that’s what I want. If you don’t pay my rate, then you don’t get what you want. I want to make more money, so you have to give me something in return. Working on that cool upcoming project would be good, too.
5. Use collaboration to resolve the conflict.
This is your typical win-win scenario. Both parties win when they use collaboration.
But, collaboration only works when people trust each other to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. If you don’t trust the other person (and it doesn’t have to be blind trust, either) you won’t believe that they are coming to the table to put an end to the conflict between you.
However, if trust is there, this conflict resolution scenario can be the best way to resolve conflicts once and for all. When both parties come together, communicate, and trust each other a definitive resolution to their conflict can occur.
Now that you know the 5 main causes of conflict and 5 different conflict resolution scenarios, you are better equipped to recognize and deal with any conflicts that you have in your life.
Which conflict resolution scenario do you use the most? Let us know by leaving a comment. Thanks!
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