Conflict Management and Barriers to It

This paper discusses characteristics of conflicts, different types of conflicts, and barriers that conflict management. It is thus divided into an introduction, a conclusion, and a reference list page.


A conflict can be defined as an opposition between ideas or interests between people working or living together. It can also be defined as the act of going against the set rules and laws. Conflict management is the process of planning to avoid conflicts where possible and organizing to resolve conflicts when they occur as quickly as possible (Corvette 2006). An organization needs to manage conflicts effectively and efficiently so as to achieve its goals. This can be done by ensuring that all the employees in the organization have a shared vision of what they are striving to achieve. The organization should also have clear objectives for each department and individuals to avoid conflicts. It is also important for the organization to devise ways of recognizing and resolving conflicts among its employees.

According to (Corvette 2006), one of the characteristics of conflicts is a lack of cooperation between the employees and the top management. This can lead to a reduction in the production level of an organization since the employees may not implement their director’s directives. The use of inappropriate language among the employees is also a characteristic that there is a conflict in the organization. This is because most of the employees who are in a conflict may not wish to speak to each other but circumstances may force them to since work has to go on despite their differences. Conflicts may also be recognized by a lack of trust among the employees. This is because people in conflicts always consider the party they are in conflict with as enemies. Another characteristic is dishonesty. This may lead to some employees telling lies about their co-workers since they may want them to lose their jobs. Some people may also become so annoying to other people they are in conflict with. This is because they may want to frustrate them in whatever they do and make them feel inferior.

People may also become so impatient with each other if they are in a conflict. This may be because they think that the people they are in conflict with are being late on purpose to annoy them.

Another characteristic of conflicts according to (Deutsch 2006) is laziness; employees may lack the motivation to work if they are in conflict with their employer and may just show up for work as a formality but not to work. The employees may also fail to communicate with each other if they are in conflict. Conflicts also lead to disorganization within the organization since each department wants to carry out its duties without consulting the departments they are in conflict with.

These five types of conflicts: relationship, interest, data, structural and value conflicts. Relationship conflict occurs due to poor communication, misperceptions, repetitive negative behaviors, and the presence of strong negative emotions. This often generates disputes and leads to unnecessary disagreement among the employees or departments in an organization. This can be resolved by allowing others to express their emotions and perspectives and learning to respect them for whom they are. Further, the employees should improve communication with each other.

Data conflicts occur when employees do not have the necessary information to make wise decisions or are misinformed. This may also occur if the employees disagree on the relevant data to be used for a certain task. A different interpretation of data and competing assessment procedures among the employees may also result in a conflict. Incompatibilities in data collection may also result in data conflict.

Interest conflicts are a result of competition over perceived employees’ needs. This is brought about by an employee’s belief that in order for her/his needs to be satisfied, other employees’ needs must be forgone. This kind of conflict is mostly expressed in positional terms. This kind of conflict may also be brought about by issues such as money, physical resources, and time. This is because some employees may feel left out in decisions concerning how money is used in their organization or how time is utilized since each employee has different needs to be satisfied. This conflict can be resolved by helping the employees to define and express their individual interests so that all their interests can be jointly addressed.

Structural conflicts are a result of forces external to the people in conflict. These external forces may be limited authority, scarcity of physical resources, geographical constraints, and organizational changes. This kind of conflict can be resolved by helping the employees appreciate the external forces and constraints. The management should also strive to reduce the effects of the external forces on the employees.

Value conflicts are caused by an incompatibility in the employee’s values. Values can be defined as beliefs that people use to give meaning to their lives. This form of conflict happens when people try to compel others to follow their values, or when people follow a set of ideas that have no room for questioning. For example, a Muslim employer may try to force all the employees to adapt his/her kind of beliefs; this will likely lead to conflicts with the non-Muslims.

Value conflict can be resolved by employees learning to respect each other’s beliefs.

The barriers to conflict management are avoidance, non-assertiveness, misanalysis, escalation, dirty fighting, and competition. Avoidance is a barrier to conflict management because people tend to seclude themselves from conflicts instead of solving them. This is because most people tend to have a negative attitude towards conflicts hence do not like to be part of their solutions. Non-assertiveness is another barrier to conflict management because most people do not say what is on their minds. They simply let others tell them what to do, or will not allow others to speak their minds. Hence, they make it hard for the management to solve and avoid conflicts because they do not let them know what they want to be installed or removed. These groups of people rarely make a contribution during general meetings but are always the first to invite others when they think that they have been sidelined in decision-making.

The other barrier to conflict management is misanalysis. This leads to poor management of the conflict because the actual cause of the conflict is not successfully identified. Misanalysis of conflicts may also lead to miscommunication because management may be addressing people who may not have been part of the conflict.

Escalation is another barrier to conflict management. This is usually caused by people trying to put up defensive walls and becoming angry when a conflict occurs. This usually has disastrous effects especially on the people involved in the conflict. Dirty fighting is the worst type of barrier to conflict management. This kind of barrier can include actions like verbally attacking the other party, bringing up past experiences, and destroying rational communication.

Competitiveness of the parties in conflict is also a barrier to conflict management. This is because if the parties in conflict are not willing to comprise their own interests and want a win-lose situation and not a win-win situation, then both parties may end up losing.


Barbara A. Budjac Corvette (2006). Conflict management, Pearson Prentice Hall,

Morton Deutsch, (2006). The handbook of illustrated conflict resolution: theory and practice, John Wiley and son.