Friday, November 29, 2019

Are you Building a Bridge or a Barrier? - Understanding CONFLICT

When I read the news, or watch a movie or hear about someone's family matters. I read, see and hear a lot of stories about conflict and disagreements. 

Political parties are having conflict between each other (that will never end I guess), husbands and wives who took marriage vows against all the odds and just being in 'love' which they never understood, colleagues over minor raise or with a boss over a futile recognition, today's generation z who changes their likes and dislikes in a few moments whether it is choosing a boyfriend/girlfriend or buying a new smartphone.

I was studying Max A Eggert and Wendy Falzon and learned a great deal about conflict and how to resolve it. I will share what I have learned from them and will focus on Understanding Conflict and make you think about the question - Are you Building a Bridge or a Barrier? 

What is Conflict?

Most dictionaries define conflict as the competitive or opposing action of incompatibles. In other words, conflict is when what you want, need, or expect interferes with what I want, need, or expect. It may be a disagreement over data or processes (how things get done), or it may be over resources (where the money and staff will come from to do the job); or it may be about relationships or our identities or values. 

The Four Possible Conflict Outcomes

1. Positive sum +2 = Party A (+1) and Party B (+1) satisfied and conflict is resolved
2. Zero sum 0 = Party A is satisfied (+1) but Party B is resentful (-1)
3. Zero sum 0 = Party A is resentful (-1) but Party B is satisfied (+1)
4. Negative sum – 2 = Party A is dissatisfied (-1) and so is Party B (-1) and conflict continues

Causes of Interpersonal Conflict

The conflict between individuals can also be brought about by:

Poor Communication - Where the parties are unable to express themselves, verbalise their needs, state the matter adequately, provide a logical and structured argument, or listen effectively, conflict can arise. The more limited the communication skills a person has, the greater possibility of physical violence.

Perceived Differences - Humans form groups naturally and so individuals need to distinguish their group from outsiders. This can lead to possible conflict between races, religions, political systems and, even, teams or departments at work.

Biological Orientation - This stems from the Darwinian concept of the survival of the fittest. Here it is suggested that conflict is both natural and healthy. Nature is red in tooth and claw. In the end, the strongest survive and those aspects which facilitate their survival are perpetuated. Weak organisations go to the wall.

Spatial Relationships - Individuals seem to need their own space. Consequently, when there is overcrowding conflict usually increases. We can see this in today's generation z.

Levels of Conflict

The conflict has a way of growing and it takes on a life of its own as it escalates. This diagram makes it obvious that the earlier conflict can be resolved, the better it is for all concerned.

Irritation-  The problems or difficulties are not significant; you could do without them but they are easily ignored. 

Annoyance-  The problems bring a growing frustration, stress begins to increase and difficulties are expected. Objections are usually voiced logically.

Anger - The problems bring about strong feelings of injustice, hurt and enmity. Objections start being voiced emotionally. People who want something and when they don't get it, they take the next step soon.

Violence - The position taken is thought to be totally justified. Retribution and payback become the order of the day; there is a need to win, irrespective of the cost, and for the other party to lose. Physical action is thought to be appropriate. Objections are expressed physically because argument using words has been to no avail - people walk off the job, go on strike, abuse the product, etc.

After understanding briefly about conflict, I request you to ponder upon yourself - What is the thing that is causing Conflict in your personal, family and or professional life. Because of the small conflict that started someday because of some petty issue takes a violent shape and destroys careers, families, relationships and lives of people.

Think everytime when you are in the situation of CONFLICT - 

Are you a Peacemaker or a Peacebreaker?
Are you Building a Bridge or a Barrier?

For your Success, Always!!

Ashish Parnani

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