Growing through Conflict #4: Identify the “kind” of Conflict

Click here for the rest of the Growing through Conflict series.

As I see it, there are essentially three types of conflict: (a) personal offense, (b) disagreement, or (c) miscommunication.

Personal Offense

All conflicts carry a degree of emotion—this is what makes them so painful—however conflicts are especially charged emotionally when someone has been personally wounded. When a person feels attacked or devalued, the resolution of the conflict is more about humility and apology than words and ideas. “Right” or “Wrong” matter very little when someone is hurt.

Miscommunication

This kind of conflict is difficult to discern without reflection and conversation. Often two people enter a conflict believing they disagree. Once a conversation is started, they realize there was simply a miscommunication. Miscommunications don’t make the conflict any less real, but they can be easier to resolve.

Warning: For conflict avoiders who lack integrity, they might have a strong disagreement but play it off as a miscommunication to deflate the tension. This is a short term solution that often leads to devastating effects in the long term.

Disagreement

Not everyone has the same point of view. Most of the time, this is a good thing because we need the wisdom that comes from a different perspective. Disagreements are about individual differences, and when this kind of conflict happens, there are essentially three options: (a) Change your thinking, (b) hope they change their thinking, or (c) compromise and find some middle ground.

The word “kind” is misleading, since conflicts don’t fit into nice and neat little boxes. It’s more accurate to say three “flavors” of conflict, and while there is often a dominant flavor, the other flavors are typically mixed in too.

What do you think? Are there other “kinds” / flavors of conflict? What am missing?

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