What is Conflict, Types and its Causes?

Nuelson Penuel Saturday, June 24, 2023 Basis

In this comprehensive blog post, I will discuss what is conflict, types of conflict and the potential causes of conflict. We also discussed how conflict can be avoided with detailed explanation.

What is is Conflict?

Conflict refers to a disagreement or clash between two or more individuals or groups with differing interests, values, needs, or goals. It can arise in various contexts, including personal relationships, work settings, or even on a global scale. Conflict can occur due to differences in beliefs, opinions, perceptions, or limited resources. ALSO READ: Meaning of Ethnic Conflict Conflicts can take different forms, ranging from mild disagreements to intense disputes. They can be interpersonal (between individuals), intragroup (within a group), intergroup (between different groups), or even intrapersonal (within an individual). Conflicts can be overt and easily observable, or they can be hidden and subtle. Conflicts may arise from a variety of factors, such as misunderstandings, competition for resources, power struggles, differing values or interests, or incompatible goals. They can have both positive and negative consequences, as conflicts can lead to growth, change, and improved relationships, but they can also result in tension, hostility, and damage to relationships if not managed properly. Conflict is a natural and inevitable part of human interaction, and how it is addressed and resolved is crucial for positive outcomes. Conflict resolution involves acknowledging and understanding differing perspectives, finding common ground, and working towards a mutually satisfactory solution. Effective conflict resolution skills are important for maintaining healthy relationships, fostering collaboration, and creating a positive and productive environment.

Types of Conflict

There are several types of conflict that can arise in various contexts. Some common types of conflicts include: 1. Interpersonal conflict: This is a conflict that occurs between two or more individuals. It can stem from personal differences, such as contrasting values or beliefs, communication issues, or personality clashes. 2. Intragroup conflict: This is conflict that occurs within a group or team. It may arise due to differences in opinions, roles, or goals among group members. 3. Intergroup conflict: This is conflict that occurs between different groups or teams. It can arise from competition for resources, power struggles, or differences in goals or values. 4. Intrapersonal conflict: This is a conflict that occurs within an individual. It may involve inner struggles between different desires, values, or beliefs. 5. Organizational conflict: This type of conflict occurs within an organization, often due to differences in objectives, priorities, or decision-making processes. It can occur between individuals, departments, or even between management and employees. 6. Ideological conflict: This is a conflict that arises due to differing ideologies, beliefs, or political views. It can occur on both personal and societal levels and may involve strong emotions and deep-rooted differences. 7. Structural conflict: This is a conflict that arises from structural inequalities or disparities, such as socioeconomic disparities, discrimination, or power imbalances.

What are the Causes of Conflict?

Certainly! Here are some more specific and detailed causes of conflict: 1. Interests and needs: Conflicts often arise when individuals or groups have different interests, needs, or desires. For example, in a workplace, conflicts can occur when employees have competing interests, such as promotions, resources, or recognition. 2. Perceived injustices: Perceptions of unfair treatment or injustices can lead to conflict. This can include issues related to discrimination, favoritism, or unequal distribution of resources. 3. Competition: When there is competition for limited resources, conflicts can arise. Competition can occur in various contexts, such as business rivalries, sports competitions, or territorial disputes. 4. Personality clashes: Conflicts can stem from incompatible personalities or personal differences. These conflicts may arise due to differences in communication styles, values, or approaches to work. 5. Power struggles: Conflicts often occur when there are power imbalances, whether real or perceived. This can involve struggles for control, influence, or authority within personal, professional, or societal relationships. 6. Lack of trust: When trust between individuals or groups is eroded or absent, conflicts are more likely to occur. This can result from past betrayals, broken promises, or a lack of transparency. 7. Cultural or religious differences: Differences in cultural or religious backgrounds can lead to conflicts. Varying beliefs, customs, or practices can create misunderstandings and tensions, particularly if they are seen as incompatible or threatening. 8. Communication breakdown: Ineffective or inadequate communication can contribute to conflicts. This can include poor listening skills, misinterpretation of information, or failure to express oneself clearly. 9. Change and uncertainty: Conflict can arise during periods of change or uncertainty. This can include organizational restructuring, changes in leadership, or shifts in societal norms and values. 10. External influences: Conflicts can be triggered or influenced by external factors, such as economic pressures, political unrest, or societal tensions. These external factors can exacerbate existing conflicts or ignite new ones.

How Can Conflict Be Avoided?

Avoiding conflicts entirely may not always be possible, as conflicts are a natural part of human interactions. However, there are strategies that individuals and organizations can employ to minimize the occurrence of conflicts. Here are some ways to avoid conflict: 1. Effective communication: Clear and open communication is crucial in preventing misunderstandings and conflicts. Active listening, expressing oneself clearly, and seeking clarification can help ensure that messages are accurately conveyed and understood. 2. Establish clear expectations: Setting clear expectations and boundaries helps minimize conflicts arising from differing perceptions or assumptions. This includes clarifying roles, responsibilities, and goals within relationships or organizations. 3. Address issues early on: Nipping problems in the bud can prevent them from escalating into larger conflicts. When issues arise, it is important to address them promptly and constructively, rather than letting them fester and build resentment. 4. Foster a positive work or social environment: Creating a positive and inclusive atmosphere can reduce tensions and promote harmonious interactions. Encouraging respect, collaboration, and empathy among individuals helps create an environment where conflicts are less likely to arise. 5. Practice empathy and understanding: Trying to understand and empathize with others' perspectives can help mitigate conflicts. Recognizing that people have different backgrounds, beliefs, and needs can lead to greater understanding and compromise. 6. Collaborative problem-solving: When conflicts arise, focusing on collaborative problem-solving approaches can be effective. This involves actively listening to all parties' concerns and working together to find mutually agreeable solutions. 7. Mediation or facilitation: In situations where conflicts are unavoidable or have escalated, involving a neutral third party, such as a mediator or facilitator, can help provide an unbiased perspective and facilitate productive discussions. 8. Continuous learning and development: Investing in personal and professional development, including conflict resolution and communication skills, can enhance individuals' ability to navigate conflicts effectively and prevent them from escalating.


In conclusion, conflicts are an inevitable part of human interactions. Conflicts can arise due to differences in perspectives, goals, values, or interests. While it may not always be possible to completely avoid conflicts, there are strategies that individuals and organizations can employ to minimize their occurrence. These strategies include effective communication, setting clear expectations, addressing issues early on, fostering a positive environment, practicing empathy and understanding, using collaborative problem-solving approaches, involving neutral third parties when necessary, and continuously learning and developing conflict resolution skills.

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