Conflict, Its Classification and Management

Definition of conflict

The term conflict refers to the disagreements, misunderstandings, or differences which arise between different individuals. In day-to-day activities, for instance, in places of work, schools, churches, or at home, people encounter different types of conflicts. In most cases, conflicts emerge as a result of differences in beliefs, level of understanding, views, and personal feelings towards certain issues in life. Conflicts at the workplace arise during project planning, where colleagues have conflicting ideas.

At places of work, conflicts also arise during general meetings where the organizational management team talks about various emerging issues or debates about general issues, but one group of the team opposes while the other group consents. In such a case, conflict can arise if the conflicting groups refuse to come to an agreement concerning the way forward. In daily lives, conflicts arise at home where one child conflicts with another or a child conflicts with a parent or parents conflict amongst each other (Ferrell, 2006). All these conflicts arise where there are different opinions and a lack of understanding amongst individuals.

Types of conflicts

There are two main types of conflicts that are categorized based on the end results of the conflict. Below are the two types of conflicts and how they occur.

Constructive conflict

This refers to a conflict that exists between individuals, and due to the patience and understanding existing between the two, they end up settling the disagreement (Allyn; 2008). This type of disagreement exists under the following circumstances;

  • Two or more conflicting parties change their opinions and viewpoints concerning issues, and as a result, they end up solving the conflict by coming to an agreement or agreeing to disagree. Mostly, this kind of conflict is solved when people understand that all people are entitled to their own opinions, and being different is not wrong.
  • The two or more conflicting parties discuss the issue, causing hostility, and eventually, they solve their problem.
  • Conflicting people become close, and they end up forgetting about the conflict. For instance, a man and his wife can have an argument but due to their familiarity, they end up forgetting and learning to understand one another.
  • The parties argue or conflict for a long time and eventually a strong cohesive bond is created hence binding them together.

Destructive conflicts

This refers to the kind of conflict that exists between individuals but ends up not been solved thus causing disharmony among conflicting individuals. This type of conflict exists under the following circumstances:

  • The two or more conflicting parties do not agreement and as a result the problem is never solved.
  • The conflict may cause discord and people may end up fighting or calling one another names. In my family for instance, I avoid conflict at all cost, I do not like arguing and whenever I get involved in such a situation, I walk away. In most cases my family members end up yelling-at one another. My mother yells a lot and this behavior has been emulated by my little sister. Many times, we never solve anything; we just yell at each other. This behavior has been in my family for the longest time; there is so much yelling in my family. I am the only quiet person in my family. My grandfather has always taught me to be peaceful; he is a very calm person and he hates conflict.
  • Conflict mostly destroys people and particularly where conflicting parties lack control of their emotions. Many people lack understanding thus causing disharmony among people who around them.
  • The two or more conflicting individuals end-up on bad terms and disunited by their conflicts.

Places where conflict arise

In life, people encounter different types of conflicts where some are solved after the conflicting parties agree to solve their differences while others remain unsolved. In most cases, the conflicts that end up unsolved leads to hatred or fighting. Below are different types of conflicts encountered by people in their day-to-day lives.

Family Conflicts

In families, people conflict on a daily basis due to different reasons. In a family setting, the main conflicts that take place are; siblings conflicting among each other, a child conflicting with his/her parent or a parent conflicting with another parent. All these conflicts arise due to different opinions, lack of understanding and thoughtfulness among people. In most cases, these conflicts are caused by lack of understanding and poor communication skills. For example, a parent may be talking to his daughter, son or his/her spouse and they end up disagreeing because they did not have the same opinion and as a result they end up conflicting. Conflicts can be avoided if people can learn to understand other people’s point of view. If the conflicting parties do not listen to each other, the conflict may carry on thus causing insufferable consequences (Hudson; 2009).

Work Conflicts

Conflicts at work places occur due to differences arising between colleagues or employers and members of staff. These conflicts arise when one party or both parties fail to understand one another. Disagreements at work places occur during working period, project planning, discussions during general meetings or when solving issues within an organization.

Communal, tribal and racial conflicts

As people live in their different societies, their conflicts can originate from their tribal or cultural backgrounds. These types of disagreements occur due to incites from community or tribal leaders who are mostly affected by tribalism and racialism. Another cause of tribal and racial conflicts is communication etiquette. This happens where people who use their vernacular languages in places where people do not understand them.

The role of communication in conflict management

Communication plays a very important role in the process of conflict management. An effective communication system enables the conflicting parties to come to an agreement; this system helps people to resolve their issues and live in peace (Allyn; 2008). Poor communication skills hinder the process of solving conflict whereas effective communication is the best method of solving conflicts. Below are different ways through which effective communication skills aid in solving conflicts in real-life situations;

Causes of conflicts during communication process

There are things that take place during communication process thus causing people to engage in conflict. Below are some of these things;

  • Jumping into conclusions; when people are holding a conversation and one party rushes to make a conclusion from his/her point of view, the two parties are likely to conflict. This is because the other party did not agree-with the outcome of the conversation.
  • Use of generalizations and stereotypes; if two parties are communicating and one party creates uninformed and undermining sweeping statements, the other party may feel undermined thus causing conflict.
  • Communication barriers; the conflicting parties are likely to conflict if one party is not paying attention or seems disinterested.

Theories and practices which help in communication process

Effective communication is a theoretically studied topic in several books which discuss communication processes (Hudson; 2009). It is very important to apply learnt theories about effective communication in our daily conversations. This is the only way one can avoid conflicting with people in the society. Below are practices people should apply during communication thus solving daily conflicts;

  • People should focus on the issue under discussion and not the other party. This practice helps in reducing conflicts related to racial, tribal, gender, and age differences.
  • The parties involved in a conversation should be genuine and avoid being manipulative.
  • The parties involved in a conversation should be keen and learn to listen to each other.
  • The parties involved in a conversation should respect one another thus avoid intimidation.

Conclusion

A conflict refers to a misunderstanding or disagreement that arises between two or more individuals during communication. In life, people engage in different conflicts but all these conflicts are classified into two groups; the constructive conflicts where disagreeing parties come to an agreement and destructive conflicts where the conflicting parties end up not solving their differences. Based on this essay, practical application of effective communication skills is the only method of solving conflicts (Ferrell; 2006). Therefore, it is suggested that people should practically apply effective communication skills in order to avoid conflicts. In addition, people should use communication skills in order to solve the differences which exist among them.

References

Allyn, C. (2008). Interpersonal Communication. New York, NY: Beebe Press.

Ferrell, B. (2006).Textbook of Palliative Nursing. New York, NY: Oxford University press.

Hudson, R. (2009) Unique and Ordinary – Reflections on living and dying in a nursing. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.