Human beings experience internal and external conflicts on daily basis as they struggle with temptations and dilemmas they encounter and create (Deutsch, Coleman & Marcus, 2006, p.294). For example, a cigarette addict (suffocating with emphysema) determined to quit smoking may find himself/herself fighting the urge on whether to light the next cigarette or not.
Such internal conflicts are all-pervading as humans attempt to pursue a complex achievement or adhere to a health routine such as medications, prescribed diets or exercise schedules. This paper will discuss some salient features of internal and external conflicts and suggest how people can mitigate them.
Conflict and stress are closely connected and work hand in hand in a manner that they weaken rational problem solving at the same time escalating self-defeating and irrational hot behavior (Rahim, 2011, p. 67). In this context, stress amplifies the likelihood for conflict which in turn increases stress level thereby generating a destructive gush of impulsive hot-system reactions.
As a result, the likelihood of rational and effective conflict resolution if further undermined. Nonetheless, a number of studies have been done on this impasse and numerous solutions have been suggested on how handle conflicts in a constructive way (Deutsch, Coleman & Marcus, 2006, p.302).
The marshmallow test is one such example. For this case, delay of satisfaction and frustration tolerance is augmented if an individual can convert his/her average waiting time into an enjoyable, non-waiting state. There are two basic ways to accomplish this. One is by rerouting concentration and thoughts away from the exasperating elements of the delay of satisfaction and concentrating instead on pleasurable things.
This type of distraction can be realized by taking part in mentally or overtly activities in the course of the delay period so as to repress the stress associated with waiting for the desired outcome.
Distraction strategies such as time-outs are usually employed on a daily basis in conflict situations to allow people suppress the escalating conflict and concentrate on something else in order to calm down and take a fresh look (Deutsch, Coleman & Marcus, 2006, p.302).
Second, the conflict arising from the delay period can also be alleviated by altering the manner in which people mentally embody the outcomes they are working or waiting for. Given the adverse effects of stress, the ability to manage stress is a critical aspect in conflict resolution.
The ability to manage and alleviate stress enhances not only self-control and self-cooling but also the ability to produce and evaluate potential solutions to the conflict. The ability to control stress can thus imply the difference between repressing hot desires and pouring out hysterically.
It is against this background that Gottman and others (working with married couples with severe conflicts in their relationships) discovered that stress management tactics such as mediation, exercise and self-soothing habits for relaxing play important roles in terms of marital contentment and conflict resolution (Deutsch, Coleman & Marcus, 2006, p.304).
Severe conflicts, whether internal or external normally produce strong emotional excitement that can easily set off automatic reflective responses including hostility and fight or evasion and flight. These spontaneous responses often contribute to adverse long-term outcomes for the concerned parties.
As the discussion above has elucidated, there are a variety of conflict management strategies (such as time-outs, reflection and mediation) that can be employed to facilitate the shift from hot impulsive responses to a cooler and efficient modes of cognitive problem solving.
Deutsch, M., Coleman, P.T., & Marcus, E.C. (Eds.). (2006). The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Rahim, M.A. (Eds.). (2011). Managing Conflict in Organizations. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.