Elements of Conflict: Diagnose What’s unable to do Wrong

Basic facets of problem contribute to disputes and cause them come escalate. We describe three primary facets of conflict and also suggest ways to attend to them productively in your negotiations.

By Katie Shonk — top top July 29th, 2021 / conflict Resolution


In the warmth of conflict, it can be daunting to think rationally about how you got where you are and how you could make things better. But by acquisition a break to take into consideration the elements of conflict, you have the right to move toward a more rational assessment of the dispute and come up with means to deal with it.

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3 elements of Conflict

Although there are many aspects of conflict, the adhering to three are among the most notable:

1. Interests.

Conflicts often arise as soon as we fail to closely think through our own interests. For example, you might take violation after hearing v the grapevine the a coworker took full credit because that a job you perfect together. You definitely have a momentary interest in correcting the false impression, if the true. In ~ the very same time, you might be overlooking a better long-term interest: contributing to a functional workplace where conflicts are handled productively and also relationships thrive stronger. When you bring such long-term interests to the forefront, you become much more capable of looking right into the rumor closely rather than instantly confronting her coworker.

When disputes escalate, a brand-new interest deserve to emerge: the desire to punish or otherwise damage the other party for regarded wrongdoing, create Gabriella Blum and Robert H. Mnookin in The Negotiator’s Fieldbook (ABA, 2006). This attention in exacting revenge frequently arises as soon as we assume the worst around the other party and also their contribution to the conflict.

More specifically, due to the fundamental attribution error, a pervasive human tendency, as soon as things walk wrong in ours lives, we often blame determinants outside of our control; but when things go wrong because that others, we often tend to blame fundamental aspects of their character. For example, if her roof leaks a year after it’s been replaced, you might accuse the roofing agency of act a poor job, if the roofing firm may blame girlfriend for no cleaning your gutters. The truth may lie in a gray area in between.

When managing dispute in organizations and beyond, acknowledging our very own potential contribution to conflict can assist us emphasis on our irreversible interests and negotiate solutions.


2. Alternatives.

Our options are another one of the primary elements of conflict. Skilled negotiators recognize the prominence of identifying their best alternate to a negotiated agreement, or BATNA before talks gain underway. When we have a strong sense of our BATNA, we will place ourselves to expropriate no less than us can acquire elsewhere and also increase ours bargaining power.

Parties in conflict also need to think about their BATNA—that is, what they will perform if lock fail to solve the dispute. Depending on the situation, this may mean finishing a relationship, do a officially complaint, or even filing a lawsuit.

Unfortunately, we often tend to be overly optimistic about our odds of prevailing in litigation, arbitration, and also other high-risk approaches of conflict resolution. Researchers have found that we tend to evaluate the likelihood that a referee or other arbiter will preeminence in our favor, note Blum and Mnookin.

To avoid this trap, we (and our lawyers) have to spend at least as much time thinking about the evidence and also opinions that the various other side would current as we spend thinking around the merits of our own case. As soon as we do, we deserve to arrive at a much more rational assessment of what happened—and become much more willing to negotiate an end to the conflict.

3. Identity.

Conflicts regularly tap right into our deepest feeling of our own identity. To take a pair of instances of conflict situations, if your ceo accuses you of act a negative job on one assignment, you might feel as if your identity as a skilled, hard-working employee is under attack. And also if you shed your temper as soon as scolding your boy for make a mess just after you’ve cleaned the house, you might question your identity as a reasonable, empathic parent.

Because castle lead us to question our necessary competence and goodness, such “identity quakes” can knock united state off-balance and worsen conflict, write Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen in their publication Difficult Conversations: exactly how to talk about What problem Most. When the various other party feels similarly attacked, we might conclude the partnership is past repair.

According to Stone, Patton, and also Heen, critical step in dispute management is come explore and also acknowledge our identity issues. We must think with our own vulnerabilities—some the which may date back to childhood—and exactly how they may be resonating in the present. If you regularly felt overlooked as a child, you may be quick to think that others are excluding or ignoring you.

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Remember the such conclusions have the right to be one oversimplification or misreading the the problem. Through considering our contributions and forgiving ourselves because that our missteps, we deserve to become more capable that listening to the various other party’s perspective—an vital step in addressing conflict.

What other aspects of conflict have you observed in your very own disputes, and how have you addressed them?