Conflict is a normal part of any healthy relationship. After all, two people can’t be expected to agree on everything, all the time. The key is not to avoid conflict but to learn how to resolve it in a healthy way. When conflict is mismanaged, it can cause great harm to a relationship, but when handled in a respectful, positive way, conflict provides an opportunity to strengthen the bond between two people. Whatever the cause of disagreements and disputes, by learning these skills for conflict resolution, you can keep your personal and professional relationships strong and growing.
What causes conflict?
Conflict arises from differences, both large and small. It occurs whenever people disagree over their values, motivations, perceptions, ideas, or desires. Sometimes these differences appear trivial, but when a conflict triggers strong feelings, a deep personal need is often at the core of the problem. These needs can be a need to feel safe, secure, respected, valued, or for greater closeness and intimacy.
Conflicts arise from differing needs
We all need to feel understood, nurtured, and supported, but how we meet these needs vary widely. Our differing needs for feeling comfortable and safe create some of the most difficult challenges in our personal and professional relationships.
Thinking about conflicting needs for safety and stability versus the need to explore and take risks. Toddlers and their parents experience this conflict frequently. Children need to explore and learn, sometimes dangerous places or situations meet their need. The conflict lies in the parents’ need is to protect the child’s, so limiting exposure and exploration is a bone of contention between them.
Both parties respecting the needs of the other will play an important part in the long-term success of many relationships. Each deserves respect and consideration. In personal relationships, a lack of understanding of different needs can result in distance, arguments, and break-ups.
In workplace conflicts, differing needs are often at the heart of bitter disputes, sometimes resulting in broken deals, fewer profits, and lost jobs. Recognizing the legitimacy of conflicting needs being willing to examine them in an environment of compassionate understanding, opens pathways to creative problem solving, team building, and improved relationships.