Conflict has “bad” Connotation

Webster’s Dictionary defines conflict as a “fight, battle or war.”  My initial reaction to this definition was, can conflict be a good thing?  Conflict generally has a bad connotation surrounding it. Not only is there bad conflict but there is also good conflict and we see examples of both in everyday life. 

Conflict arises from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes or demands.  Conflict can be internal or external and all people deal with it in different ways, the most common form of resolving conflict is some form of confrontation.  I cannot go on without saying that there is another popular method for resolving conflict, which is ignoring the problem all together.  People who like to avoid conflict are often trying to keep the peace amongst people.  The problem with ignoring conflict is that the problem will still persist until it is dealt with or someone else handles it. 

In the 21st century change is continuous and always occurring.  The slogan leading Barack Obama’s presidential campaign “Change We Can Believe In” is one example of how the world is ready for change.  However, there is one setback; the more that change is added to an environment the higher the level of conflict there will be.  Conflict is often slower to arise between people and organizations in a normal environment without change.  Living a conflict-free life is all but impossible in a world full of change. 

How conflict is handled determines whether it is good or bad.  Many of us do not like conflict but it can really be a good thing, especially when it helps a team or employees identify the best possible ideas.  When emotional responses are set aside progress can really start.  A key for conflict to go well is to have good communication skills.  The tone of an employee’s voice alone can dictate how the conflict is dealt with.  There are always problems that have to be dealt with and if handled correctly they could make some good out of the bad.     

There are a number of reasons why conflict can go bad very quickly or even be doomed from the start.  The way that an individual decides to deal with an issue sets the scene for results.  The first attempt to deal with conflict should be non-confrontational and more of a relaxed approach to achieve the best results.  That method does not work with all conflicts and sometimes laying down the law is the only option.  Being knowledgeable of the situation and who you are dealing with is also very important.  When dealing with conflict avoid playing the blame game, not listening, being defensive and trying to win. 

Personally I like to think of conflict as either good or bad while some people see conflict as neither good nor bad and just something that happens in life that has to be dealt with for progress.  Both good and bad conflicts lead to progress, it just might not be the direction you had in mind.

By Gregory Kelley, Business Major- IUPUC

3 Comments

  1. November 12, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    I love your post, it’s nice when you can tell somebody actuallly puts effort into a comment, and gives the posts. If you set up notifications value.

  2. November 16, 2011 at 12:47 am

    Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!


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