Conflict: Contradict and Comprehend

Jordan T. Nicodemus 
Principal – I
Ricardo V. Adriano Elementary School

The history of mankind is filled with disputes, quarrels and even wars that basically arose from humanity’s constant conquest for power, territory and resources; and our country’s very own historical past is no exception. From the Spanish occupation, through the American conquest, across the Japanese occupation, our Filipino ancestors have endured all challenges collectively identified as “conflict”.

Conflict is a serious disagreement or argument, typically a protracted one. It may also be defined as an inconsistency of goals or values between two or more parties in a human relation, combined with attempts to control each other and hostile feelings toward each other (Fisher, 1990). Organizational conflict, or workplace conflict, on the other hand, is a state of disharmony caused by the actual or perceived opposition of needs, values and interests between people working together.

Conflict happens between people in all kinds of human relationships and in all social settings. Because of the wide range of possible differences among people, the absence of conflict usually signals the lack of meaningful interaction. Conflict by itself is neither good nor bad. However, the means by which conflict is handled determines whether it is constructive or destructive (Deutsch and Coleman, 2000). The inconsistency or difference may occur in reality or may only be perceived by the parties involved. Nevertheless, the opposing actions and the antagonistic emotions are very real hallmarks of human conflict. Conflict has the ability for either a great deal of destruction or much inspirational and positive social change (Kriesberg, 1998). It is therefore essential to understand the basic processes of conflict so that we can work to amplify productive outcomes and minimize destructive ones.

The effective management of conflicts is based in part of a better understanding of the different ways by which conflict emerges and is resolved. Conflict is examined at five different levels within an organization. Intra-personal conflicts occur when individuals experience goal conflict or cognitive conflict within themselves. Conflicts at this level may lead to personal stress, anxiety and tension. Inter-personal conflict occurs between two persons or parties. Depending on the conflict handling styles of the parties, the outcomes of the interpersonal parties may represent integrative solutions (win-win outcomes), or distributive solutions (win-lose outcomes). A collaborative style that is both assertive and cooperative is generally considered the best way to achieve integrative solutions. Minimizing intra-group conflict (conflict between persons within a group) seem to promote more favorable interpersonal relations within groups, but, it is not clear that such conditions are sufficient to produce increased quality and quantity of output. In some cases, inter-group conflict (conflict between groups) seems to lead to better productivity. However, inter-group seems to have a number of negative side effects including hostility and misperceptions which should be managed carefully.

Every organization encounters conflict on a daily basis. It happens on the job, between groups, in our society, within families and right in the middle of our most private relationships. It is something that cannot be avoided. Though it is an inevitable fact of organizational life, it is not inevitable for conflict to result in destructive consequences for any organization. Depending on how the conflict is supervised, the negative effects may be minimized and there also may be positive constructive results. Whether we like it or not, conflict will always occur in every arena of our daily life. It is because of our differences in opinions, beliefs, values and principles. But that diversity is what makes us human.
Let us see conflict as an opportunity to work and grow together, understanding each other in the course.