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Conflict: Definition , Nature and Types

Conflict: Definition , Nature and Types

by Team Businesspedia

What is Conflict?

Conflict is a process in which one party perceives that another party has taken or will take actions that are incompatible with one’s own interests. It refers to some form of friction, disagreement, or discord arising within a group when the beliefs or actions of one or more members of the group are either resisted by or unacceptable to one or more members of another group.

Nature of Conflict

1. Conflict is a Process

Conflict occurs in ‘layers’. First layer is always misunderstanding. The other layers are differences of values, differences of viewpoint, differences of interest, and interpersonal differences. It is also called a process because it begins with one party perceiving the other to oppose or negatively affect its interests and ends with competing, collaborating, compromising or avoiding.

2. Conflict is Inevitable

Conflict exists everywhere. No two persons are the same. Hence they may have individual differences. And the differences may be because of values or otherwise, lead to conflict. Although inevitable, conflict can be minimized, diverted and/or resolved. Conflict develops because we are dealing with people’s lives, jobs, children, pride, self-concept, ego and sense of mission. Conflict is inevitable and often good, for example, good teams always go through a “form, storm, norm and perform” period.

3. Conflict is a Normal Part of Life

Individuals, groups, and organizations have unlimited needs and different values but limited resources. Thus, this incompatibility is bound to lead to conflicts. The conflict is not a problem, but if it is poorly managed then it becomes a problem.

4. Perception

It must be perceived by the parties to it, otherwise it does not exist. In interpersonal interaction, perception is more important than reality. What we perceive and think affects our behaviour, attitudes, and communication.

5. Opposition

One party to the conflict must be perceiving or doing something the other party does not like or want.

6. Interdependence and Interaction

There must be some kind of real or perceived interdependence. Without interdependence, there can be no interaction. Conflict occurs only when some kind of interaction takes place.

7. Everyone is inflicted with Conflict

Conflict may occur within an individual, between two or more individuals, groups or between organisations.

8. Conflict is Multidimensional

It comes into different ways in accordance with degree of seriousness and capacity. At times, it may improve even a difficult situation.

Levels of Conflict

  1. Intrapersonal Conflict refers to conflict within one person. This type of conflict is a product of an individual’s mind, heart, values, and preferences. It can happen if an individual is torn between two competing desires, like doing something or not doing something.
  2. Interpersonal Conflict might arise between two or more individuals within the organization. This type of conflict can be caused by differences in personality, communication styles, or work habits.
  3. Intragroup Conflict occurs within a group or team. This type of conflict can arise due to differences in opinions, goals, or work processes.
  4. Intergroup Conflict happens between two or more groups or departments within the organization. This type of conflict can be caused by differences in goals, values, or resources.

Understanding and managing these levels of conflict is essential for promoting a healthy work environment and effective problem resolution.

Types Of Conflict

There are several different types of conflict

  1. Relationship Conflict
  2. Value Conflict
  3. Interest Conflict

Relationship Conflict is a personal perspective and can arise when one person behaves in a negative manner or another person has a skewed perception due to things like stereotypes and rumors. The relationship between people is affected negatively, and in the workplace, performance is eroded due to poor team cohesion.

Value Conflict arises when two people or groups have dissenting views on moral values– that basic understanding of what is naturally right or wrong. Relationship and value conflicts are the most subjective conflict types, because they are based totally on what someone “feels” about a person or situation.

Interest Conflict arises when one person’s desired outcome is in conflict with another person or group’s interests. Typically, this occurs when one person believes that another person’s desires if enacted, will prevent his or her own interests from being met. This type of conflict can be experienced when two people who have relationship conflict are required by a team
manager to work as a part of a team.

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