What Are the 4 Causes of Conflict?

by Mario Ramos; Updated September 26, 2017
It may be easier to handle conflict if you understand its causes.

Conflict is inevitable whenever people work together. It may be easier to address conflict if you understand its four causes. Conflict can occur when people have opposing personalities or hold differing ideas. It may arise when people disagree about which tasks they must complete. People can also clash when they disagree about the best way to achieve their goals.

Differing Aims

Conflict can arise when people have differing aims, for instance when they disagree about the best way to complete a task. For example, in a situation in which two people must complete a task and the deadline is fast approaching, one person may want to complete the task on time, sacrificing the quality of work in order to meet the deadline, while the other person may value the quality of work more than the deadline, ignoring the time constraints in favor of high-quality work. In this example, conflict could arise because the first person might accuse the second of being too slow, and the second person might accuse the first of being too sloppy.

Differing Goals

Conflict can arise when people's goals differ. People have different needs and agendas based on personal objectives or those that are imposed by others. You can see this kind of conflict happen whenever objectives are not communicated clearly by a manager to his employees. Conflict can arise in such an instance because the employees interpret the unclear objectives differently and disagree on what tasks need to be accomplished.

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Differing Ideas

Conflict can arise when people have differing ideas. You can witness this whenever people get into heated arguments over hot-button issues like politics or religion. Such topics often involve deeply held beliefs about the nature of humanity and the individual's role in civilized society. People tend to take attacks on sensitive issues personally and they may find it difficult to separate themselves from their ideas.

Differing Personalities

Conflicts can arise when personalities clash. This can be seen when two stubborn people get into an argument over something insignificant and refuse to back down, which only escalates the conflict. Resolving this type of conflict may require some soul-searching. People often dislike in others the traits they dislike or refuse to acknowledge in themselves. It may help to identify the traits that provoke you. Be aware of them so you can watch out for personality conflicts before they arise.

About the Author

Mario has been acting onstage and on camera for over a decade, beginning in 2002 at university and extending presently to Philadelphia, New York City and even Seoul (South Korea) and Buenos Aires. He is easy to direct and pleasant to work with. Onscreen, Mario comes across as natural and affable, professional and articulate. He currently resides in Boston.

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