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3 Tutorials that teach Sources of Conflict
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Sources of Conflict

Sources of Conflict

Description:

 At the end of this tutorial, the learner will understand the range and nature of factors that can lead to conflict.

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Tutorial

What's Covered


In this lesson, we’ll discuss how conflicts over unmet needs can come from the following types of sources:

  1. External needs
  2. Internal needs
  3. Both external and internal needs

1. EXTERNAL NEEDS

To review, there is a range of factors that can lead to conflict:

  • Unmet needs (interest-based conflict)
  • Lack of information/different interpretations of data (data-based conflict)
  • Clashing or contradictory beliefs (values-based conflict)
  • Relational patterns (relationship-based conflict)
  • External forces (structural conflict)

As you learned in a previous lesson, a need or interest is an action, belief, or physical item that a party perceives as important or essential to his or her satisfaction or happiness.

Every conflict includes parties who have needs and interests. The conflict occurs because one party feels that its need or interest is incompatible with the other party’s.

An external need is a physical, tangible object. Let’s look at some examples of conflicts involving external needs.

Example Interest-based: A family is dividing up the inheritance after a death, and a feud develops over some of the objects. Tangible objects are at the center of this conflict.

Example Structural: You have to drive to work every day, and it takes you two hours to commute. That distance and time creates a structural conflict.

Example Data-based: You really need certain information, and you aren't getting it on time. This information is contained on a spreadsheet, which you need in order to finish the report.

Or economists might have information that they've gathered about the economy, and they have differing opinions about how to interpret that. Acquiring a certain document, or the correct interpretation of information is an external physical need.

Terms to Know

    • Need/Interest
    • An action, belief, or physical item that a party perceives as important or essential to his/her satisfaction.
    • External/Physical Need
    • A need that is a physical, tangible object.

2. INTERNAL NEEDS

An internal need is an emotion or other internal phenomenon. Let’s look at some examples of conflicts involving internal needs.

Example Values-based: You feel that your work is not being recognized, and you'd like some recognition for a job well done at work.

Or you feel as that as parents, you and your partner’s values are different in terms of what you're going to allow the kids to watch on television. You have a particular value, which you need to have recognized in the way you raise your children.

Example Relationship-based: Your friend really likes to spend time talking things out, but you just like to get the job done without a lot of conversation. These are relational types that could find themselves in conflict because of different internal needs.

Term to Know

    • Internal Need
    • A need that is an emotion or other internal phenomenon.

3. BOTH INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL NEEDS

It’s important to realize that in a conflict, internal and external needs are not mutually exclusive.

Example Let’s return to the example of the family feud over heirlooms. When you get to the root of the conflict, you might find that the fight isn’t just about a piece of artwork; perhaps it’s also about:

    • Relational patterns: Maybe the sister feels that her younger brother always gets his way. The sister feels that nobody listens to her.
    • Values: The brother is very nostalgic and would like to keep things. His sister thinks, “No, why don't we sell this off and get the money. We'll divide the money up.”

These issues can manifest themselves in different ways depending on the real source of the conflict.

Example The same thing could be true of a data conflict. You may think the conflict is simply about the spreadsheet you didn't get, but perhaps it's really about communication problems:

    • Maybe there's a misunderstanding about what's important.
    • Maybe faulty communication went out about exactly what was needed in the report.

    You would then discover that the issue here is also one of communication, not just of data.

    Summary


    In this lesson, you learned that conflicts can arise from two types of unmet needs: external (physical, tangible object) and internal (emotion, or other internal phenomenon).

    You now understand that a conflict rarely comes from just one thing; when you get to the bottom of a conflict, you'll often find that it may have been caused by both types of needs being unmet.

    Good luck!

    Source: Adapted from Sophia tutorial by Marlene Johnson.

    TERMS TO KNOW
    • Need/Interest

      An action, belief, or physical item that a party perceives as important or essential to his/her satisfaction or happiness.

    • External/Physical Need

      A need that is a physical, tangible object.

    • Internal Need

      A need that is an emotion or other internal phenomenon.