Conflict arises out of a difference in thought processes, attitudes, understanding, interests, requirements and sometimes even perceptions. It arises whenever individuals have different values, opinions, needs, interests and are unable to find a middle way. Conflicts can result in heated arguments and can change relationships. The underlying cause of conflict is that two or more parties disagree about a situation and neither party is willing to concede.

Common causes of conflict and how to deal with them:

The most common causes of conflict are Lack of/ poor communication, different values, personality differences, and perceived unfairness.

Lack of/ poor communication

Lack of communication or poor communication skills are a huge source of conflict. It’s amazing how much conflict can be avoided and resolved when people are ready to listen to each other. I mean, really listen! A lot of the time, we think we are listening, we are simply preparing our responses in our minds. Empathic listening, to really understand the other person and their point of view, is a gift that keeps giving!

The best way to deal with poor communication proactively is first by making sure you properly understands the message the other party is trying to pass along. Seek clarification where you are unsure. When you are satisfied you really understand them, then seek to pass your own message, putting their views in your context.
When there has been a breakdown in communication which results in conflict, it’s best to let cool heads prevail, listen to the other party and explain your position calmly to reach a solution. Always remember the option of agreeing to disagree. It’s our ego that encourages us to want someone else to agree with us. Most unnecessary!
While discussing conflict with my team, one of the issues raised was the fear of confrontation in relation to conflict resolution. My question here is “What are you afraid of?” “What will the person do to you?” Unless you are in an abusive situation where you can expect physical or emotional violence, I say go ahead and calmly discuss the issue. Also, address the reason for your fear of confrontation; whether it’s a need to be liked, a fear of the uncertainty of the other person’s reaction, that the person would hold a grudge, or an escalation of the situation. Figure out the reason and attack the fear from its root.

Different Personal Value

Different personal values can be a source of conflict because most decisions are based on our values. When one of our values is questioned, most of us become defensive and ignore other values we share with the person questioning our values. The best way to resolve this kind of conflict is to understand the other person’s point of view, accept that not everyone will share the same views as ours, and find common ground that both parties can work on for a solution.
Most conflict arises as a result of different world views. The way you see the world depends on the colour of your spiritual lenses. These can be determined by influencers as major as the way you were raised, society, your friends or as minor as if you had breakfast that morning. So, the first thing you need to be mindful of is that everybody is seeing a different world. Don’t assume that anyone is seeing the same thing you are.
“Seek first to understand before you are understood”- Stephen Covey
Seek to understand the other person’s worldview by asking them questions and conversing with them to understand where they are coming from. This will give you a better understanding of the situation and resolve the conflict amicably. Honestly, if you learn not to judge but accept that we all have our different world views, and none are necessarily right or wrong, the world will be a much better place!!

Personality differences

Your unique personality traits make you , but can also be a cause of conflict with other personality types. The best way to address this type of conflict is to understand the different personality and temperament types. This will help you develop emotional intelligence and you’ll be much better equipped for dealing with the traits exhibited by other personality types.
Situations escalate from minor to major conflict as a result of one party being unable to or refusing to compromise or change their stance. I recently listened to an interview on Oprah’s podcast, Super Soul Sunday; about how there are only two emotions; fear and love and I really believe that to be true. Every other emotion comes from those two. So, our actions are either selfish and rooted in fear or selfless and bathed in love. If we truly remember to practice expressing the emotion of love, we will resolve conflicts before they get out of hand.

Perceived unfairness

Everyone develops a strong opinion about fairness as they grow and when it seems as if the fairness compass is askew, then distrust and conflict will rise. Conflict caused this way can be resolved by endeavouring to reward those that deserve it and properly communicating the reasons for any seemingly preferential treatment.
If you find yourself in a situation where you feel like your efforts are not being rewarded and others are being treated better than you are, the course of action should be to have a conversation about it. Of course, you should assess the situation as objectively as possible, you cannot expect to receive the same benefits as a high achiever when you’re delivering tardy work.
Once again, the best way to deal with conflict is to face it head on calmly, with clarity, authenticity and transparency. Sit down and have a chat about it. I promise you’ll feel better once its off your chest!
How do you deal with conflict? Do you ignore it or address it? Let me know in the comments.