Conflict Resolution

by Aled Davies

What is conflict?

A conflict becomes a conflict when two or more parties perceive their interests or needs to be incompatible and one party (or both, as the case might be) pursues their own interests and needs through actions that cause harm to or in some way damage the other party or parties. In other words, two people or groups want different things and one or both ‘sides’ use their power, strength and/or authority to get their way and in the process cause some physical or emotional harm to the other. That sets the conflict snowball in motion. As it grows, the conflict gathers momentum and can become increasingly difficult to stop.

How does this differ from a general disagreement?

General disagreements typically turn into more serious disagreements and become conflicts when, in the pursuit of one party’s interests or needs, the other party is hurt or negatively affected in some way, either physically or emotionally. Differences and disagreements are part and parcel of social life and they will continue to occur. Let’s face it – life would be pretty dull without them. But when one party decides to behave in a way that is not in harmony with the values of the group, organisation or society, and pursues their own interests by whatever means possible, then the likelihood of that event manifesting as a conflict is high.