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SOURCE OF CONFLICT

WHAT WE ARE ARGUING ABOUT MATTERS: SOURCES OF CONFLICT

It is important to think about the source when thinking about the solution. The main sources of conflict include the following:


* Information conflicts. These involve facts or numbers–the easiest conflicts to address. Managers can start by agreeing on the source of data and how to get it.

* Conflicts of interest and expectations. These involve underlying needs, concerns, and desires. It is important to identify the interests of each party first in a conflict. When the discussion is about interests, rather than positions, solutions will emerge more easily.

* Structural conflicts. These involve limited resources, or structures beyond the control of those involved in the conflict. For instance, if five people are vying for a promotion, and there is only one open position, this can cause a structural conflict. When faced with structural conflicts, it is important to bring the issue to the appropriate decision-maker, make sure decision processes are transparent, and look for ways to turn the decision-making over to those who will be affected by the decision.

* Conflicts in values. These involve people’s principles. It is better to work around these differences than to try to establish who is right and who is wrong. Focusing on goals that supersede the value differences (goal of the company, department, etc.) can lead to solutions.

* Relationship conflicts. These conflicts can affect all the other conflicts. These are about two people’s history, and frequently involve communication, stereotypes, and trust. Trust is extremely important to avoid and fix these conflicts. With it, employees can get through anything. Without it, employees cannot do anything. Trust is built up slowly, and needs to be worked on to be maintained. Managers need to feel like they can count on their employees, and employees need to feel like they can count on their managers.

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