Conflict as taught for graduate and professional work in conflict resolution (which can be win-win, where both parties get what they want, win-lose where one party gets what they want, or lose-lose where both parties don't get what they want) commonly has the definition: "when two or more parties, with perceived incompatible goals, seek to undermine each other's goal-seeking capability".
One should not confuse the distinction between the presence and absence of conflict with the difference between competition and co-operation. In competitive situations, the two or more individuals or parties each have mutually inconsistent goals, either party tries to reach their goal it will undermine the attempts of the other to reach theirs. Therefore, competitive situations will, by their nature, cause conflict. However, conflict can also occur in cooperative situations, in which two or more individuals or parties have consistent goals, because the manner in which one party tries to reach their goal can still undermine the other individual or party.
A clash of interests, values, actions or directions often sparks a conflict. Conflicts refer to the existence of that clash. Psychologically, a conflict exists when the reduction of one motivating stimulus involves an increase in another, so that a new adjustment is demanded. The word is applicable from the instant that the clash occurs. Even when we say that there is a potential conflict we are implying that there is already a conflict of direction even though a clash may not yet have occurred.
Conflict can exist at a variety of levels of analysis:
Conflicts in these levels may appear "nested" in conflicts residing at larger levels of analysis. For example, conflict within a work team may play out the dynamics of a broader conflict in the organization as a whole. (See Marie Dugan's article on Nested Conflict. John Paul Lederach has also written on this.) Theorists have claimed that parties can conceptualize responses to conflict according to a two-dimensional scheme; concern for one's own outcomes and concern for the outcomes of the other party. This scheme leads to the following hypotheses:
In Western society, practitioners usually suggest that attempts to find mutually beneficial solutions lead to the most satisfactory outcomes, but this may not hold true for many Asian societies. Several theorists detect successive phases in the development of conflicts.
Often a group finds itself in conflict over facts, goals, methods or values. It is critical that it properly identify the type of conflict it is experiencing if it hopes to manage the conflict through to resolution. For example, a group will often treat an assumption as a fact.
The more difficult type of conflict is when values are the root cause. It is more likely that a conflict over facts, or assumptions, will be resolved than one over values. It is extremely difficult to "prove" that a value is "right" or "correct". In some instances, a group will benefit from the use of a facilitator or process consultant to help identify the specific type of conflict. Practitioners of nonviolence have developed many practices to solve social and political conflicts without resorting to violence or coercion.
Conflict can arise between several characters and there can be more than one in a story or plot line. The little plot lines usually enhance the main conflict.
on the hand,conflict also defines as natural disagreement resulting from individuals or groups that differ in beliefs, attitudes, values or needs. It can also originate from past rivalries and personality differences. Other causes of conflict include trying to negotiate before the timing is right or before needed information is available. The following is the causes of conflict: • communication failure • personality conflict • value differences • goal differences • methodological differences • substandard performance • lack of cooperation • differences regarding authority • differences regarding responsibility • competition over resources • non-compliance with rules (LO)
The assertion that "the conflict is emotionally defined and driven," and "does not exist in the absence of emotion" is challenged by Economics, for example, "the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses." In this context, scarcity means that available resources are insufficient to satisfy all wants and needs. The subject of conflict as a purely rational, strategic decision is specifically addressed by Game Theory, a branch of Economics.
Where applicable, there are many components to the emotions that are intertwined with conflict. There is a behavioral, physiological, cognitive component.
These three components collectively advise that "the meanings of emotional experience and expression are determined by cultural values, beliefs, and practices."
There are several principles of conflict and emotion.
Emotions are acceptable in the workplace as long as they can be controlled and utilized for productive organizational outcomes.
Five basic ways of addressing conflict were identified by Thomas and Kilman in 1976:
The Thomas Kilman Instrument can be used to assess one's dominant style for addressing conflict.