What is Your Conflict Definition?

Conflict, overt or covert, real or imagined, is at the root of many workplace problems. People often ignore or avoid this fact at their own peril.

If you were to define `conflict’, what terminology would you use?

Here are some conflict definitions. Choose the one that you think is most matches your own view and then ask yourself why you chose that particular option:

  • “Conflict is a natural disagreement resulting from individual or group differences in attitudes, beliefs, values or needs.”
  • “Conflict is a process that begins when someone thinks that someone else has or is about to negatively affect something that they care about such as values, feelings, resources.”
  • “Conflict is a state of opposition between persons or ideas or interests”
  • “Conflict is a state of disharmony between incompatible persons, or antithetical ideas, or interests”

My professional observations have led me to strongly gravitate toward the second definition. It emphasizes that conflict begins when someone thinks that something has or is about to happen. It also highlights that more often than not, conflict is the creation of our own minds. Frequently, the other person has no clue that we’re walking around with this full-blown issue driving us crazy. Still, our mind’s speculation governs our behaviour and before you know it, we start acting on our feelings toward the other person without ever asking the types of helpful, clarifying questions that could put a completely different spin on our understanding of the situation!

And that’s exactly why so many `sticky’ situations are never resolved or produce such poor outcomes.


Contact me directly anytime for help to make your work environment more civil.

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