In this lesson, we’ll discuss how parties often perceive conflict in one of two ways:
In terms of conflict, a disadvantage is a perception that continuing a conflict impedes a party's goals or needs.
Let’s say you are considering litigation, but the costs are so high that you think it's going to really impede your needs. These may not just be monetary costs; they could include the time and energy that you'll have to put into the lawsuit. Thus you may decide that making your legal case is more of a disadvantage than an advantage.
Let's say you've been dating someone for some time, and there always seems to be a little bit of conflict erupting in this relationship. You care for the person and enjoy his/her company, but it just feels like hard work. After weighing the pros and cons, you decide that putting up with the conflicts is too much of a disadvantage. They are draining your personal energy and time, so you end the relationship.
Let’s look at a more in-depth example of how a personal conflict may appear disadvantageous.
John is having a conflict with his brother-in-law, Steve, over some work that Steve said he would do but never completed. This dispute has brought some tension into the relationship, and these two men now don’t spend very much time together. However, the families have always enjoyed being together; in fact, there’s a family gathering coming up.
John begins to think, “Maybe I should just let this go. It's not that big a deal, and it could really damage family relationships. I noticed that our kids are feeling a little uncomfortable whenever we bring them over there because they're aware of the tension. This conflict is too much of a disadvantage, as it's damaging relationships in my family.”
An advantage is a perception that continuing a conflict in and of itself fulfills a party's goals or needs.
Let’s say there’s a crusade for human rights. Actually being involved in that conflict could feel advantageous because the conflict itself is bringing an important issue to the forefront. Now that news stations are covering the crusade, and people are talking about it, the issue is getting noticed.
The United States Congress is made up of two parties, one of which is in power and may not want to compromise on an issue. This party may want to keep a conflict going because it feels doing so is to its advantage in terms of legislation. In particular, if this party is in the majority, it may feel that it doesn’t really have to compromise or listen to the other side. Giving the other side any leverage might cause the majority to lose things that it doesn’t want to lose in the process.
If an individual or group sees a conflict as being to their advantage, this could be a disincentive to resolve the conflict. To illustrate this, let’s return to the idea of a human rights crusade.
You have a cause that you really believe in. In relation to this cause, you are taking part in a boycott or protest movement. You and your group don’t really want to settle this issue right now because you feel the boycott itself is giving power and energy to your cause. It’s also attracting more people to the movement.
Building a movement to support you in the initiative that you have undertaken is one of the most important things that you and your group can do. Resolving the conflict too soon may cause you to lose the leverage you already have, so continuing it is to your advantage.
Consider the most recent conflict you encountered in your life:
In this lesson, you learned that conflicts can be perceived as either advantageous or disadvantageous to the parties involved. You now understand that if a conflict is perceived as advantageous, that perception could result in a party not wanting to resolve the conflict quickly.
Source: Adapted from Sophia tutorial by Marlene Johnson.
A perception that continuing a conflict in and of itself fulfills a party's goals or needs.
A perception that continuing a conflict impedes a party's goals or needs.