Conflict, according to Karl Max and Friedrich Engels in their 1848 book The Communist Manifesto, would best be defined as a misunderstanding between two parties, a tag of war that arises specifically because of two or more antagonizing ideas. This feud could be taking place within an individual’s mind, where an individual is forced to make a decision and has two possible choices both of which could be contradicting.
The conflict would be having profound yet unknown consequences and in such a case, the conflict is called intrapersonal. Another set of conflict could involve two people who work or have to work together with differing ideas and both believe that their ideas are the best and have to be employed. In such a situation, the conflict that ensues is referred to as interpersonal. Whichever the case, conflict should always be addressed well in time, before it degenerates to levels that may adversely affect the concerned individual (John, & Earl, 2001).
In daily life, we are faced by conflicts of varying natures and we just have to manage them. It does not require one to live or work with people to be in a conflict. Conflicts emerge within individuals and to worsen the situation, we are forced to interact with people, which end up breading more conflicts.
Therefore, this leads individuals to evaluate the most important aspect of conflict, which is management. Scholars try to formulate the best ways of managing conflicts. In a study of conflicts, one decision sounds lucrative than another. This means that an individual may be tempted to follow the ones, which tend to be constructive.
In this regard, people opt for choices with positive consequences, which act as the simplest way of managing interpersonal conflicts. In interpersonal conflicts, some people always sound more realistic than others meaning that their ideas are emolliated. Nature dictates that we live together in a society characterized by individuals of varying traits and opinions about life. We must learn to appreciate others and respect their feelings and way of life.
It is advisable that we understand those whom we live with. In studying conflict management and theories that explain the rationale behind it, this essay is going to focus on one type of conflict. The article analyzes the scenarios that lead to conflicts. In so doing, the study is not going choice is not going to be a thin one neither is it going to be a broader one. The choice of preference is interpersonal conflict.
This type of conflict arises out of inconsistencies between two or more people working or wishing to work together. The conflict emerges due to failure by two parties to share a common view in, particularly differing interests and goals. If not properly regulated, this type of conflict would always give rise to other types of conflicts.
This could be either intra group conflict or intergroup conflict. The two would always be similar in that those with more authority or power within the organization would always use their authority or power to influence weaker parties into assimilating their ideas. In a short time, there would be various factions within the organization rallying for different opinions.
Thus, an individual comprehends the general scope of conflict system in an institution or organization. Therefore, the conflicts demand for actions before they escalate to something serious that can affect proper functioning of the organization. Failure by managers to realize this aspect would lead to organizational dysfunction (Michael, Bruno, & David, 2000).
Interpersonal conflict would thus be studied and defined in terms of source and focus on conflict as stated by Anthony, Robert, and Kevin in their 1995 piece ‘The Role Justice Plays in Organizational changes’. According to the book, interpersonal conflict is categorised in various ways as stated in the next section.
Focus of Conflict
People-Focused vs. Issue-Focused
People-focused conflict arises from people’s feelings and emotions. When one generates an issue that would hurt another person’s feeling, especially when discussing emotional issues, there are specific individuals who will always attach feelings to their thoughts. It therefore becomes tricky because the situation would soon deteriorate leading to a major conflict that would make parties engage in physical rivalry.
This is very common in a set up that comprises a smaller group of about two or three individuals. An individual may feel that his or her feelings are disregarded, making him or her develop attitude that are reactive in nature. If not arrested in time, this can deteriorate to become confrontational (Richardson, 1995).
Issue-focused conflict on the other hand is based on issues and events experienced by individuals. This type of conflict is very common in large organizations characterized by individuals from different social backgrounds. Issues are usually settled through peaceful negotiations.
Issues related to sports and entertainments are settled calmly that is, without much ado. However, it is necessary to take caution because should the discussion involve emotional type of people discussed above, tables would turn and the conflict would be people-focused.
Source of Conflicts
Personal differences emerge out of the fact that we are unique in one way or another. It is natural therefore for people to have different set of values, perceptions and expectations. This type of conflict is the easiest to manage as peoples’ perceptions are always shaped by their cultures.
This implies that societal expectations affect an individual’s orientation to the world. As we grow, we get to realize that life is not what we expect to be. Therefore, it is imperative for people to change their perceptions naturally. For instance, an employee expecting to earn a thousand dollars a week would easily be persuaded by the interviewing panel to accept eight hundred dollars. This means that our expectations are not always accurate.
Communication is never effective. The environment we live in presents several barriers to communication. Once this has occurred, there would be a chance for conflict between parties. In an organizational set up with a formal working mechanism, conflicts arising out of informational deficiency should utterly not occur.
There ought to be clearly channeled informational flow with proper semantic requirements. This means that the floor should stay open for clarifications. In case informational deficiency occur, the management should always try to avoid instances that could make subordinates feel inferior. In this regard, there ought to be a formal way of quelling emerging conflicts.
In less formal discussions, these would always be a better source of finding public opinions and even additional information that managers would require. It is therefore advisable for a manager always to consult social groupings (Pasmore, 2009).
The role assigned to an individual in the organization could be conflicting to his expertise. This would make the individual strain when undertaking such duties and this would lead to poor workmanship. The person who assigned the work expects an exemplary result and within the set time.
The person assigned the work may not be able to meet the threshold that is set, leading to a major interpersonal conflict. To avoid this kind of conflict, managers ought to be specific and determine the capabilities of a subordinate before hiring. Before assigning anyone any duty, the manager should ascertain the ability of the individual to provide desired results successfully.
The person assigned a piece of work should also be sincere both to himself and the supervisor and accept only those duties within the scope of his knowledge. There should be a conducive working environment in an organization. This would allow sharing of skills and knowledge among the workers.
The environment in which people live is always a major source of conflict. In the 18th century, there were lots of inter community feuds that were majorly caused by the environment. Lack or scarcity of such important natural resources as water and food would always lead to serious conflict among otherwise very friendly people. In a formal set up, issues such as long working hours, poor remuneration among others would always lead to conflicts within the organization.
Conflict management and the relevance of the conflict management theories
The most important thing in an organization is how the conflicts that are encountered on daily basis are managed. After realizing that conflicts are inevitable, it is thus prudent that we find an amicable way of interacting with one another despite the conflicts. In a formal set up, managers must realize that it is out of conflicts that ideas are allocated or associated to social groupings.
This would imply that employees gather and share their predicaments. It is therefore necessary that managers find a way of getting into such groups and finding solutions to issues employees raise while in groups (Banner, 1995).
Conflict theories and interpersonal conflicts
Conflict theories are perspectives in social science that try to give explanations to the social, political and material inequality of a social group, and how these give rise to conflicts within a group. In this article, it is claimed that conflicts arise due to inequalities within a group, which this is largely debatable.
Through analysis of causes of interpersonal conflicts, we get to realize that lack or inadequacy of information. For instance, inadequate information would always lead to conflicts. A scenario may happen where an individual who is least informed walks into a group and presents his least informed views, and attempts to maintain them.
This would most definitely cause a serious problem within a group. The environment we live in, just as stated earlier, presents us with lots of inadequacies, which in one way or another result into conflicts.
Therefore, theories of conflict try to analyze how these disparities lead to inconsistencies within organizations. They further give directions on how to manage the conflicts in order to prevent a crisis, especially in a formal set up. Some of these theories include are discussed the next chapter (Christopher, Gary & Rebecca, 2006).
This theory derives its meaning from analyzing the changing society. Unlike the traditional theory, which concentrates on giving static explanations as regards to culture, critical theory uses the most current ideas in understanding how the organization functions (Koulen, 2009).
This theory states that in whichever content we are always in, we try to find reasons as to why things happen as they do and how can we make them better. This is true to some extent because it offers an explanation as to why we always appear to be having a perception and explanation of what could be going on in a social gathering. Our contributions and thoughts end up conflicting, resulting to interpersonal conflict.
This could also lead to other forms of conflicts, depending on the number of people involved. As a remedy to interpersonal conflict, this theory demands understanding of the parties involved in a conflict. Interpersonal conflicts dictate that we should be ready to listen to others and drop our views in case others offer better views in relation to the topic at hand (Anthony, Robert, & Kevin, 1995).
Modernism and post modernism theories of conflict
The two theories aim at analyzing conflict in the modern set up. According to these theories, individuals with differing interests characterize the current society. Conflict would always arise when each of the individual tries to impose his or her opinion on others. The unequal distribution of power that has been experienced in the modern day society influences many individuals to act differently. It is true that power and resource allocation cause conflicts both in society and in the organizational structure.
The theories resemble critical theory because they try to analyze the source of conflict and how best can the conflict be managed in the modern day society (Marx, 1988). The theories of modernity identify that the major cause of inconsistency is disparity. In the modern day society, power and socio-economic influence affect the conflict system. Those with the ability to influence others are the owners of opinions and they force others to adopt their views.
The theories of modernity therefore dictate that the opinion setters try as much as possible to create and gunner support for ideas that do not represent selfishness. To place this theory in the organizational context, scholars try to analyze the recent anarchy that the Arab world went through. Through such analysis, we realize that most modern day leaders have realized the importance of power. Leaders have identified that anarchic power is short-lived (Hampshire, 1999).
To conclude, it is observed that conflict is part of our everyday life and we just have to live with it. Conflicts that start as intrapersonal would move easily into becoming interpersonal conflicts, which are wider. In case leaders do not take appropriate caution, conflicts lead to chaos in various sectors of the economy. Modern day analysts therefore call for speedy conflict resolution mechanisms. They caution leaders to be more analytical to ideas before suggesting possible solutions.
In a management set up, conflict is always very necessary because it is through these conflicts that managers realize effects of their actions. In short, conflicts would act as feedback to the actions taken by managers. The easiest way to determine a conflict is by taking part in the less formal social groupings, in which people always speak out their minds. In these groups, managers would always find solutions to their problems, find what eats their subordinates, and therefore move with speed to put off a standstill.
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