A Closer Look at the Sources of Conflict
Like the gift of fire, man's gift of communication also has its downside. With communication comes the risk of misunderstandings. These arise when:
- Different perceptions of the situation exist.
- A lack of information.
- Different values are at stake.
What we need and what we want are not necessarily the same as the person next to us; everyone has different needs and conflict often arises when people have:
- Needs and interests that seem incompatible.
- Different styles, approaches, and preferences.
- Different emotional needs or styles (great new book on emotional style is The Emotional Life of Your Brain by Dr. Richard Davidson).
- Different values - these need not be mutually exclusive.
Sometimes things just get in the way of a smooth ride and life throws up some roadblocks that can cause conflict. These factors may include:
- Ineffective processes.
- Time constraints.
- Inappropriate (e.g. Lack of privacy).
- Dysfunction in the organization.
- Social structures.
Everyone can relate to this one! "No man is an island". We all have relationships of one kind or another. This means we all have ample opportunity to encounter conflict - and hopefully resolve it successfully. Conflict can spark when there are:
- Unmet or unspoken expectations.
- Hidden agendas or ulterior motives.
- Distorted perceptions.
- Stereotypes of others or ourselves.
- Imbalances of power.
- The personal history between the two (or more) parties.
Conflict can arise out of any of these sources, and usually a combination of them. That's the problem with problems: they're often very slippery and hard to get a handle on. When we can get to the root, though, we can begin to see with clarity.
Contributed by John Curtis, Attorney and Conflict Coach