Conflict: Definition <ul><li>Peace and conflict research assume that </li></ul><ul><li>conflicts are the expression of opposing interests </li></ul><ul><li>that they are characteristic of modern societies </li></ul><ul><li>that they are endemic in modern societies </li></ul>A conflict exists when two people wish to carry out acts which are mutually inconsistent .
They may both want to do the same thing, such as eat the same apple, or they may want to do different things where the different things are mutually incompatible, such as when they both want to stay together but one wants to go to the cinema and the other to stay at home A conflict is resolved when some mutually compatible set of actions is worked out. The definition of conflict can be extended from individuals to groups (such as states or nations), and more than two parties can be involved in the conflict. The principles remain the same.“(M.Nicholson: Rationality and the Analysis of International Conflict. 1992:11)
Contrary to earlier expectations, the <ul><li>analysis </li></ul><ul><li>prevention </li></ul><ul><li>management, or </li></ul><ul><li>resolution </li></ul>of conflicts does not aim at the elimination of conflict, and even less at the elimination of opposing interests.
Its aim is the search for such forms of conflict behaviour which allow a non-violent handling of interest oppositions in an orderly, pre-arranged process, the course and result of which will be accepted by all parties involved. Since we are different and we all want different things conflicts are not only inevitable but also another way in which human beings relate. Although most definitions of confict refers to a relation beetween two people, a conflict can be internal to individuals too. Internal conflicts occur for example when one is confronted with a problem that presents difficult choices.
One must make a decision one way or another. This kind of conflict has been the object of philosophy, theology and psychology among other social sciences. The five basic ways of adressing conflict that were presented on the video correspond to the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. This instrument is designed to measure a person's behavior in conflict situations. "Conflict situations" are defined here as those in which the concerns of two people appear to be incompatible.
In such situations, we can describe an individual's behavior along two dimensions: (1) assertiveness, the extent to which the person attempts to satisfy his own concerns, and (2) cooperativeness, the extent to which the person attempts to satisfy the other person's concerns.
These two basic dimensions of behavior define five different modes for responding to conflict situations: Competing is assertive and uncooperative—an individual pursues his own concerns at the other person's expense Accommodating is unassertive and cooperative—the complete opposite of competing. Avoiding is unassertive and uncooperative—the person neither pursues his own concerns nor those of the other individual.
Collaborating is both assertive and cooperative—the complete opposite of avoiding. Compromising is moderate in both assertiveness and cooperativeness. The objective is to find some expedient, mutually acceptable solution that partially satisfies both parties. Each of us is capable of using all five conflict-handling modes. None of us can be characterized as having a single style of dealing with conflict.