The 11 types of conflicts and how to resolve them
Jul 15, 2021
Conflicts are common in interpersonal relationships, because each person has their idea and vision of the world. This can cause differences that go beyond mere discrepancies.
Poor communication can be the source of the conflict, so this is a necessary element in mediation and proper conflict management. In this article we review the 11 types of conflicts and how to solve them.
Causes of conflicts
Efficient communication It is a necessary tool to understand others and the problems that can lead to conflicts, because it allows us to understand differences in cultural and ideological values that may be at the root of the problem and, furthermore, may prevent the conflict from escaping hands.
The causes of conflicts can be different, since there are different types of conflicts. For example, there may be conflicts of economic interests between two companies, emotional conflicts in internal conflicts in a company person, political conflicts between two countries, religious conflicts between two communities or conflicts of competence between two bodies police.
Although conflict is viewed as negative, at times it can be an opportunity to improve things that are not going well or not working.
Types of conflicts
As you can see, the causes of conflicts can vary: values and ideologies, resources, expectations within relationships between people, clash of personalities, protection of the territory, etc. These causes are usually more common in different types of conflicts. But, How are conflicts classified? What types of conflicts are there?
Conflicts may vary according to their content, their veracity or according to the participants. Below you can find the different types of conflicts and their characteristics.
1. Conflicts according to their veracity
Depending on their veracity, the conflicts can be:
1.1. Real conflicts
Real conflicts are those that actually exist, and that are caused by various causes, whether structural or environmental (economic, legal, relational, etc.), among others.
- For example: Pablo rents his house to Adrián at a monthly cost of 600 euros, because the latter has moved to the big city. Everything is going well until Adrian loses his job and, as a result, stops paying the rent. An economic conflict is created that is real.
1.2. Imaginary conflicts
Imaginary conflicts derive from misunderstandings, interpretations, or perceptions. In this type of conflict there is no will on the part of the parties.
- For example: María thinks that Juan, her partner, no longer feels the same way about her. Juan has run out of battery and has not been able to call him as he does every night. In reality, Juan is worried about not being able to call him, but he does not have the possibility to do so at the moment. There is no conflict, but Maria thinks that the reason Juan doesn't call her is because he is with another woman.
1.3. Invented conflicts
Invented conflicts, as with imaginary ones, are not real. However, unlike these, there is an intention on the part of one of the parties that, generally, wants to obtain some benefit. This makes much of this phenomenon actually manipulation or gaslighting.
- For example: a person who simulates an accident so that insurance will pay to repair a rear blow that occurred because he himself hit a light pole while he was backing up.
2. Conflicts according to the participants
Depending on the actors involved in the conflict, it may be:
2.1. Intrapersonal conflict
This conflict occurs internally, in the mind of the individual. This means that it has its origin in private events: thoughts, values, principles, emotions... These conflicts can have different degrees.
- For example: from a daily conflict about what to eat today, to an existential crisis that causes great suffering to the person who suffers it. Intrapersonal conflicts can help us grow as people if we resolve them satisfactorily.
- Related article: "Existential crisis: when we do not find meaning in our life”
2.2. Interpersonal conflict
Interpersonal conflicts are those that occur in the interaction processes between people. They usually appear quickly, since it is only necessary for a single person to feel attacked to start one, which means that it can be born as a result of misunderstandings. They can be caused by practically any reason, from jealousy to conflict of interest in relation to the use of a type of resource.
- For example: between two friends. The origin can be found in a clash of personalities, values, opinions or expectations.
2.3. Intragroup conflict
Intergroup conflicts occur between members of a group or team, for various reasons: due to interpersonal differences or because some of the group participants do not share the ideas of the organization, among others. These types of conflicts can destabilize the smooth running of a team or group and affect its effectiveness and cohesion, since they create concern extra or even completely block the collective's ability to operate, something that in turn can produce more conflicts in a reaction in chain.
2.4. Intergroup conflict
Intergroup conflict is a conflict between groups and can be very destructive, because, in extreme cases, The violence derived from this type of conflict is aimed at group reinforcement and can even be justified. It usually has its causes in ideologies, prejudices or territorial disputes.
On the other hand, unlike what happens in interpersonal conflicts, it is more difficult for them to arise from misunderstandings, since the presence of other people makes the "contagion effect" necessary to be considered an intragroup conflict delay the appearance of this. In addition, a greater number of observers makes it less likely that misunderstandings may appear and persist over time.
- For example: the conflict between two companies for economic reasons, a war between peoples for their religion or between "hooligans" for their soccer team.
- If you want to know more about the negative impact of intergroup conflicts, you can read our article: “Hooligans: The Psychology of Soccer Hooligans”
3. According to the content
Depending on the content, the conflict may be:
3.1. Relational conflicts
These conflicts occur between members of a family, friends or partner.
- For example: due to poor communication between the two members of a marriage, it ends up arguing about any everyday trifle.
3.2. Conflicts of interest
Conflicts of interest have to do with motivations and the needs of each person or group and with the resources present at that time.
- For example: when a worker wants more money for the day he works and the company does not want to pay him more.
3.3. Ethical and values conflicts
They have to do with the culture and environment in which the person has grown up. They are frequent and complex, since it is not easy for a person to change the principles that govern her behavior. In the case of ethical conflict, it usually occurs when a person has to make a decision that does not agree with her deepest values.
3.4. Leadership and power conflicts
Leadership conflicts primarily affect organizations and can affect performance and the health of workers. A characteristic phenomenon of conflicts has to do with the power struggle, since there are many the authors speak of the relationship between conflict and power, as it is one of the most usual.
3.5. Personality conflicts
Personality is a set of stable traits and qualities that make up a person's way of being and make us unique. Personality, being an inflexible phenomenon,can be the basis of many intergroup conflicts.
How to resolve conflicts
Conflicts, on many occasions, can lead to positive changes. For this it is necessary that they are managed correctly. It is important to understand that making a correct diagnosis of the conflict will determine the success in solving the different problems. If we approach an intergroup or interindividual conflict as if it were an intraindividual conflict, the chances of success may be slim.
For example, we may find ourselves working in a company in which the main problem is bad practices of the human resources department, which are generating a role conflict in the workers. They do not know exactly what their roles are, and this conflict creates stress and discomfort for employees. If we approach this situation as a worker problem, we will be attacking the wrong target.
Perhaps we can reduce the symptoms momentarily, but the problem will still be there, in organizational mismanagement. Therefore, before taking any action to alleviate the effects of the conflict, it is necessary to know what the root or basis of the problem is.
However, there are some principles that we must apply if we want to resolve the conflict:
- Don't pretend the problem doesn't exist. Face it and try to figure it out.
- Be critical and analyze your failures.
- Treat the other party with respect and politeness.
- Explain your opinions and establish the points of connection.
- Be empathetic to the other party and understand their position.
- Avoid confrontation.
- Improve communication: active listening, assertiveness ...
If you want to know how to improve your negotiation skills, this post may interest you: "How to be a great negotiator, in 10 psychological keys".