We human beings are social animals. The nature of human beings is such that they cannot live alone. No human being can develop normally in isolation. The essential qualities of human nature are revealed through social interactions. Many of our needs will remain unsatisfied if we don’t have the co-operation of fellow beings. Our interactions with fellow human beings are often likely to give rise to conflicts since no two human beings are similar. We are different from each other from so many aspects.
So a conflict means different things to different persons. For some a conflict means fighting, trade embargoes and so on, whereas for others it may mean a difference in opinion, perspective or personality. It depends on the personal “take” of the situation by the parties involved in a conflict.
If we know the circumstances that precede a conflict, it would be possible to prevent the conflict from taking place.
Types of conflicts- There are basically five types of conflicts—
• Relationship conflicts- These conflicts result from misperceptions, miscommunications, negative behaviors and negative emotions among people.
• Information conflicts- These conflicts are caused by not having enough information to make good decisions and determining which data is relevant. A conflict can also occur when there is disagreement on information collection and communication.
• Interest conflicts- They occur when a person exploits another person. They might result from issues about money, respect, love or trust.
• Structural conflicts- They occur due to factors such as geographic or time limitations, limited resources and organizational changes. They can be resolved by understanding how structural changes contribute to them.
• Pseudo conflicts- These conflicts arise from misunderstandings.
• Value conflicts- These conflicts stem from people having different beliefs about right and wrong. Such conflicts ensue when a person tries to force one’s beliefs and values on others.
Main issues of conflicts- There are basically four main issues causing conflicts-
• Conflicts arise when people compete for the same resources such as territory, jobs, incomes, housing etc. The same is applicable to natural resources such as cultivable land or water.
• Conflicts arise when people are unhappy with administration and governance. They arise when a government oppresses people and doesn’t address basic needs.
• Conflicts arise when people’s beliefs including religious and political clash.
• Conflicts arise when people’s ethnic differences clash as ethnicity gives people a sense of identity and belonging.
As a matter of fact, conflicts frequently arise when people feel threatened regardless of whether the threat is real or not. Social and cultural conflicts most often result from poverty, bad management, insecurity, injustice, and a failure to meet the people’s basic human needs. Such conflicts may give rise to aggression and violence. Everyone mistrusts everyone and therefore crime and lawlessness increase rapidly.
Stages of the process of conflict- A conflict is process since they are associated with complex lives of human beings. Like every process, a conflict too has distinct stages.
• Beginning- A conflict begins to take shape as a result of differences between the conflicting parties. The idea of a cause to support emerges on both sides. The words “us” and “them” are used frequently. There is no aggression at this stage.
• Early growth- Both side express open hostility. The words “us and “them” are replaced by the word “enemy”. Each side looks for allies from outside, moral and physical support. Acts of aggression begin.
• Deadlock- Two sides are openly at war. Each side regards itself as just and right. Aggression and violence ensues. Finally, a stalemate will take place.
• Looking for a way out- The conflict reaches a stage where both sides are unhappy with state of things. Sooner or later, both sides decide to end the conflict without loss of face. At this time, a third party is introduced to mediate and negotiate.
• Settling the conflict- Settlements involve compromise often with bitter arguments about the compromise. Settlements decide ways in which either side is prepared to end conflict for the time being.
• Working together- After compromise, both sides create a new order together. Both sides have to face up to past, share their grievances and reconcile the differences.
Resolution of a conflict- The following strategies will help to settle conflicts quickly and peacefully.
• Remain calm- By remaining calm and quiet, we can let the storm pass over. Arguments are ineffective since they raise the barriers.
• Let the other person talk- Sometimes other person wants the do the talking as they feel important. This may defuse the conflict.
• Consider the view of the other person- Imagine yourself in his shoes. Sometimes we find that we are wrong. This realization will resolve the conflict.
• There is power in positive words- By using soothing and positive words, we can break down the barriers. Sometimes the other person only wants to be validated.
• Stop if the situation turns verbally abusive- Say calmly – Since you are angry right now, you are saying things you don’t mean. We will talk again after you calm down. Then excuse yourself.
• If you are wrong, quickly admit- Don’t hesitate to admit, if you realize that you are wrong. Even if you are right, try to resolve the issue by saying – I may be wrong. Let us look at the facts together. It is hard to argue with this. The other person may concede to look at the facts again.
• Brainstorm a solution which satisfies both- Resolving a conflict is a creative act. There are many solutions to a conflict. The key is a willingness to seek solutions.
• Affirm, forgive or thank- A handshake, hug or a kind word offers closure to the resolution of a conflict. Forgiveness is the best closure. For both parties, forgiveness gives freedom again to be at peace in the presence of each other. Acknowledging the efforts of the other person in resolution of a conflict sends a message of conciliation and gratitude. We can preserve our relationships this way.
Conflict resolution has applications in every walk of life, since conflicts will keep on arising all the time. It is possible for everyone to lean the skill of conflict resolution. A good skill will not only spare us lot of stress and tension but will help us keep our relationships intact and healthy.
“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.”
George Bernard Shaw
I am a physician and my special areas of interest are cardiology and fitness and exercise. I like to write on topics related to various diseases, fitness and exercise.I also write on topics related to spirituality and relationships.