Types of Conflict – Four Classifications

When you think of the different types of conflict, you might instantly think of the ones referred to in literature, especially in fiction. They can be applied to real life, of course. However, there are types of conflict which are easily identifiable in our contemporary times.

Before going any further, let us first give a brief description of what conflict is. There are actually a lot of ways to define conflict due to how it is used in many areas. Hence, to keep it simple for the layman, conflict pertains to the opposing ideas and actions of different entities, thus resulting in an antagonistic state. Conflict is an inevitable part of life. Each of us possesses our own opinions, ideas and sets of beliefs. We have our own ways of looking at things and we act according to what we think is proper. Hence, we often find ourselves in conflict in different scenarios; may it involve other individuals, groups of people, or a struggle within our own selves. Consequently, conflict influences our actions and decisions in one way or another.

Conflict is classified into the following four types:

  • Interpersonal conflict refers to a conflict between two individuals. This occurs typically due to how people are different from one another. We have varied personalities which usually results to incompatible choices and opinions. Apparently, it is a natural occurrence which can eventually help in personal growth or developing your relationships with others. In addition, coming up with adjustments is necessary for managing this type of conflict. However, when interpersonal conflict gets too destructive, calling in a mediator would help so as to have it resolved.
  • Intrapersonal conflict occurs within an individual. The experience takes place in the person’s mind. Hence, it is a type of conflict that is psychological involving the individual’s thoughts, values, principles and emotions. Interpersonal conflict may come in different scales, from the simpler mundane ones like deciding whether or not to go organic for lunch to ones that can affect major decisions such as choosing a career path. Furthermore, this type of conflict can be quite difficult to handle if you find it hard to decipher your inner struggles. It leads to restlessness and uneasiness, or can even cause depression. In such occasions, it would be best to seek a way to let go of the anxiety through communicating with other people. Eventually, when you find yourself out of the situation, you can become more empowered as a person. Thus, the experience evoked a positive change which will help you in your own personal growth.
  • Intragroup conflict is a type of conflict that happens among individuals within a team. The incompatibilities and misunderstandings among these individuals lead to an intragroup conflict. It is arises from interpersonal disagreements (e.g. team members have different personalities which may lead to tension) or differences in views and ideas (e.g. in a presentation, members of the team might find the notions presented by the one presiding to be erroneous due to their differences in opinion). Within a team, conflict can be helpful in coming up with decisions which will eventually allow them to reach their objectives as a team. However, if the degree of conflict disrupts harmony among the members, then some serious guidance from a different party will be needed for it to be settled.
  • Intergroup conflict takes place when a misunderstanding arises among different teams within an organization. For instance, the sales department of an organization can come in conflict with the customer support department. This is due to the varied sets of goals and interests of these different groups. In addition, competition also contributes for intergroup conflict to arise. There are other factors which fuel this type of conflict. Some of these factors may include a rivalry in resources or the boundaries set by a group to others which establishes their own identity as a team.

Conflict may seem to be a problem to some, but this isn’t how conflict should be perceived. On the other hand, it is an opportunity for growth and can be an effective means of opening up among groups or individuals. However, when conflict begins to draws back productivity and gives way to more conflicts, then conflict management would be needed to come up with a resolution.