The following three types of conflict were first identified by
Gerald Miller and Mark Steinberg. Identifying these classic
types of interpersonal conflict can help to better manage
conflict overall in a group.
Pseudo-Conflict a misleading type of conflict.
Members “think” there are conflicts, when in reality,
In this type of conflict, it is imperative that a true
understanding of the issues and where everyone
stands is accomplished.
Ask for clarification of other’s positions or views of the
Do not jump to conclusions – think positively until all
has been made clear
Listen actively utilizing the following criteria:
Simple Conflict is the most common type of conflict
which happens when two people do not meet eye-to-
eye on a subject.
Issues are clear and the participants can view the
Simple Conflict is a classic case of difference of
Make each of your positions clear
Relate to the issues only; do not make this personal.
Use facts instead of feelings
Used structured strategies such as: define, analyze,
identify, and evaluate.
If necessary – compromise
Decide on areas where you agree
Wait and take time to decide, do not rush the decision.
Ego Conflict is the most difficult to manage because of
the human element involved.
One or both parties feel that they are being personally
This feeling of being attacked puts the parties on
guard and the situation is very emotionally charged.
Try to listen actively
Do not focus on personal traits or issues… keep to the
Do not look for a winner – strive for a solution
Describe your stand, refrain from judging or
evaluating your opponent on a personal level
By instituting rules and guidelines, you can avoid
Focus on areas of agreement whenever possible
Three conflict types were introduced by Miller and
These types are Pseudo, Simple and Ego Conflict
Strategies relating to all three types are:
Keep a cool head
Focus on issues
Question (facts not personalities)
Use problem-solving approaches
Beebe, S (2008). Communication in Small Groups
Principles and Practices. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.