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What is conflict?

Conflict is normal. Conflict comes from differences. Different ideas can fit together well but they can also cause conflict.

Sometimes unexpected things happen, or you will have a different view to someone else. When this stops you from being yourself or harms your relationships with the other person, you may have a conflict. Conflicts need to be dealt with early so that the situation does not get worse.

Conflict can happen for various reasons:

Conflict over resources

  • When people have unequal access to resources or different ideas about how resources should be used.Example: Should we use the funding that we have to build a disability ramp or should we use it to hire more people?

Conflict over values or beliefs

  • When people think differently about what is "good" or "bad", "right" or "wrong", "fair" or "unfair".
  • When people feel they are "forced" to accept or even adapt to someone else's values or beliefs.Example: Should the promotion be given to Alex because he/she has the right skills, or Kim because he/she and his/her family need it?

Hostility between people

  • When people develop strong negative emotions towards another. This can break down trust between people.

Power issues: Who has power and who may feel powerless?

  • When people feel power and authority are used unfairly, or when authority lines are unclear, they can get frustrated, confused and angry.

The "what happened" conflict

  • When people have different memories about what happened and each person believes their version is correct, this often leads to a conflict about who is "right".

Bullying, harassment and discrimination

  • When people are treated unfairly or unequally, or feel intimidated, due to reasons such as race, religion, colour, sex, age, or disability.
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Last updated: 24 Sep 2019