Conflict in Action

Sources of Conflict

Understanding salient issues is very important for resolving conflict. Conflict ensues when parties are not the same with communication and further carrying out tasks. Several sources of conflict highlight difficulties in resolving problems. Main sources of conflict are conflicts with data; interests; procedures; values; relationships; roles; and communication.

Data are characteristics or information, usually numerical, that are collected through observation. data are simply units of information. Records are specialized forms of information. Essentially, records are information produced consciously or as by-products of business activities or transactions and retained because of their value. Primarily, their value is as evidence of the activities of an individual or organization, but they may also be retained for their informational value.

Interests is a feeling or emotion that causes attention to focus on an object, event, or process. The term is used as a general concept that may encompass other more specific psychological terms, such as curiosity and to a much lesser degree surprise. Attention is the behavioral and cognitive process of selectively concentrating on a discrete aspect of information. Whether the information is considered subjective or objective, while ignoring other perceivable information. Attraction is a quality that causes an interest, desire in, or gravitation to something or someone.

Process is a series of stages in time where the last stage is the product, result, or goal. Processes may be planned or unplanned. Planned processes have a purpose.  It is a course of action, or a procedure, to achieve a result, or an end-product. The sequence from start to finish is the plan. A plan may be written, programmed, or just held in the mind. Natural processes are not planned and but still has a purpose. They are investigated and described. Processes often repeat whenever certain conditions hold. Processes, especially those which are cyclical, may be subject to feedback.

Values that a person holds may be personal or political depending on whether they are considered in relation to the individual or to society. Apart from moral virtue, examples of personal values include friendship, knowledge, beauty etc. and examples of political values, justice, equality, and liberty. Value denotes the degree of importance of some thing or action. Alongside, it denotes the aim of determining what actions are best to do or what way is best to live, or to describe the significance of different actions. Values reflect a person’s sense of right and wrong or what “ought” to be.

 Relationships involves social associations, connections, or affiliations between two or more people. Interpersonal relationships vary in their degree of intimacy or self-disclosure. Relationships also vary in their duration, in their reciprocity and in their power distribution, to name only a few dimensions.

The context can vary from family or kinship relations, friendship, marriage, relations with associates, work, clubs, neighborhoods, and places of worship. Relationships may be regulated by law, custom, or mutual agreement, and form the basis of social groups and of society.

 Roles are a set of connected behaviors, rights, obligations, beliefs, and norms as conceptualized by people in a social situation. It is an expected, free, or continuously changing behavior and may have a given individual social status or social position. Role confusion occurs in a situation where an individual has trouble determining roles he or she should play.

The roles are not necessarily incompatible. There are situations where the prescribed sets of behavior that characterize roles may lead to cognitive dissonance in individuals. Role conflict is a special form of social conflict that takes place when one is forced to take on two different and incompatible roles at the same time.

 Communication is the act of conveying meanings from one entity or group to another using mutually understood signs, symbols, and semiotic rules. In simple terms, interpersonal communication is the communication between one person and another or others. Both verbal and nonverbal communication, or body language, play a part in how one person understands another. Barriers to effective communication can distort the message or intention of the message being conveyed. This may result in failure of the communication process or cause an effect that is undesirable.

      Conflict spirals

Conflict spirals when psychological and interpersonal factors frustrate attempts to control the conflict, and in this case, conflict escalation occurs. Conflict escalation is the process by which conflicts grow in severity over time. This may refer to conflicts between individuals or groups in interpersonal relationships, or it may refer to the escalation of hostilities.

Conflict escalation can be understood as an intensification of a conflict regarding the observed extent and the means used. Several factors including increased commitment to one’s position, use of harder influence tactics, and formation of coalitions propel the escalation of the conflict. In addition, triangulation spirals conflict.

      Face Saving

 Face Saving is an idiom for preserving one’s honor or prestige. Face is a metaphor for self-image, which originated from two Chinese conceptualizations. lien and mianzi. Lien is the internal moral face that involves shame, integrity, debasement, and honor issues. Mien-tzu, on the other hand, is the external social face that involves social recognition, position, authority, influence, and power. Face, or self-image when communicating with others, is a universal phenomenon that pervades across cultures. In conflicts, one’s face is threatened and thus the person tends to save or restore his or her face.

      Intergroup Conflicts

 Intergroup hostilities between different groups, is a feature common to all forms of human social organization. Group conflict can be separated into two sub-categories of conflict, inter-group, and intra-group conflict. Intergroup conflict is distinct groups are at odds with one another. Intragroup conflict is individuals that are part of the same group clash with one another.

Both forms of conflict can spiral upward in severity. But conflict present at the inter-group level is generally considered to be more powerful than conflict present at an individual level. Inter-group conflict phenomenon is known as the discontinuity effect.

     Frozen Conflicts

 A frozen conflict is a situation in which conflict becomes problematic and there is no resolution whatsoever to the satisfaction of the parties. Therefore, the conflict can start again at any moment, creating an environment of insecurity and instability. Parties have rigid unchanging perceptions of differing interests. Parties have incompatible values. Communication is poor or nonexistent. Parties perceive the situation as win-lose and move only to positions that give them advantage over the other. Parties have rigid and unchanging perceptions of self in relation to the rest of the world.

     Collaborative Approach to Resolving Conflict

Conditions that induce collaboration are open with information; high concern for welfare for self and others; perceived similarity in beliefs and attitudes; trusting and friendly attitude; orientation toward mutual power; respect for opposing interests; readiness to be helpful; and focus on issues, interests, and needs.

Parties should explore the perceptions of the other parties about the conflict; gain empathy and a greater understanding, intellectually reversing roles; look behind statements for underlying interests; diagnose and analyze obstacles that prevent progress; and work on the problem together through creative inventing.

     Collaborative Power

Sharing power means that you are just as willing to allow the other party to influence you as you are to influence them. Discussion is based on reasons and explanations rather manipulation and forcing. Collaborative power values the opinions and interests of both parties as a core element for settlements. Whenever there are two positions in a negotiation, the solution will never be one of those two parties. A successful solution depends on finding a third position that must be created or discovered.

     Conflict Styles

Managing conflict is pivotal in laying the way for tension caused in the conflict, if a conflict is poorly managed it can cause more issues than the original conflict. Conflict is defined as a situation in which the concerns of two people appear to be incompatible. There are five modes offered as solutions to managing a conflict that are assessed on a scale of assertiveness and cooperativeness. The five conflict styles are avoiding, accommodation, compromising, competitive, and collaborative.

Avoiding style simply avoids conflict by postponing or steering clear of any potential conflict. This style is unassertive and uncooperative. Avoiding is stepping out of the way, delaying, or simply avoiding a situation. This style can be beneficial in moderation, but eventually the conflicts will build up and create an unhealthy relationship. Popular uses of this style are when you find an issue unimportant, another problem is more pressing, or you need to allow time for tension to be reduced.

Accommodation style satisfies the other parties’ goals while being unassertive and cooperative. When accommodating an individual makes a sacrifice of their own needs to make the other party involved content. This can be good in a relational sense, but this can also lead to the party making sacrifices to become burnt out of using this style. This is typically used when you know you are wrong; you need to build up credit for a later situation that may be more important to you or you would rather keep the peace.

Compromising is exchanging concessions, both parties will give up a want and need to satisfy the conflict. This is intermediate in assertiveness and cooperation. Compromising is like collaborating; in that you find a mutually beneficial solution to the problem. The difference is compromising does address the issue, but it does not seek the root of the issue as is done in collaborating. Compromising is used when issues are important, but not worth using an assertive approach, you want a temporary fix or when collaboration or competing fail.

 Competitive style is one in which the individual tries to win their own position. It is assertive and uncooperative. This style could hurt a close relationship due to the competitive nature, leaving the losing party unsatisfied. Competitiveness can take things further than just the conflict and potentially permanently hurt feelings. In this style the individual will be standing up for their rights, defending their position or simply trying to win. This style is typical used when a quick decision needs to be made, issues where you need to protect yourself or when you know your side of the issue is correct.

Collaborative style is mutual problem solving for the needs of both parties. This falls on the scale of being both assertive and cooperative. This style can be beneficial to close relationships because individuals dig deeper to find the root of the conflict and find an alternative solution. You learn the other parties’ insights to try and find a more creative solution to the conflict. This model is best used when you need an integrative solution because both parties’ needs are too important to not be addressed, you want to join insights or work through hard feelings in the relationship.

     Comparison of Conflict Styles

Problem solving is most effective when the parties are highly interdependent and must work together in the future; there is a willingness to ignore power issues; formal procedures for problem solving are available to parties; one or both parties detect the conflict early and initiate problem solving before things get bad; and attention is focused on solving a common problem rather than defeating or adopting one party’s preferred solution.