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Conflict Resolution Theories Essay

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Updated: Jan 14th, 2022

There are numerous grounds for conflict in the world. Some conflicts are the result of personality differences. Due to personality differences, people look at issues from different perspectives (Deutsch, Coleman and Marcus, p. 331). I recently found myself in conflict with a new security guard at a café. The guard wanted to inspect my backpack as part of the security procedures at the café. I had no problem with this except that the guard did not request for my cooperation politely. I raised the issue of his impoliteness using a harsh tone, but the situation quickly spiraled into a battle of wills. The café supervisor, who knows me in person, came and calmed us down. This incident left me thinking about the reasons behind the conflict.

I now realize that the issue escalated because of differences in our personalities. The guard has a strong and overbearing personality. This trait works well for a person in his position because of the necessity to confront uncooperative individuals. On the other hand, I have a dominant personality. I do not enjoy feeling subdued. If the guard were polite to me, the conflict would not have arisen. On the other hand, if I cooperated with him, the conflict would not have escalated. Either way, this example illustrates the potential for personality-based conflicts.

Psychodynamic theories stress on the influence of conscious and unconscious motives on a person (Walsh, p. 33). These theories propose that the ego is the main issue when it comes to conflicts. It includes the expression of an individual’s conceptualization of his identity and other subconscious influences that propel him to act in certain ways (Walsh, p. 33). As an expert, I see the problem in the conflict with the guard as a clash of egos. He must have felt justified to impose his will based on his understanding of the duty of securing the café. On the other hand, I felt dehumanized by his impolite tone. To resolve this conflict, I believe we both needed to understand the issues that affected each other’s ego in order to know how to handle ourselves.

Need theories assume that “people act to satisfy their needs” (Tosi, Mero and Rizzo, p. 130). A need arises from the realization that there is a difference between present circumstances and the desired future. The conflict with the guard came about because I felt that the guard was not showing me respect as he executed his duties. I responded the way I did because I needed respect from him. To avoid such an occurrence again, we need to realize that failure to maintain the boundaries of social etiquette results in the emergence of certain needs that may evoke unpleasant reactions.

Trait theories postulate that individuals with certain traits tend to act in certain ways. The traits predispose them to certain actions that lead to certain consequences. In the conflict situation above, the theory promotes the understanding that each of us acted the way we did because of our traits. This understanding would help avoid further conflict by allowing each of use to appreciate that we have the potential to cause issues to escalate if we feel disrespected. On my part, it means that I need to watch out for conflict each time I come across another dominant person in order to avoid conflict.

Works Cited

  1. Deutsch, Morton, Peter T Coleman and Eric Colton Marcus. The Handbook of Conflict Resolution. San Fransisco CA: John Wiley & Sons, 2006.
  2. Tosi, Henry L, Neal P Mero and John R Rizzo. Managing Organizational Behavior. Cambridge, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2000.
  3. Walsh, Joseph. Theories for Direct Social Work Practice. Belmont CA: Cengage learning, 2010.
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