All conflicts are united by tension between divergent positions. While it can be positive, as it stimulates change, it can also be the start of a disaster if it's not handled properly.
Last update: Augusts 15, 2022
The most common conflicts arise from different forms of disagreement. This is because sometimes the interests or goals of two or more individuals or groups are divergent. Sometimes the differences are such that agreement is impossible.
What characterizes all conflicts is the presence of positions that are mutually exclusive, partially or totally. In principle, the coexistence of these two positions is not possible. Thus, either one of the two is imposed or an alternative is reached that satisfies the parties involved.
Knowing the different types of conflicts is important because it allows you to better define the nature of the disagreement, facilitating the paths towards a solution. In general, we can talk about three types of conflicts, as we will see later.
In harmony even the little things grow, in the contrast even the biggest ones vanish.
The most common conflicts
1. Based on content
When we talk about content-based conflict types, we refer to the explicit motivations or purposes that mark the clash. From this point of view, the conflict can revolve around:
- Power. It occurs when the dominance or legitimacy of one power is challenged by another. It is not negative in itself, as it favors checks and balances in democracies.
- Interests. It occurs when the goals of one person or group conflict in some way with the goals of another person or group. What benefits some may harm others to some extent.
- Values. In this case it is the hierarchy of values or the values themselves that are in opposition to each other. There are two or more ethical systems competing and the parties perceive that validating the other means sacrificing their own worldview.
- Personality. It corresponds to the differences that arise from incompatible ways of being and acting. For example, when someone is very noisy and the other person is annoyed by her presence.
- Communication. In this case, there may not be a real conflict, but rather poor communication management. This leads to deepening or highlighting differences that may not be as relevant.
2. According to the interaction
Conflicts can also be classified according to the agents involved. This categorization is useful for defining who the active parties in a disagreement are, which also helps to delimit possible resolutions. Based on the aforementioned criterion, the most common conflicts are of the following type:
- Intergroup. Between two or more groups. In this case, the conflict involves competing communities. The most obvious example is a war.
- Intragroup. It occurs when factions are formed within a group that confront or generate tensions between them. It can occur in any type of group, including the family, for example.
- interpersonal. The conflict affects two specific individuals. It does not directly involve any collective. Examples are conflicts between two co-workers or in a couple.
- Intrapersonal. In this case there is no difference with the others, but the battlefield is oneself. There are conflicting forces, motivations or interests within the person himself.
3. Most common conflicts according to the degree of reality
It might surprise you, but these conflicts are very common. In this case, the defining factor is perception and intention.
This refers to the fact that not all conflicts are equally real, nor do they have the same practical implications. Within this group we find the following types of conflicts:
- Reale. The conflict exists objectively. There are, in fact, goals, interests or attitudes that collide with each other.
- Fictional. It corresponds to cases in which there is no objective conflict, but rather an erroneous perception. A person believes that there are differences with another person, when in reality this is not the case. He or she perceives it as such, but it is not true.
- Invented. This is an imaginary conflict, but in this case it is deliberately generated. It is based on lies and manipulation. For example, when someone accuses another of being aggressive in order to damage his image in front of others.
It should be made clear that all types of conflict also have different levels of intensity. In some cases they are nothing more than mild tensions, while in others they can have serious consequences.