Last week I mentioned that over the past few months I have had the opportunity to partner in several situations where there has been a need to resolve conflict. Fortunately, in each of these matters I have been in an objective third-party role, and not directly involved in the conflict.
In the ongoing discussion of conflict resolution, we will first explore the types of conflict and then down the blog look at several ways to begin the resolution process. As we begin, it is important to at least describe the core conflict categories so that we can “begin at the beginning.” Namely, we must begin by diagnosing the nature of the conflict.
There are three central conflict categories: conflicts of emotion, conflicts of ideas, and conflicts of values.
A conflict of emotion occurs when two or more people have dissimilar feelings about a topic or person. We can ask ourselves, “What am I hearing in the dispute? Is it principally feeling-facts or fact-facts?” The answer can begin to unravel the source of the conflict.
Which leads to the second option: a conflict of ideas. If the answer to the question posed above is, “I am hearing a dispute over fact-facts,” we may have discovered that the issue is a conflict of ideas. It is important to listen carefully and try to discern what is at the core of the dispute…sometimes it is simply a disagreement over the facts.
Thirdly, there are times when conflict is the consequence of differing values. And when the core issue is a conflict of values – closely held beliefs and standards – it will be important to realize that a change of emotion or facts may well be unworkablefor resolving this type of conflict because a values-based dispute is too central to the divergent belief structures of those involved. We will explore the limitations this imposes later on.
Our goal this week is not to deal with resolution strategies. Rather, it is to outline three core conflict categories. That is because the first step to conflict resolution is to accurately diagnose the nature of the central issue at hand.
Is it a conflict of emotions, a conflict of ideas, or a conflict of values? Knowing the answer can provide a workable point-of-entry as we wade into the resolution processes in the coming weeks.
Are there any additional “central” categories we have missed? Let us know your thoughts…