The term conflict refers to a situation of discord, dispute, or disagreement between two or more partners who have opposing views on a particular issue.Some degree of conflict is natural, even in the healthiest of relationships. In some cases, conflicts may be peacefully resolved through the use of appropriate conflict resolution techniques, while in other circumstances conflict may lead to aggression and violence.


Why do people start conflict?
Values can be looked at in two different ways and both are potential sources of conflict. Each of us value different things. For instance, you might value a boat above a washing machine while your spouse is the opposite. One nation might value rice above oil, while another places more value on oil. An inability to reconcile these differing preferences is a common source of conflict. We also have different values. Valentin Turchin in his Principia Cybernetica website article, "Science and Human Values," defines human values as what we appreciate, what we want to have or what we want to achieve. Examples might be peace, truth, love of God, patriotism and freedom. When two people or groups have values that are at odds, conflict is inevitable.
Conflict is often caused by poor communication. Failure to communicate, failure to listen or misinterpretation of what someone says is a common source of conflict. Our perception of other people or groups is at least as important and often more important than reality when it comes to our __relationship__ with them. Left unrecognized and uncorrected, misunderstanding between parties is a major source of conflict.
Certain personality types are incompatible in some situations. For instance, a group or team needs only one leader at a time, and when there are two or more aggressive, ambitious individuals, the group can be subjected to constant leadership challenges. If two people who are inherently stubborn disagree, the resolution of their conflict will be made more difficult by their stubbornness. The old adage that opposites attract has its roots in conflicts between similar personality types.
Incompatible goals of the parties in a relationship is a source of conflict as much in the geopolitical world as in our interpersonal relationship with friends and families. If, for instance, one nation or religion has as a goal the establishment of a worldwide government or religion, it is likely to conflict with any other nation or religion it shares the planet with. Another example could be a husband whose goal is to have children while his wife's goal is to remain childless.
Unfulfilled or frustrated needs are a source of conflict. Needs are the basic reason that relationships are formed. If individuals have needs that they cannot meet themselves, they turn to others and a relationship is formed. One common cause of conflict is one member of a relationship interfering with or failing to meet another member's needs. Needs, like values, can be looked at in two different ways. Our needs can be concrete. A nation might need things like food, energy, raw materials, etc. An individual might need food, shelter, clothing, etc. But besides our concrete needs, our emotional needs are at least as important in terms of causes of conflict, especially in interpersonal relationships. The failure of one party to meet a need for love or fulfillment of another party will cause a serious conflict.

Conflict Styles:
The Thomas Kilmann Instrument has been the leader in conflict resolution assessment for more than thirty years. This instrument requires no special qualifications for administration. It is used by Human Resources (HR) and Organizational Development (OD) consultants as a catalyst to open discussions on difficult issues and facilitate learning about how conflict-handling modes affect personal, group, and organizational dynamics. The TKI is designed to measure a person's behavior in conflict situations. "Conflict situations" are those in which the concerns of two people appear to be incompatible. In such situations, we can describe an individual's behavior along two dimensions: (1) assertiveness, the extent to which the person attempts to satisfy his own concerns, and (2) cooperativeness, the extent to which the person attempts to satisfy the other person's concerns.


Competing is assertive and uncooperative—an individual pursues his own concerns at the other person's expense. This is a power-oriented mode in which you use whatever power seems appropriate to win your own position—your ability to argue, your rank, or economic sanctions. Competing means "standing up for your rights," defending a position which you believe is correct, or simply trying to win.
Accommodating is unassertive and cooperative—the complete opposite of competing. When accommodating, the individual neglects his own concerns to satisfy the concerns of the other person; there is an element of self-sacrifice in this mode. Accommodating might take the form of selfless generosity or charity, obeying another person's order when you would prefer not to, or yielding to another's point of view.
Avoiding is unassertive and uncooperative—the person neither pursues his own concerns nor those of the other individual. Thus he does not deal with the conflict. Avoiding might take the form of diplomatically sidestepping an issue, postponing an issue until a better time, or simply withdrawing from a threatening situation.
Collaborating is both assertive and cooperative—the complete opposite of avoiding. Collaborating involves an attempt to work with others to find some solution that fully satisfies their concerns. It means digging into an issue to pinpoint the underlying needs and wants of the two individuals. Collaborating between two persons might take the form of exploring a disagreement to learn from each other's insights or trying to find a creative solution to an interpersonal problem.
Compromising is moderate in both assertiveness and cooperativeness. The objective is to find some expedient, mutually acceptable solution that partially satisfies both parties. It falls intermediate between competing and accommodating. Compromising gives up more than competing but less than accommodating. Likewise, it addresses an issue more directly than avoiding, but does not explore it in as much depth as collaborating. In some situations, compromising might mean splitting the difference between the two positions, exchanging concessions, or seeking a quick middle-ground solution.

What makes people do this, and what do they feel?
Emotional responses: These are the feelings we experience in conflict, ranging from anger and fear to despair and confusion. Emotional responses are often misunderstood, as people tend to believe that others feel the same as they do. Thus, differing emotional responses are confusing and, at times, threatening.
Cognitive responses: These are our ideas and thoughts about a conflict, often present as inner voices or internal observers in the midst of a situation. Through sub-vocalization (i.e., self-talk), we come to understand these cognitive responses. Such differing cognitive responses contribute to emotional and behavioral responses, where self-talk can either promote a positive or negative feedback loop in the situation.
Physical responses: These responses can play an important role in our ability to meet our needs in the conflict. They include heightened stress, bodily tension, increased perspiration, tunnel vision, shallow or accelerated breathing, nausea, and rapid heartbeat. These responses are similar to those we experience in high-anxiety situations, and they may be managed through __stress management__ techniques. Establishing a calmer environment in which emotions can be managed is more likely if the physical response is addressed effectively

How Does Gender Influence Conflict Styles?Men and women often approach conflicts differently. Even in childhood, males are more likely to be aggressive, demanding and competitive, while females are more cooperative. One survey of college students revealed that men and women viewed conflicts in contrasting ways. Regardless of their cultural background, female students described men as being concerned with power and more interested in content than relational issues. By contrast, women were described as being more concerned with maintaining the relationship during a conflict. When the actual conflict behaviors of both sexes are observed, women turn out to be more assertive than men about expressing their ideas and feelings, and men are more likely to withdraw from discussing issues. A look at the entire body of research on gender and conflict suggests that the differences in how the two sexes handle conflict are rather small, and not at all representative of the stereotypical picture of aggressive men and passive women. However, the influence of gender on these differences is quite small. Although men and women may have characteristically different conflict styles, the situation at hand has a greater influence on shaping the way a person handles conflict. Who is seeking change and how the other person responds determine the way conflict is managed much more than gender.

How Does Culture Influence Conflict Styles?Perhaps the most important cultural factor in shaping attitudes toward conflict is an orientation toward individualism or collectivism. In individualistic cultures, the goals, rights and needs of each person are considered important, and most people would agree that it is an individual's right to stand up for themselves. By contrast, collectivist cultures consider the concerns of the group to be more important than those of any individual. In these cultures, the kind of assertive behavior that might seem perfectly appropriate to a North American would seem rude and insensitive. Another factor that distinguishes the assertiveness that is so valued by North Americans and northern Europeans from the behavior styles of other cultures is the difference between high- and low-context cultural styles. Low-context cultures like Canada and the United States place a premium on being direct and literal. By contrast, high-context cultures like Japan value self-restraint and avoid confrontation.

Conflict Resolution:Conflict resolution is a range of methods for eliminating sources of conflict. Conflict resolution skills are prosocial in that they help to maintain and strengthen relationships that might otherwise be destroyed by conflict.The conflict resolution can come out in a positive or negative outcome, bysolving the bigger problem, it makes it easier to solve the problems to come afterwards. Such as an increased understanding; the resolution of the conflict expands a person’s awareness of the situation giving them an insight on how they can achieve their own goals, an increased group cohesion; they can develop stronger mutual respect and faith in their ability to work together again, and improved self-knowledge; conflict helps to examine your own goals, help to understand things which are most important, and enhance effectiveness.


What are some methods of conflict resolution?
Think before you reactIn conflict situations, the natural tendency is often to immediately react. If we want to successfully resolve conflict, it is vital that we think before we take action. Take the time to consider your options and weigh the available possibilities, and keep in mind that the same reaction will not be appropriate for every conflict situation you enter into.
Actively ListenListening is, hands down, the most important aspect of good communication. You need to be able to listen to what other parties are trying to communicate in order to effectively resolve conflict. Active listening means listening to what the other parties are saying and also paying attention to body language and intonation. Let the other party know that you’re listening by letting them know what you have heard.
Promise a Fair ProcessThe process involved in conflict resolution is often just as critical as the actual conflict. Therefore it is important that the conflict resolution methods that you choose are well thought out. If an involved party perceives unfairness in the process, the entire conflict resolution process may be destroyed.
Strive to Attack the ProblemConflict is something that is very emotional, and it is easy to attack other people when emotions become high. The only way that you will be able to get the most out of conflict resolution methods is to attack the problem rather than attacking one another. You need to determine what the problem is that is causing the emotion, attacking the causes rather than the symptoms of the problem.
Take ResponsibilityEvery conflict is going to have numerous different sides, and there is an ample amount of responsibility for everyone to take. If you place the blame on everyone else but you, all you will accomplish is an air of resentment that makes existing conflicts even worse. If you want to get the most out of conflict resolution methods, you need to be willing to accept your own personal share of the responsibility for the conflict, eliminating blame in the process.
Communicate DirectlySay exactly what it is that you mean, and mean everything that you say. Don’t hide the ball by focusing on the problem, when you can focus on the resolution instead. The best way that you can accomplish this is by using I messages, which allows you to express your needs, your wants and your concerns to those who are listening. These are concise, clear and non-threatening ways to let other people know what we are thinking and feeling.
Find True Interestswe can usually understand positions because we are taught from an early age to verbalize exactly what it is that we want. However, if we want to successfully resolve conflict issues, we need to be able to uncover exactly why it is that we want something, as well as what is actually important about the issue at hand in the conflict. You need to remember to look for the true interests behind every party in the conflict to get the most out of your conflict resolution methods and activities.
Be Future-FocusedIn order for us to understand the conflict at hand, we need to be able to understand the dynamics behind the relationship, including its history for example. In order to resolve such a conflict, we need to be able to focus on the future. What is it that we hope to do differently, come tomorrow?
Explore Options for Mutual Advancementyou should be looking for ways that you can assure that everyone is better off tomorrow than today. We should not gain at the expense of someone else, and they should not necessarily gain at our expense, as these things only prolong the conflict and prevent any hope of resolution in the process.
In Win-Lose problem solving, one party gets what he or she wants, whereas the other comes up short. People resort to this method of resolving disputes when they perceive a situation as being an either-or one. The most clear-cut examples of win-lose situations are games in which the rules require a winner and a loser. Power, authority, implied force or intellectual power are some common methods of defeating an opponent.
In Lose-Lose problem solving, neither side is satisfied with the outcome. The reality is that lose-lose is a fairly common way to handle conflicts. Unlike lose-lose outcomes, a compromise gives both parties at least some of what they wanted, though both sacrifice part of their goals.
In Win-Win problem solving, the goal is to find a solution that satisfies the needs of everyone involved. Not only do the parties avoid trying to win at the other's expense, but also they believe that by working together it is possible to find a solution that goes beyond a mere compromise and allows all parties to reach their goals.