Understanding and Dealing With Conflict


Conflict is the moment when a person or group finds that the pursuit of one or more of their goals has been blocked by an impassable obstacle. Conflict can be caused by a variety of factors, such as limited resources, mutually exclusive objectives or misunderstandings. It can also be caused by strong emotion, such as jealousy, mistrust or hatred. Conflict can be destructive or constructive, depending on the way it is managed. Dysfunctional, or destructive conflict diverts energies, hurts team cohesion and promotes interpersonal hostilities, whereas healthy, constructive conflict can lead to innovative solutions that improve performance.

Conflict can be internal or external. An internal conflict occurs when a character wants something and someone or something is standing in their way, such as another character, a family member or themselves. In a story, conflict can also be the result of the setting in which the action takes place, like in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick where the crew is fighting against nature.

Generally speaking, internal conflicts happen when a character wants something that is against their personal values or beliefs. For example, a character may want to go to church but feel conflicted about going because it goes against their sexual orientation. An internal conflict can also occur due to differences in opinion and personality traits, such as how an individual perceives a situation or responds to it.

A common cause of conflict is the competition for limited resources. For example, an organization’s budget may only allow a certain number of employees to have access to expensive equipment or software. This could lead to conflict when employees are competing for these resources, such as technical staff wanting a new Blackberry and sales representatives demanding the latest iPhones. Conflict can also be the result of a lack of communication, such as when a person or group doesn’t agree with a decision or is confused by instructions.

An effective leader can help reduce the amount of destructive conflict in an organization by allowing the team to discuss its own concerns and find healthy ways to resolve them. They can also encourage constructive conflict in situations where the current status quo is holding back progress and innovation.

In addition, it is important to know how to deal with emotions in conflict situations. For instance, if you are feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, it can be difficult to communicate effectively with others. Likewise, if you are feeling insecure or angry, you will likely have a hard time acknowledging these feelings when confronted by an opposing viewpoint. Lastly, conflict can be especially debilitating when it is fueled by fear. If a person is predisposed to be afraid of conflict or has experienced unhealthy relationships in the past, it can be tough to handle conflicts in a productive way. In these cases, it’s important to work on overcoming these fears before conflict occurs. Otherwise, it can easily spiral out of control and negatively impact the outcome.