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types of conflict assignment

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3 Types of Conflict and How to Address Them

Different types of conflict — including task conflict, relationship conflict, and value conflict—can benefit from different approaches to conflict resolution..

By Katie Shonk — on April 23rd, 2024 / Conflict Resolution

types of conflict assignment

In the workplace, it sometimes seems as if some types of conflict are always with us. Miss a deadline, and you are likely to face conflict with your boss. Lash out at a colleague who you feel continually undermines you, and you’ll end up in conflict. And if you disagree with a fellow manager about whether to represent a client whose values you disdain, conflict is also likely.

In particular, three types of conflict are common in organizations: task conflict, relationship conflict, and value conflict. Although open communication, collaboration, and respect will go a long way toward conflict management , the three types of conflict can also benefit from targeted conflict-resolution tactics .

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Task Conflict

The first of the three types of conflict in the workplace, task conflict, often involves concrete issues related to employees’ work assignments and can include disputes about how to divide up resources, differences of opinion on procedures and policies, managing expectations at work , and judgments and interpretation of facts.

Of the three types of conflict discussed here, task conflict may appear to be the simplest to resolve. But task conflict often turns out to have deeper roots and more complexity that it appears to have at first glance. For example, coworkers who are arguing about which one of them should go to an out-of-town conference may have a deeper conflict based on a sense of rivalry.

Task conflict often benefits from the intervention of an organization’s leaders. Serving as de facto mediators, managers can focus on identifying the deeper interests underlying parties’ positions. This can be done through active listening, which involves asking questions, repeating back what you hear to confirm your understanding, and asking even deeper questions aimed at probing for deeper concerns. Try to engage the parties in a collaborative problem-solving process in which they brainstorm possible solutions. When parties develop solutions together, rather than having an outcome imposed on them, they are more likely to abide by the agreement and get along better in the future.

Relationship Conflict

The second of our three types of conflict, relationship conflict, arises from differences in personality, style, matters of taste, and even conflict styles. In organizations, people who would not ordinarily meet in real life are often thrown together and must try to get along. It’s no surprise, then, that relationship conflict can be common in organizations.

Suppose you’ve felt a long-simmering tension with a colleague, whether over work assignments, personality differences, or some other issue. Before turning to a manager, you might invite the colleague out to lunch and try to get to know him or her better. Discovering things you have in common—whether a tie to the same city, children the same age, or shared concerns about problems in your organization—may help bring you together.

If you feel comfortable, bring up the source of the tension and focus on listening to the other person’s point of view. Resist the urge to argue or defend your position. When you demonstrate empathy and interest, he or she is likely to reciprocate. If the conflict persists or worsens, enlist the help of a manager in resolving your differences.

Value Conflict

The last of our three types of conflict, value conflict, can arise from fundamental differences in identities and values, which can include differences in politics, religion, ethics, norms, and other deeply held beliefs. Although discussion of politics and religion is often taboo in organizations, disputes about values can arise in the context of work decisions and policies, such as whether to implement an affirmative action program or whether to take on a client with ties to a corrupt government.

According to MIT professor Lawrence Susskind, disputes involving values tend to heighten defensiveness, distrust, and alienation. Parties can feel so strongly about standing by their values that they reject trades that would satisfy other interests they might have.

Susskind recommends that instead of seeking to resolve a values-based dispute, we aim to move beyond demonization toward mutual understanding and respect through dialogue. Aim for a cognitive understanding in which you and your coworker reach an accurate conceptualization of one another’s point of view. This type of understanding doesn’t require sympathy or emotional connection, only a “values-neutral” ability to describe accurately what someone else believes about the situation, write Robert Mnookin, Scott R. Peppet, and Andrew S. Tulumello in Beyond Winning: Negotiating to Create Value in Deals and Disputes (Harvard University Press, 2004).

In addition, you may be able to reframe a values-based dispute “by appealing to other values that you and your counterpart share,” writes Susskind in an article in the Negotiation Briefings newsletter, “including universal beliefs such as equal rights or nonviolence, rather than focusing on the differences in beliefs that precipitated the dispute.”

Learn more about conflict and dispute resolution when you read these items:

What is Conflict Resolution, and How Does It Work?

How to manage conflict at work through conflict resolution.

If you work with others, sooner or later you will almost inevitably face the need for conflict resolution. You may need to mediate a dispute between two members of your department. Or you may find yourself angered by something a colleague reportedly said about you in a meeting. Or you may need to engage in … Read What is Conflict Resolution, and How Does It Work? >>

Conflict Styles and Bargaining Styles

Our conflict and negotiation styles have a significant impact on how we manage conflict and negotiate. two different models can help identify our tendencies and those of our counterparts..

What type of negotiator are you? Many negotiation strategies are “one size fits all,” but our unique personalities and life experiences will shape how we carry out and react to such strategies. Familiarity with different kinds of negotiation and conflict management styles can help us better understand and work with our own tendencies and …  Read Conflict Styles and Bargaining Styles >>

Types of Conflict in Business Negotiation—and How to Avoid Them

The types of conflict we face in business negotiation can be categorized by our role and relationship with the other party. by preparing for characteristics of each one, we will be better positioned to avoid them in the first place..

Conflict in business negotiation is common, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are steps we can take to avoid certain types of conflict and misunderstanding. Often, it helps to analyze the unique causes of conflict in particular negotiation situations. Here, we look at three frequent types of conflict in business negotiations and offer …  Read Types of Conflict in Business Negotiation—and How to Avoid Them >>

  • What are the Three Basic Types of Dispute Resolution? What to Know About Mediation, Arbitration, and Litigation

How to choose the best dispute resolution process

When it comes to dispute resolution, we now have many choices. Understandably, disputants are often confused about which process to use. … Read What are the Three Basic Types of Dispute Resolution? What to Know About Mediation, Arbitration, and Litigation >>

Elements of Conflict: Diagnose What’s Gone Wrong

Basic elements of conflict contribute to disputes and cause them to escalate. we describe three primary elements of conflict and suggest ways to address them productively in your negotiations..

In the heat of conflict, it can be difficult to think rationally about how you got where you are and how you might make things better. But by taking a break to consider the elements of conflict, you can move toward a more rational assessment of the dispute and come up with ways to address …  Read Elements of Conflict: Diagnose What’s Gone Wrong >> 

Conflict-Management Styles: Pitfalls and Best Practices

Conflict-management styles can affect how disputes play out in organizations and beyond. research on conflict-management styles offers advice on managing such difficult situations..

People approach conflict differently, depending on their innate tendencies, their life experiences, and the demands of the moment. Negotiation and conflict-management research reveals how our differing conflict-management styles mesh with best practices … Read Conflict-Management Styles: Pitfalls and Best Practices >>

Get Stories about Types of Conflict

Access our library of blog articles dealing with types of conflict..

From negotiation and conflict management styles to types of conflict and how to avoid them. Even more stories about learning from mediating professional sports disputes and what is an arbitration agreement to negotiating values in conflict resolution scenarios. And more … Read Stories about Types of Conflict >>

What types of conflict seem to be most prevalent in your organization? Leave us a comment.

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No Responses to “3 Types of Conflict and How to Address Them”

7 responses to “3 types of conflict and how to address them”.

This was a helpful article as I am researching and writing about conflict management for a leadership curriculum. I see all three is being interconnected, while yet separate. Hence, the need to cognitively separate out these different ways of thinking (of what we value) is important.

I believe task conflict is the most prevalent in our organization most times due to staffing issues. Once a task is assigned, even when the staffing has been resolved the task is not reassigned to the proper department or function.

Whether it is relationship task or value oriented, conflicts arise out of images and perceptions which one has. This is again anchored in memory and conditioning. Unless the perception changes, de_escalation is not possible. Recognition, Aknowledgment and Connect are the core. Indian philosophy talks about understanding the type of energy sustaining the conflict and then being motivated to move from entitlements to equanimity

I find that task related conflict dominates followed by relationship conflicts. Value related conflicts are very limited due the nature of the organisational set up and its value system.

Great piece of work done here which provides excellent resolutions especially to management staff on dealing with day to day issues in our organisations. The three types of conflict are visible,although the value conflict due to issues to do with religion are more .

It’s helpful to have these common conflicts categorized in this way. I wonder where identity-based and cultural disputes involving gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity would fall under? These issues are in some cases more sensitive or personal than value and relationship conflicts but I could see them falling under either. Thanks.

Identity-based and cultural disputes involving gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity are typically classified as value conflicts. Value conflicts arise when people disagree on what is right or wrong, good or bad, just or unjust, and so on. These types of conflicts involve deeply held beliefs, attitudes, and values that individuals and groups attach to their identity and sense of self. As a result, they can be particularly sensitive and personal, as you noted. However, they are still ultimately conflicted about values.

That being said, it’s essential to recognise that conflicts related to gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity can also have relationship components. For example, someone might feel that a friend or family member’s beliefs about their identity are hurtful or disrespectful, which could strain their relationship. In these cases, the conflict might involve both value and relationship components.

Overall, the classification of a conflict as value-based or relationship-based is not always clear-cut, and there can be an overlap between the two categories. It’s essential to consider the specific nature of the conflict and the context in which it occurs in order to determine the most appropriate way to address it.

types of conflict assignment

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Types of conflict worksheets.

What would a story be without a conflict? It would be boring. Perhaps that is why all stories worth telling have a problem. Most scholars agree that there are six basic types of conflicts in literature. I will define each of these. Then I will provide PowerPoint lessons and worksheets that reinforce these ideas. Use these resources to help your students master the concept of conflict in literature.

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  • Types of Conflict Worksheets and Lessons

Person Versus Person

In this type of conflict, the central character clashes with another person . It doesn't always have to be a person. They could be animals for instance. I guess It's just easier to say person instead of entity.

This is an image of two ninjas fighting. One ninja is dressed in a black suit and the other is dressed in a blue suit.

Person Versus Self

When a story has a person vs. self conflict, the main character battles him or herself . He or she may lack confidence or ability. He or she may have to make a difficult choice. Or he or she may have to address a personal problem. The key here is that the battle occurs within the character, though it may involve and affect other characters.

Person Versus Society

With this type of conflict, the main character challenges a law, tradition, or institution . The main character or characters may battle against the forces that represent these institutions.

Person Versus Nature

When a story has a person vs. nature conflict, the main character fights to endure or overcome forces of nature . He or she may struggle to survive harsh elements, navigate through a disaster, or meet his or her basic needs. Stories with this type of conflict may occur in the wilderness often, but they can occur in urban settings too.

Person Versus Supernatural

In stories with this type of conflict, the main character resists forces that are not of this world . He or she may battle monsters or strange creatures. He or she may challenge beings with magical powers. Or he or she may encounter hostile aliens. The key to this conflict is that forces that are not of this world threaten the main character.

Person Versus Technology

In a story with this type of conflict, the main character resists technological forces. He or she may battle rouge robots or hostile computers. Or he or she may just struggle to accept or use the technology of a changing world.

Worksheets and Lessons

These worksheets and PowerPoint lessons are great for reinforcing this information. Worksheet files are saved in RTF (for editing) and PDF (for printing) format. Feel free to modify or change the content on these worksheets for use in your classroom. They are also available as preview files and the answer keys are included in web format as well.

This is a preview image of Types of Conflict Worksheet 1. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.

Literary Conflict Common Core State Standards


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Don’t worry about it. The site is supported by ads. Best wishes and thank you for thinking of me!

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San Diego Homeschool mom

Dear Mr. Morton, thanks you so much for your resources. You make things so clear I am able to teach higher concepts to two boys and they understand it. They will be be ahead of the game when they get into middle and high school.I hope you keep writing your worksheets as you are very talented at making clear points so that even old moms can get it! I can’t believe I just found this- I’ve been homeschooling for 12 years and I wish I had this years ago. Thanks so much for being so giving.. San Diego Homeschooling mom

How can I verify that the answers are correct?

shellie mcallister

he provides an answer document for everything. look below the link for each assignment and you will see it

Kimberly Arnold

I cannot express my gratefulness for this website and resource. I am an intervention specialist/special educator on her own special ed. island, and I have to present all core content regardless of the fact that ELA is my only specific area of focus. Whereas ELA is my first love, I feel like I skimp on planning because every other subject requires so much of my attention because I’m learning as a go along. This resource is saving lives, and I am so grateful for the quality.

Thanks for using my site and taking the time to comment. It is inspirational. Thank you.

These are so helpful! I have a question though, how would you explain internal v.s. external conflicts ?

Internal conflicts occur within a character. This may take the form of a difficult decision or complex emotions. External conflicts occur outside of a character. There are more forms of external conflicts, so I’m not going to attempt to list them all.

Thanks for visiting my site!

Hello, I’m Evelyn :Thank you so much for this information and resources I am a grandmother who is raising my granddaughter and a lot of what they are teaching now is somewhat indepth of what I learned. This helps me teach her just what is needed. Again thank you!

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You are so welcome. I’m sure that you are doing wonders for your granddaughter.

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Maqsood Alam

What is the need of conflict in Drama.

A story without conflict is not much of a story.

Annette Goldstein

This website has a elaborate and very detailed genre of concepts. I am using it on a daily basis. What a phanominal resource.

Thank you so much for saying so.

To be honest, I love what you are doing but disagree with the last 3. I believe they would all fall under ‘Person vs Environment’. Great work though!

Just to elaborate. This involves the environment or context changing and becoming hostile towards the protagonist (and others).

Johnny Simpson

I am using this amazing website on a daily bases, and I love it, but the only problem is that your website needs more problems. Thank you

I’m working on it, but everything takes time.

David Vazquez

I need some kind of test template.

Here’s a test template that I’ve been using. I hope that it helps!

Promee Mahbub

When you steal something it is a conflict because you are doing something wrong. Is this right or wrong

It’s all about how the author develops it. For example: Character feels bad about him or herself and steals a fashionable pair of pants… maybe internal conflict? Character steals a controversial flag, gets caught, and faces a trial… person versus society? Character wants to injure another character, so he or she steals the other character’s important possession… person vs. person. An action alone is not a conflict. The conflict is more than a single action. The conflict is developed by the author in a way that is central to the story.

how the character conflict with a technology?

Like, maybe giant robots are trying to take over the Earth. Or, as a more mundane example, maybe Grandpa cannot figure out how to work his phone.

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1.2 Levels and Types of Conflict

Levels of conflict.

Different Levels of Conflict

In addition to different views of conflict, there exist several different levels of conflict. By level of conflict, we are referring to the number of individuals involved in the conflict. That is, is the conflict within just one person, between two people, between two or more groups, or between two or more organizations? Both the causes of a conflict and the most effective means to resolve it can be affected by level. Four levels can be identified: within an individual (intrapersonal conflict), between two parties (interpersonal conflict), between groups (intergroup conflict), and between organizations (interorganizational conflict).

Intrapersonal Conflict

Intrapersonal conflict arises within a person. In the workplace, this is often the result of competing motivations or roles. We often hear about someone who has an approach-avoidance conflict; that is, they are both attracted to and repelled by the same object. Similarly, a person can be attracted to two equally appealing alternatives, such as two good job offers (approach-approach conflict) or repelled by two equally unpleasant alternatives, such as the threat of being fired if one fails to identify a coworker guilty of breaking company rules (avoidance-avoidance conflict). Intrapersonal conflict can arise because of differences in roles.

A role conflict occurs when there are competing demands on our time, energy, and other resources. For example, a conflict may arise if you’re the head of one team but also a member of another team. We can also have conflict between our roles at work and those roles that we hold in our personal lives.

Another type of intrapersonal conflict involves role ambiguity . Perhaps you’ve been given the task of finding a trainer for a company’s business writing training program. You may feel unsure about what kind of person to hire—a well-known but expensive trainer or a local, unknown but low-priced trainer. If you haven’t been given guidelines about what’s expected, you may be wrestling with several options.

Interpersonal Conflict

Interpersonal conflict is among individuals such as coworkers, a manager and an employee, or CEOs and their staff. Many companies suffer because of interpersonal conflicts as it results in loss of productivity and employee turnover. According to one estimate, 31.9 percent of CEOs resigned from their jobs because they had conflict with the board of directors (Whitehouse, 2008). Such conflicts often tend to get highly personal because only two parties are involved and each person embodies the opposing position in the conflict. Hence, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the opponent’s position and the person. Keeping conflicts centered around ideas rather than individual differences is important in avoiding a conflict escalation. Throughout the book, we will learn more about strategies for dealing with interpersonal conflicts.

Intergroup Conflict

Intergroup conflict is conflict that takes place among different groups and often involves disagreement over goals, values, or resources. Types of groups may include different departments, employee unions, or management in a company or competing companies that supply the same customers. Departments may conflict over budget allocations, unions and management may disagree over work rules, and suppliers may conflict with each other on the quality of parts.

Merging two groups together can lead to friction between the groups—especially if there are scarce resources to be divided among the group. For example, in what has been called “the most difficult and hard-fought labor issue in an airline merger,” Canadian Air and Air Canada pilots were locked into years of personal and legal conflict when the two airlines’ seniority lists were combined following the merger (Stoykewch, 2003). Seniority is a valuable and scarce resource for pilots, because it helps to determine who flies the newest and biggest planes, who receives the best flight routes, and who is paid the most. In response to the loss of seniority, former Canadian Air pilots picketed at shareholder meetings, threatened to call in sick, and had ongoing conflicts with pilots from Air Canada. The history of past conflicts among organizations and employees makes new deals challenging. Intergroup conflict can be the most complicated form of conflict because of the number of individuals involved. Coalitions can form and result in an “us-against-them” mentality. Here, too, is an opportunity for groups to form insulated ways of thinking and problems solving, thus allowing groupthink to develop and thrive.

Interorganizational Conflict

Finally, we can see interorganizational conflic t in disputes between two companies in the same industry (for example, a disagreement between computer manufactures over computer standards), between two companies in different industries or economic sectors (for example, a conflict between real estate interests and environmentalists over land use planning), and even between two or more countries (for example, a trade dispute between the United States and Russia). In each case, both parties inevitably feel the pursuit of their goals is being frustrated by the other party.

Power Differentials in Conflict

The traditional levels of conflict (intrapersonal, interpersonal, intergroup, and intraorganizational) all represent potentially and/or relatively equal entities in terms of power and status. This model can be useful in naming and understanding some common levels of conflict. However, it does not fully capture the complexity, nuance, and power dynamics of some workplace conflict situations. For instance, what happens where there is a conflict between individuals and/or other entities (e.g. organizations) who differ in power, status, and/or authority?

Gladwell (2013) discusses the classic example of conflict despite unequal power differentials in David and Goliath. Nonetheless, conflict—including bullying, harassment, and violence—can be present within the typical hierarchical structures present in most workplaces. For example, conflict can occur between supervisor and subordinate (see section 9.3 on Problem Bosses). This poses unique challenges given the varying degrees of authority and power. Indeed, as Ahmed (2021) puts it, “hierarchies can make handling harassment hard, which is how hierarchies enable harassment” (p. 120).

Types of Conflict

If we are to try to understand conflict, we need to know what type of conflict is present. At least four types of conflict can be identified:

  • Goal conflict can occur when one person or group desires a different outcome than others do. This is simply a clash over whose goals are going to be pursued.
  • Cognitive conflict can result when one person or group holds ideas or opinions that are inconsistent with those of others. Often cognitive conflicts are rooted in differences in attitudes, beliefs, values, and worldviews, and ideas maybe tied to deeply held culture, politics, and religion. This type of conflict emerges when one person’s or group’s feelings or emotions (attitudes) are incompatible with those of others.
  • Affective conflict is seen in situations where two individuals simply don’t get along with each other.
  • Behavioral conflict exists when one person or group does something (i.e., behaves in a certain way) that is unacceptable to others. Dressing for work in a way that “offends” others and using profane language are examples of behavioral conflict.

Each of these types of conflict is usually triggered by different factors, and each can lead to very different responses by the individual or group. It is important to note that there are many types of conflict and that not all researchers use this same four-type classification. For example, Dr. Amy Gallo (2015) has characterized conflict as being rooted in relationships, tasks (what to do), process (how to do things), or status. Regardless, when we find ourselves in a conflict situation, it can be helpful to try and take a step back and identify what type of conflict it is. It can also be helpful to acknowledge that what may look like a goal conflict may actually also have components of affective or cognitive conflict.

Adapted Works

“ Conflict and Negotiations ” in Organizational Behaviour by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License .

“ Handle Conflict and Negotiation ” in Human Relations by Saylor Academy is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensor.

Ahmed, S. (2021). Complaint!. Duke University Press.

Gallo, A. (2015, November 4). 4 types of conflict and how to manage them [Podcast]. In Harvard Business Review . https://hbr.org/podcast/2015/11/4-types-of-conflict-and-how-to-manage-them

Gladwell, M. (2013). David and Goliath: Underdogs, misfits, and the art of battling giants. Little, Brown and Company.

Stoykewych, R. E. (2003, March 7). A note on the seniority resolutions arising out of the merger of Air Canada and Canadian Airlines [Paper presentation]. American Bar Association Midwinter Meeting, Laguna Beach, CA.

Whitehouse, K. (2008, January 14). Why CEOs need to be honest with their boards.  Wall Street Journal (Eastern edition), R1–R3.

Conflict Management Copyright © 2022 by Laura Westmaas, BA, MSc is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Assignment 9: Conflict Resolution

The purpose of this assignment is to help you identify and describe various types of conflict that you have experienced and apply conflict management strategies to resolve them. For this assignment, you will work independently.

Learning Objectives

LO1. Describe the various levels and types of conflict.

LO3. Compare and contrast the different types of conflict management styles.

LO4. Apply conflict resolution concepts to personal experiences.

The time estimated to complete this activity is 45-60 minutes.


Please address the following questions in a 200-400 word written response. Follow formal writing conventions using complete sentences and checking spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

  • Describe examples of two levels of conflict that you’ve experienced (interpersonal, intrapersonal, intergroup, intraorganizational) and discuss which type of conflict (goal, cognitive, affective, behavioral) was involved in each.
  • Which of the 5 conflict management styles (Avoiding, Accommodating, Competing, Compromising, Collaborating) do you use most often? Give an example.
  • Describe how you would apply the STLC Conflict Model to a recent conflict you experienced where the outcome did not go well. How do you think the STLC model would have impacted the outcome?

Psychology of Human Relations Copyright © by Stevy Scarbrough is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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BUS209: Organizational Behavior

types of conflict assignment

Conflict and Negotiations

This chapter provides an excellent introduction to conflict and negotiation. You will learn about the types, causes, and consequences of conflict, as well as how to manage conflict. The text then transitions to understanding and employing negotiation strategies within the organization.

Understanding Conflict

Learning objectives.

  • Define conflict.
  • Understand different types of conflict.
  • Address whether conflict is always negative.

Let's take a closer look at these social issues such as conflict to understand how they can derail companies and individuals alike - and what to do to prevent such consequences from happening to you. In this chapter, you'll see that managing conflict and engaging in effective negotiation are both key for effective organizational behavior within organizations as well as daily life. Conflicts range from minor annoyances to outright violence. For example, one million workers (18,000 people per week) are assaulted on the job in the United States alone. One of the major ways to avoid conflicts escalating to these levels is through understanding the causes of conflict and developing methods for managing potential negative outcomes. Negotiation is one of the most effective ways to decrease conflict and will also be examined in depth in this chapter. Similar to how conflicts can range from minor to major, negotiations vary in terms of their consequences. A high-stakes negotiation at work might mean the difference between a company's survival and its demise. On the other end of the spectrum, we deal with minor negotiations on a regular basis, such as negotiating with a coworker about which movie to see. Maybe you make a concession: "OK, we'll watch what you want but I get to pick where we eat". Maybe you hold tough: "I don't want to watch anything except a comedy". Perhaps you even look for a third option that would mutually satisfy both parties. Regardless of the level, conflict management and negotiation tactics are important skills that can be learned. First, let's take a deeper look at conflict. Conflict is a process that involves people disagreeing. Researchers have noted that conflict is like the common cold. Everyone knows what it is, but understanding its causes and how to treat it is much more challenging. As we noted earlier, conflict can range from minor disagreements to workplace violence. In addition, there are three types of conflict that can arise within organizations. Let's take a look at each of them in turn.

Types of Conflict

Intrapersonal conflict.

Intrapersonal conflict arises within a person. For example, when you're uncertain about what is expected or wanted, or you have a sense of being inadequate to perform a task, you are experiencing intrapersonal conflict. Intrapersonal conflict can arise because of differences in roles. A manager may want to oversee a subordinate's work, believing that such oversight is a necessary part of the job. The subordinate, on the other hand, may consider such extensive oversight to be micromanagement or evidence of a lack of trust. Role conflict, another type of intrapersonal conflict, includes having two different job descriptions that seem mutually exclusive. This type of conflict can arise if you're the head of one team but also a member of another team. A third type of intrapersonal conflict involves role ambiguity. Perhaps you've been given the task of finding a trainer for a company's business writing training program. You may feel unsure about what kind of person to hire - a well-known but expensive trainer or a local, unknown but low-priced trainer. If you haven't been given guidelines about what's expected, you may be wrestling with several options.

Interpersonal Conflict

Figure 10.2

types of conflict assignment

Of the conflict between Michael Dell (shown here) and Steve Jobs, David Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School who closely follows the computer industry, notes that the conflict may stem from their differences in terms of being from different generations and having different management styles. Interpersonal conflict is among individuals such as coworkers, a manager and an employee, or CEOs and their staff. For example, in 2006 the CEO of Airbus S.A.S., Christian Streiff, resigned because of his conflict with the board of directors over issues such as how to restructure the company. This example may reflect a well-known trend among CEOs. According to one estimate, 31.9% of CEOs resigned from their jobs because they had conflict with the board of directors. CEOs of competing companies might also have public conflicts. In 1997, Michael Dell was asked what he would do about Apple Computer. "What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to shareholders". Ten years later, Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple Inc., indicated he had clearly held a grudge as he shot back at Dell in an e-mail to his employees, stating, "Team, it turned out Michael Dell wasn't perfect in predicting the future. Based on today's stock market close, Apple is worth more than Dell". In part, their long-time disagreements stem from their differences. Interpersonal conflict often arises because of competition, as the Dell/Apple example shows, or because of personality or values differences. For example, one person's style may be to "go with the gut" on decisions, while another person wants to make decisions based on facts. Those differences will lead to conflict if the individuals reach different conclusions. Many companies suffer because of interpersonal conflicts. Keeping conflicts centered around ideas rather than individual differences is important in avoiding a conflict escalation.

Intergroup Conflict

Figure 10.3

types of conflict assignment

Conflicts such as the Air Canada pilot strike can have ripple effects. For example, Air Canada's parent company threatened to cancel a $6.1 billion contract with Boeing for new planes if they were unable to negotiate an agreement with the pilots who would fly them. Conflict consequences such as these could affect those working at this Boeing Factory in Seattle, Washington. Intergroup conflict is conflict that takes place among different groups. Types of groups may include different departments or divisions in a company, and employee union and management, or competing companies that supply the same customers. Departments may conflict over budget allocations; unions and management may disagree over work rules; suppliers may conflict with each other on the quality of parts. Merging two groups together can lead to friction between the groups - especially if there are scarce resources to be divided among the group. For example, in what has been called "the most difficult and hard-fought labor issue in an airline merger," Canadian Air and Air Canada pilots were locked into years of personal and legal conflict when the two airlines' seniority lists were combined following the merger. A note on the seniority resolutions arising out of the merger of Air Canada and Canadian Airlines. Paper presented at the American Bar Association Midwinter Meeting, Laguna Beach, CA. Seniority is a valuable and scarce resource for pilots, because it helps to determine who flies the newest and biggest planes, who receives the best flight routes, and who is paid the most. In response to the loss of seniority, former Canadian Air pilots picketed at shareholder meetings, threatened to call in sick, and had ongoing conflicts with pilots from Air Canada. The conflicts with pilots continue to this day. The history of past conflicts among organizations and employees makes new deals challenging.

Is Conflict Always Bad?

Most people are uncomfortable with conflict, but is conflict always bad? Conflict can be dysfunctional if it paralyzes an organization, leads to less than optimal performance, or, in the worst case, leads to workplace violence. Surprisingly, a moderate amount of conflict can actually be a healthy (and necessary) part of organizational life. To understand how to get to a positive level of conflict, we need to understand its root causes, consequences, and tools to help manage it. The impact of too much or too little conflict can disrupt performance. If conflict is too low, then performance is low. If conflict is too high, then performance also tends to be low. The goal is to hold conflict levels in the middle of this range. While it might seem strange to want a particular level of conflict, a medium level of task-related conflict is often viewed as optimal, because it represents a situation in which a healthy debate of ideas takes place. Figure 10.4 The Inverted U Relationship Between Performance and Conflict

types of conflict assignment

Task conflict can be good in certain circumstances, such as in the early stages of decision making, because it stimulates creativity. However, it can interfere with complex tasks in the long run. Personal conflicts, such as personal attacks, are never healthy because they cause stress and distress, which undermines performance. The worst cases of personal conflicts can lead to workplace bullying. At Intel Corporation, all new employees go through a 4-hour training module to learn "constructive confrontation". The content of the training program includes dealing with others in a positive manner, using facts rather than opinion to persuade others, and focusing on the problem at hand rather than the people involved. "We don't spend time being defensive or taking things personally. We cut through all of that and get to the issues," notes a trainer from Intel University. The success of the training remains unclear, but the presence of this program indicates that Intel understands the potentially positive effect of a moderate level of conflict. Research focusing on effective teams across time found that they were characterized by low but increasing levels of process conflict (how do we get things done?), low levels of relationship conflict with a rise toward the end of the project (personal disagreements among team members), and moderate levels of task conflict in the middle of the task time line.

Key Takeaway

Conflict can be a problem for individuals and organizations. There are several different types of conflict, including intrapersonal, interpersonal, and intergroup conflict. Moderate conflict can be a healthy and necessary part of organizational life.

  • What are the types of conflicts that individuals may have at work? Which type have you experienced the most?
  • What are some primary causes of conflict at work?
  • Explain how miscommunication might be related to a conflict at work.

Storyboard That

  • My Storyboards

Conflict Management: Knowing the Types of Conflicts

In this activity, activity overview, template and class instructions, more storyboard that activities.

  • This Activity is Part of Many Teacher Guides

Types of Conflict

Conflict is when a person or group experiences resistance in relation to a desired outcome. Visualizing different conflict scenarios that impact one person can be an effective way to learn. Students may be familiar with these concepts from their literary class, but not be aware that they extend to real life! As an introductory activity, have students create a spider map that defines and illustrates each type of conflict that someone can encounter. You can provide them with the list below, or have them identify them on their own.

Conflict Definitions and Types

Person vs. self (interpersonal).

An individual has an internal struggle.

Person vs. Person (Intrapersonal)

An individual or group face opposition or resistance from another person or group or people.

Person vs. Society (Social Conflict)

An individual or group faces opposition to traditions, cultural norms, or laws.

Person vs. Nature

An individual or group faces opposition to the forces of nature.

Person vs. Technology

An individual or group face resistance from technology.

Conflict of Interest

The actions or intentions of one individual conflict with the intended outcomes of the relationship.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard describing and illustrating each type of conflict.

  • Click "Start Assignment".
  • Identify the type of conflict in the each title box.
  • Describe the meaning of the cell and explain how it matches the title.
  • Create a picture of each conflict in the cell using a combination of appropriate scenes, characters, and items.

Blank Spider Map - 6 Terms

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-12

Difficulty Level 1 (Introducing / Reinforcing)

Type of Assignment Individual

Type of Activity: Visual Vocabulary Boards

(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric .)

Conflict Management and Resolution

Conflict Management and Resolution - Conflict Scenario Vocabulary in Context

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Melody Stanford Martin

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What's Your Conflict Style?

Six styles of conflict and why we learn them..

Posted March 26, 2021 | Reviewed by Devon Frye

  • Many people have one particular "conflict style" that informs how they approach most disagreements—they may avoid all conflict, for example, or have a tendency to attack.
  • While there is likely a genetic component to conflict styles, they are deeply informed by sociocultural influences, education, and past experiences with disagreement.
  • Identifying your dominant "conflict style" and where it came from—with the help of a therapist, if necessary—can help you unlearn unhealthy approaches to disagreement.


Even though conflict is a normal part of our human experience, many of us don't give a lot of critical thought to the ways we approach conflict and difficult conversations.

Whether we realize it or not, each of us has a style of engaging conflict. Digging into our personal styles can be an enlightening experience that leads to greater self-awareness. It can also help us set new goals for personal growth.

Six Styles of Engaging Conflict

  • Which style, or styles, do you identify with most?
  • If you identify with more than one style, what situations determine which style you lean into?

1. Avoidants: People who are avoidants tend to run for the hills at any sign of trouble. They might feel deeply uncomfortable even at the slightest mention of a raised voice. Most or all conflict feels like a threat, and avoidants will want to retreat and may feel a sense of panic when they are not allowed to. Many times, conflict for an avoider festers and will go nuclear—either implode or explode, because it’s not dealt with in a timely manner.

2. Brawlers: Brawlers like to throw their dukes up and often blur the line between fighting fair and swinging below the belt. Often intensely competitive, brawlers can also perceive intense threat in conflict; that’s why they want to win and overpower the threat before it gets the upper hand. Brawlers can cause a lot of damage to themselves and others, because in the heat of the moment they aren’t thinking about the impact of their words and actions.

3. Conciliators: While being conciliatory is not necessarily always bad, conciliators tend to want to rush through difficult emotions and uncomfortable situations, resolving the issues as quickly as possible—even if that means putting a “band-aid” on the matter. While conciliators mean well, the haste to “fix” can lead to drastic long-term consequences for communication and relationships. It can also have negative consequences for the conciliator, who might sacrifice themselves or their needs in order to make the conflict go away.

4. Debaters: Some of us tend to intellectualize conflict and dive into lengthy ideological dialogues when we experience conflict. While healthy debate is important, there are two risks in being a debater: 1) to get so heady with a set of issues that we ignore our emotions and lived experience, and 2) we focus on winning the debate and being the smartest person in the room, ignoring the fact that not everyone is skilled or trained in debate, and not everyone is good at having these conversations in the heat of the moment. Unless both parties have agreed to a formal debate with ground rules, debaters can lack vulnerability, get lost in technicalities, and lean into power imbalances that are not helpful.

5. Devil’s Advocates: Devil’s advocates value disagreement for disagreement’s sake. In one sense, this a healthy way to approach conflict; a healthy devil’s advocate who works from a place of empathy uses this ability to bring up issues or perspectives that need to be considered. An unhealthy devil’s advocate will often lack vulnerability, like a debater. They may never be willing to come to any kind of consensus because they enjoy being a contrarian. This is often highly frustrating to the people around them, and can erode relationships.

6. Cooperatives: Understanding that conflict is a natural part of life and resolving it is uncomfortable but necessary, cooperatives take their time with conflict. They seek to humanize the “other side,” and even if they can’t reach a consensus or agreement, they do what they can to carefully work through things with all parties involved. They practice emotional regulation so they don’t have to run away or fight when they experience uncomfortable feelings. They are not afraid to share hard truths or set boundaries , and they seek the health and safety of the long-term relationship.

Where do our conflict styles come from?

While there’s no way to break down an exact ratio of nature vs. nurture in this arena, there are many factors that inform our conflict style. These factors include:

  • Personality and body chemistry

Nurture (Socialization)

  • Social location —where you are in the world (race/class/ gender / ethnicity /ability) and the complex cultural influences that impact these identities
  • Family systems—the roles you play(ed) in your family of origin
  • Past experiences with conflict—either positive, negative, or traumatic
  • Education —what we are taught, directly
  • Modeling —what we learn indirectly from parents, role models, and our community
  • Media consumption—what we watch and listen to
  • The stakes—the impact that conflict or set of issues has on our lives

Are we “stuck” with our conflict style?

No! That’s the good news. Our conflict styles are largely learned—which means they can be unlearned. Realizing that we have an unhealthy or unhelpful conflict style can be humbling. We can’t change the past, but we can create better patterns for ourselves and our relationships moving forward.

types of conflict assignment

Once you are aware of your conflict style(s), take some time to:

  • Unearth the personal history that caused you to learn that style. Therapy can be a vital help in this process.
  • Identify which new style(s) you would like to learn or lean toward.
  • Work on building new skills that align with your goals.

For more helpful free tools and resources, check out bravetalkproject.com . This article was adapted from Brave Talk: Building Resilient Relationships in the Face of Conflict (Broadleaf Books, 2020).

Melody Stanford Martin

Melody Stanford Martin is a social ethicist and communications expert helping people develop courageous dialogue and conflict transformation skills. She is the author of Brave Talk: Building Resilient Relationships in the Face of Conflict.

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Language Arts Classroom

Conflict Activities for Literary Analysis

types of conflict assignment

Conflict activities for literary analysis: Let’s have fun with this divisive literary device and move toward literary analysis activities. Below, I’ve included literary analysis activities as well as short stories to teach conflict. 

Conflicts in literature : They give our stories movement. Identifying examples for different types—human vs. human, self, nature, society, and the supernatural—is the focus of many class discussions. In literary analysis, conflict remains a cornerstone because every character sees conflicts differently, encounters them differently. Other characters are unaware of certain conflicts, making the implications larger. Literary analysis activities include some sort of discussion about a story’s conflict.

As you discuss a story’s conflict, you’ll naturally expand and connect conflicts to other pieces of the story. Many standards ask students to examine how conflicts move the theme forward or how conflicts reveal characterization . Over the years, I’ve honed several conflict activities for literary analysis that are easy to implement and switch around. Plus, they work well for review. When I provide student choice, students latch to an activity that will individually help them understand literature more than they did before.

Before I dive into a large literary analysis essay, I might use one or two of these activities as a springboard. Once students experience success with analysis, they are willing to expand their thoughts. I’ve included all of these activities (plus many more) in a free download. Access it here:

Looking for a literary conflict lesson plan? These conflict graphic organizers can help.

Free conflict activities.

Here is a list of free, no (or little!) prep conflict activities. These can also easily work for other literary elements activities. Some may fit better with novels and others better with short stories. Adapt these conflict activities for literary analysis as needed!

After the list, I’ve provided five short stories to teach conflict.

Add sticky notes.

Give every student one or two sticky notes. Have them write one conflict per note. Organize different sections around the room—man vs. man, society, and on—and have students file their sticky notes in the appropriate area.

Students can see what the most common conflict was and what the most common type of conflict was. Organizing the conflicts will give students a visual, and you can ask them to explain why some readers see the same conflict, but put them in different categories. Since sticky notes are movable, you can rearrange the conflicts as your discussions grow. Perhaps they overlap.

You can also analyze which category has the most: is this indicative of the story’s time period? the author’s life experiences?

Finally, leave the sticky notes on the wall or poster board. Bring the conflicts back to students as you learn more about the story and discover other literary elements.

Provide a ‘big picture’ of conflict.

Choose one type of conflict to look at throughout history. (This works well for man vs. government.) Students will throw down wars, prohibition, witch trials, voting rights, and segregation. Create a master list from students’ ideas.

Are any remnants of this history seen in the current story? Probably so. Turn that realization into a speech, paper, or additional research. Was the author intentional in bringing the story to life to address societal ills such as slavery or racism? If not, look at how the conflicts from the story are regarded by today’s standards.

Brainstorm ideas about a particular conflict.

Choose a conflict, or have students pick a conflict for further study. Have students decide which character (or force) from the story is ‘correct.’

Look at dissenting sides together, possibly moving students on different sides of the room. Then ask students to write about the opposite of the ‘correct’ character they originally chose. (Bonus: discuss empathy.) Discuss the author’s choice in portraying the conflict as it is. Move students to higher thinking to evaluate the author’s choices.

Think: Not a conflict? Are you sure?

Reread earlier portions of the story, not only to review, but to find seemingly innocuous events between characters and forces that we now know have conflicts. Read these events with a fresh set of eyes. If the story is long, you might list out pages and jigsaw the activity.

This works well with longer novels or plays. When students first read a story, they naturally don’t catch details that add to conflicts.

Take A Separate Peace for example. When readers first meet Phineas and Gene, they might not notice the subtle expressions from Gene. This initial stage of their conflict leads to the story’s climax and ultimately Gene’s realization that there never was an enemy. Students will see that the conflict was always there, before they knew it was.

Move toward literary analysis.

Provide a variety of writing prompts for students that will inspire them to connect pieces of literary analysis together. Not every writing prompt will inspire students, so allow them to choose what make sense to them.

Part of the purpose (and fun) of literary analysis is realizing what other life experiences and beliefs bring to literature. After students write, partner or group students so they can share their ideas. Since brain-based learning tells us to get brains working together, I utilize the writing prompts to accomplish that. Students personalized their analysis, and every student will experience a different angle concerning the story.

Exclude a conflict.

List conflicts in the story. What happens if a conflict were to disappear, big or small: How would the story change? Would readers understand a character less? Would the story be less interesting? Was the conflict unnecessary? (Are you sure?) Could it have been more interesting? Involved another character? Connected to the theme?

By asking these questions after taking a conflict away, students will realize how that conflict shaped other pieces of the story and moved the story along. And if it didn’t—well, that is a huge activity on its own.

What types of conflict activities in literature will you share with students. Add literary elements activities to your literature unit.

Write a correspondence.

I see students use this choice to examine the history behind famous events. For instance, if a novel is set during World War II, students can draft letters between officers from the story.

I’ve also seen students write email correspondences between coaches when they read Mike Lupica books. The emails allow students to analyze the conflicts between players, coaches, and other characters.

Draft a break-up song or poem.

Is a conflict a broken heart? Write a song or poem from the distraught character’s point of view. Include key elements from the story as lyrics.

File a police report.

A police report works well if a physical conflict is involved. I’ve also seen students take a humorous turn with this option, like with “The Monkey’s Paw.” Students will try to explain the situation (which is impossible!) to an outside source.

As a slight alternative, students have also created an insurance report for a car accident. In Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall, the car accident is a crucial part of the story. Not to spoil the story, but the car accident is reviewed multiple times.

Research authentic parallels.

A conflict might be in a book because real events inspired the author. For instance, Angie Thomas modeled Khali from The Hate U Give after several incidents of police killing unarmed black men.

Conflict activities for literary analysis may need specifically tailored for individual stories, and variations of these start discussions. For when you need a quick activity to study a novel or short story’s conflicts, I hope this list of literary elements activities gets you started.

Looking for extra, ready to print and teach materials to teach conflict? This Conflict Graphic Organizer Bundle will work work with any novel or short story to set students up for success with literary analysis.

Short stories to teach conflict are available online for free. Use these TEN conflict activities for literary analysis with short stories or any piece of literature in your high school language arts classroom. Meet literature standards while teaching conflict in literature. Confilct activities: download this free PDF for literature activities & add to any novel unit or lit circle activity. Join high school English teachers with conflict activities for literary analysis.

Short stories to teach conflict.

But! If you are looking for short stories to teach conflict, I have ideas for you as well.

Quicksand by Nella Larsen

Nella Larsen was a writer during the Harlem Renaissance, and Quicksand is a novella, but mature classes could read it, or you could pull an excerpt from it.

Conflicts in Quicksand are both internal and external. A Black female during the early 1900s (Helga Crane) faces internal conflict due to her family backgrounds. She also experiences external conflict from society and people’s treatment of her.

There Will Come Soft Rains

I love this science fiction story by Ray Bradbury, and I’ve found that I can teach multiple elements with this story. If you are looking to teach the conflict “humans vs. technology,” Bradbury’s story will work. The humans are dead, killed by nuclear war, and their remaining home functions without them. Students can endlessly discuss the conflict of humans’ reliance on technology.

The Lady or The Tiger

Students always debate the conflict that the woman had in this story! The premise that a woman would choose for her boyfriend a new wife or a certain death is so goofy that students open up and debate the feelings surrounding love. As a warning, I have had classes find the story incredibly dumb (their words!), but I have had success. If you have a goofy class who will suspend their disbelief, you can add “The Lady and The Tiger” to your short stories to teach conflict.

Why I Live at the P.O.

Eudora Welty’s story about an angry sister moving to the post office is hysterical and is a classic of American literature. The family’s disfunction and hidden beliefs add to the internal conflicts Sister faces. Students find the story incredibly goofy (it is!) and are quite open to discussing the multiple conflicts.

I love Amy Tan, and I often teach her writing. In “Two Kinds,” the mother and daughter have internal conflicts which manifest into external conflicts. English teachers can cover generational conflicts as well as cultural conflicts.

I hope these short stories to teach conflict fit your audience and your curriculum. You can use any of the above conflict activities with the perfect story.

Conflict activities for literary analysis: ELA puzzle pieces

No template or set of task cards will work for explaining literary conflict to all classes. When creating conflict activities for literary analysis, consider what your classes need for understanding, what story will provide ample discussion points, and what pieces can leverage readers toward true analysis.

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Types of conflict activity can include conflict graphic organizers. A literary conflict lesson plan should include a variety of activities.

literary analysis literary device literary devices

United States Institute of Peace

Conflict styles assessment.

Classroom Material Type: Lesson & Activity Resources

Conflict management styles

types of conflict assignment

Ivan Andreev

Demand Generation & Capture Strategist, Valamis

September 17, 2021 · updated April 2, 2024

20 minute read

An absolutely essential aspect of being a good leader is understanding how to manage conflicts.

Without an understanding of the five conflict management styles and the correct way to implement them in various situations, a manager is left handling conflict without a guideline.

When trying to come up with quick solutions to problems, often issues are not properly resolved and will resurface down the line.

What is conflict management?

  • Accommodating
  • Compromising
  • Collaboration

Conflict management assessments

Conflict management styles quiz, how to manage conflict.

This key management skill involves using different tactics depending on the situation, negotiation, and creative thinking. With properly managed conflict, an organization is able to minimize interpersonal issues, enhance client satisfaction, and produce better business outcomes.

Workplace conflict does not automatically mean that there are specific employees at fault, although in some cases that will be the issue. If you have employees who question the status quo and are pushing to make changes that they feel would be positive for the organization, that can indicate that your organization has a high level of employee engagement .

Conflict can also mean that employees are comfortable enough to challenge each other and that they feel as though their conflicts will be fairly resolved by the organization.

Conflict management, when done properly, can even increase the organizational learning of an organization through the questions asked during the process.

The 5 conflict management styles

When it comes to conflict, there is no one solution that will work in all situations. Each situation will be different, from the trigger of the conflict to the parties involved.

A manager skilled in conflict resolution should be able to take a birds-eye view of the conflict and apply the conflict management style that is called for in that specific situation.

1. Accommodating

This style is about simply putting the other parties needs before one’s own. You allow them to ‘win’ and get their way.

Accommodation is for situations where you don’t care as strongly about the issue as the other person, if prolonging the conflict is not worth your time, or if you think you might be wrong . This option is about keeping the peace, not putting in more effort than the issue is worth, and knowing when to pick battles.

While it might seem somewhat weak, accommodation can be the absolute best choice to resolve a small conflict and move on with more important issues . This style is highly cooperative on the part of the resolver but can lead to resentment.

Pros : Small disagreements can be handled quickly and easily, with a minimum of effort. Managers can build a reputation as an easygoing person, and employees will know that they can speak their mind about problems without reprisal.

Cons : Managers might be viewed as weak if they accommodate too often. Using this technique with larger or more important issues will not solve any issues in a meaningful way and should absolutely be avoided.

Example: In a marketing meeting, the colors for the new spring campaign are being discussed. Raymond is adamant that choice A is the best choice. Gina thinks that choice B is slightly better, but decides to let Raymond choose the colors, to avoid arguing about two choices that she thinks are both fine.

2. Avoiding

This style aims to reduce conflict by ignoring it, removing the conflicted parties, or evading it in some manner. Team members in conflict can be removed from the project they are in conflict over, deadlines are pushed, or people are even reassigned to other departments.

This can be an effective conflict resolution style if there is a chance that a cool-down period would be helpful or if you need more time to consider your stance on the conflict itself.

Avoidance should not be a substitute for proper resolution , however; pushing back conflict indefinitely can and will lead to more (and bigger) conflicts down the line.

Pros : Giving people time to calm down can solve a surprising amount of issues. Time and space can give a much-needed perspective to those in conflict, and some issues will resolve themselves. Managers show that they trust employees to act like adults and solve issues.

Cons : If used in the wrong situations, this technique will make conflicts worse. Managers can seem incompetent if they overuse avoidance because employees will think that they are incapable of handling disagreements.

Example: Jake and Amy have been collaborating on the new UX design for weeks. The deadline is looming and they are increasingly unable to agree on changes. The deadline is pushed back and they both are given the day to work on other projects. The space to take a break from each other, as well as the extra time to complete their project, allows them to cool down and resume in a more collaborative mindset.

3. Compromising

This style seeks to find the middle ground by asking both parties to concede some aspects of their desires so that a solution can be agreed upon.

This style is sometimes known as lose-lose , in that both parties will have to give up a few things in order to agree on the larger issue. This is used when there is a time crunch, or when a solution simply needs to happen, rather than be perfect .

Compromise can lead to resentment, especially if overused as a conflict resolution tactic, so use sparingly.

Pros : Issues can be resolved quickly, and the parties in conflict will leave understanding more about the other person’s perspective. Compromise can set the stage for collaboration down the road, and allows both parties to feel heard. Managers using this tactic are seen as facilitating agreement, being hands-on and finding solutions.

Cons : No one leaves completely happy. In some cases, one side might feel as though they sacrificed too much, and be unwilling to compromise again in the future. Managers who rely on this technique will burn up their employees goodwill and be seen as unable to execute collaboration.

Example: Rosa and Charles are in charge of the advertising budget for the next quarter. Rosa wants to hire a full-time social media person, while Charles wants to increase targeted digital ads. A compromise is reached by hiring a social media person to work part-time, with the remainder of the budget being spent on digital advertising.

4. Competing

This style rejects compromise and involves not giving in to others viewpoints or wants.

One party stands firm in what they think is the correct handling of a situation, and does not back down until they get their way.

This can be in situations where morals dictate that a specific course of action is taken, when there is no time to try and find a different solution or when there is an unpopular decision to be made. It can resolve disputes quickly, but there is a high chance of morale and productivity being lessened.

Note: This is not a style that should be relied upon heavily.

Pros : Managers using this style show that they are strong and will not back down on their principles. Disputes are solved quickly, as there is no space for any disagreement or discussion.

Cons : Managers using this style will be seen as unreasonable and authoritarian. Handling conflicts by crushing any dissent will not lead to happy, productive employees, nor will it lead to finding the best solutions in most cases.

Example: Sophia is the head of her department. Within her staff, she has been dealing with several conflicts. First, Paul and Kevin could not agree on where to hold the annual team-building activity, she stepped in and decided that the department would do an escape room. Second, Cecile and Eduardo have been fighting over which one of them will have to deal with a particularly difficult client. Neither wants to put in the time and effort and has been arguing that it is the other’s job to deal with it. Sophia decides it is Cecile’s job to handle the client, even though it arguably could be either person’s job. Third, Alex has come to Sophia several times, asking for permission to change the management of a project that he is running. He thinks that the changes he proposes will make the project much more successful. Sophia will not budge on the way the project is run and tells him to get the job done the way she has ordered him to. As you can see, in the first example, Sophia made a quick decision to stop a small conflict from escalating or wasting more time. This is an appropriate use of this style. In the second decision, while she solved an issue, she created another one: Cecile is now resentful. Especially in cases where a boss favors an employee, this type of unilateral decision making will lead to angry employees. In the third situation, Sophia should not have used the competing style. Not only is Alex now upset that he is not being heard, but Sophia is also missing an opportunity to improve the project.

5. Collaboration

This style produces the best long-term results, at the same time it is often the most difficult and time-consuming to reach.

Each party’s needs and wants are considered, and a win-win solution is found so that everyone leaves satisfied. This often involves all parties sitting down together, talking through the conflict and negotiating a solution together.

This is used when it is vital to preserve the relationship between all parties or when the solution itself will have a significant impact.

Pros : Everyone leaves happy. A solution that actually solves the problems of the conflict is found, and the manager who implements this tactic will be seen as skilled.

Cons : This style of conflict management is time-consuming. Deadlines or production may have to be delayed while solutions are found, which might take a long time, depending on the parties involved and can lead to losses.

Example: Terry and Janet are leading the design of a new prototype. They are having difficulties, as Terry wants to incorporate a specific set of features. Janet wants to incorporate a different set of features. To reach a solution, they sit down, talk through each feature, why it is (or isn’t) important, and finally reach a solution, incorporating a mix of their features and some new ones they realized were important as they negotiated.

In each of the above conflict management examples, a solution is found, but there will be lasting effects on morale, productivity, and overall happiness of employees, depending on how that solution was reached. Skilled conflict management is minimizing the lasting effects of conflicts by using the right tactic at the right time.

types of conflict assignment

L&D strategy framework

You will receive a list of questions along with a spreadsheet template to help you analyse your L&D strategy.

It can be helpful to understand the style of conflict management that a manager uses.

During the interview process, a conflict management quiz can highlight which prospective employees are effective in their conflict management and resolution, and which need some work.

Generally, a conflict management assessment will ask managers to rate on a scale of 1 to 5 how often they would do a specific action.

Using this information, an organization can decide if pursuing conflict management training is necessary. For this type of quiz, there should be between 15 and 30 questions to give a holistic view of the person’s conflict management skills.

Rate how often you use the following types of actions on a scale of 1 to 5:

  • When there is an argument, I will leave the situation as quickly as possible
  • In conflicts, I discuss the situation with all parties to try and find the best solution
  • I use negotiation often to try and find a middle ground between the conflicted parties
  • I know the best path to take and will argue it until others see that I am correct
  • I prefer to keep the peace, rather than argue to get my way
  • I will keep disagreements to myself, rather than bring them up
  • I find it best to keep communication active when there is a disagreement, so I can find a solution that works for everyone
  • I enjoy disagreements and find satisfaction in winning them
  • Disagreements make me anxious and I will work to minimize them
  • I am happy to meet people halfway
  • It is important to me to recognize and meet the expectations of others
  • I pride myself on seeing all sides of a conflict and understanding all of the issues involved
  • I enjoy arguing my case until the other side concedes that I am correct
  • Conflict does not engage me, I prefer to fix the problem and move on to other work
  • I don’t feel the need to argue my point of view, it is less stressful to agree with others
  • Questions 1, 6 and 9 illustrate an avoidant style
  • Questions 5, 11 and 15 illustrate an accommodating style
  • Questions 3, 10 and 14 illustrate a compromising style
  • Questions 4, 8 and 13 illustrate a competing style
  • Questions 2, 7 and 12 illustrate a collaborative style

Add up your scores for each style, and this will show you the styles that you most rely on.

1. Be calm and try to establish a dialogue

Remaining calm is a staple of any successful conversation, especially if you’re dealing with contentious issues.

When you’re managing conflicts within the workplace, your demeanor is the first step, how you bond with those dealing with conflict is the next.

It can be difficult to build rapport whilst simultaneously resolving issues, but you’ll find it makes the entire process much easier and helps you bring both sides to reach a resolution that everyone feels good about.

In short, if there’s no dialogue, you have no chance of resolving conflict.

To create this open conversation required to resolve a conflict, you need to empathize with the person you’re speaking to, and create a sort of bond.

While you may not agree with what they’re saying, you can still accept it. Accept their views and opinions for what they are, and move forward with your new insight.

Remember, any kind of conflict, even those in which you’re not involved can be stressful to deal with. As humans, our instinct is to avoid those situations that make us feel uncomfortable and anxious.

However, as the mediator, this is an occasion to which you must rise. Rather than envisioning the problems that may occur, try to create a vision for yourself in which you feel incredible relief and satisfaction at conquering this hurdle.

2. Don’t take any sides

In short: remain neutral while you talk to both parties and investigate the issue, even if the problem seems rather forthright in the beginning.

Any conflict can cause hostility, and it’s important to show that you’re a neutral third party. While maintaining a calm demeanor, you should also be careful not to show either party preference.

Even if it seems that one person is right, you need to avoid showing your opinion. Remember, your job is to be a mediator that helps resolve the conflict.

Even when one person becomes frustrated, you must strive to maintain a placid appearance. If you, yourself, become frustrated or impassioned, it will be even more difficult for the people having the conflict to calm down and resolve their differences.

It can be especially hard not to take sides when one of the people involved in the conflict is, themselves, a manager or supervisor.

For instance, an employee may feel as though a supervisor is unfairly targeting them for disciplinary action- their peers are late all the time, but their peers are never spoken to about being late when the employee themselves is always reminded when they’re tardy.

The reason behind this may actually be that the supervisor shows certain employees favoritism- however, it may also be the case that the employee in question has a much longer record of being late (perhaps 5-10 times in their career) while the others have simply been tardy a couple of times.

In some cases, it would be good to bring HR into the conversation, especially when the conflict occurs with an employee’s manager.

3. Investigate the origins and source of the conflict

This can certainly be one of the most difficult aspects of managing conflict in the workplace. As with any disagreement, chances are that every person involved has their own perspective on what happened, and who is right.

The really difficult task behind this isn’t necessarily defining the action that caused both parties to hit a boiling point- rather, it’s determining what the true issue at hand is, and if there are other things that have led this one point to become a large issue.

For instance, one person may start shouting at a co-worker over delegating the majority of a project budget to software development. However, chances are that the budget isn’t the only issue simmering below the surface for these two co-workers. Project budgets aren’t simple, but they’re rarely the sole reason for an extreme conflict between two people- often, many people are involved in these decisions. In a case like this, one co-worker may feel slighted because the other takes credit for shared work, refuses to do their part of the paperwork, etc. The budget just happens to be the breaking point.

Depending on where the conflict in question takes place, and the duration, you may need to also speak to other employees. Find as many credible sources as you need to in determining the cause.

4. Talk to both sides

For this step, you should talk to both parties separately, in a private place where you won’t be overheard.

Depending on what each party says started the conflict, you may even need to circle back to clarify some parts of the story.

Sometimes you can speak to both parties together, although it’s best to avoid an initial discussion with both people at once. People may not feel comfortable speaking openly with the other person in the room.

You may need to take notes on each person’s version of the conflict. Remember, even though you’re speaking to both people individually, you still need to retain an impartial attitude so neither one feels as though you’re taking sides.

Ask each person what caused the conflict, if there have been past conflicts, and get their opinions on how to resolve the situation and prevent future issues.

After meeting with the employees in conflict, you may also need to discuss the conflict and the plan to resolve it with relevant management members. This keeps everyone informed, and allows managers and supervisors to help ensure each party keeps up their end of the deal.

5. Identify how the problem can be solved

After finding the true origins of the conflict, you need to search for a solution.

In an ideal situation, you can find a solution that suits each party equally well. For instance, if both parties are arguing over desk space, consider moving their placement in the office for an easy resolution. In this case, both parties are expected to move, so neither person feels as though they’re singled out.

In other cases of smaller conflicts, simply having each person apologize and move on can be an agreeable solution.

Unfortunately, finding a mutually agreeable solution isn’t always possible.

This can happen If one employee is clearly instigating conflict, for instance, in such a case you may need to ‘write them up’ or put them on a disciplinary notice or a behavioral performance improvement plan (PIP).

Of course, this all depends on the severity of the conflict (for instance, if an employee is consistently demeaning and disrespectful to others).

It’s a good idea to independently ask each party what they feel an adequate and fair solution would be and try to incorporate each idea into your solution.

6. Try to find a common goal and agree on the solution

While it’s your job to determine the solution, you still need each party to agree to the solution.

This may involve you explaining the benefits of the agreement if one employee is more reluctant. However, as long as you find a fair solution, it should be possible to reason with each party and get them to agree to move forward and work toward a common goal.

Specify what each employee is expected to do as their part of the conflict resolution, so each party will know what the next step is, and what they need to do.

7. Review how the agreed decision was implemented

Now you can gather both parties together and discuss the action everyone will take to resolve the conflict.

It should now be clear what is expected of each party, and why the decision is made.

As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” This is a good way to think of your conflict resolution. Some problems are easier to fix, and others may take a long time. However, you shouldn’t expect everyone to agree and then assume all future problems will disappear.

Plan to check in with each party, and their supervisors (assuming the direct supervisor isn’t involved in the conflict, and if they are, contact higher management and/or HR for their feedback).

Remind each party of their obligations under the original agreement, and ask their opinion of the progress thus far, and if the conflict has truly been resolved.

Asking supervisors after speaking to the two parties in contention can help you get a more unbiased assessment of the progress and whether each person is keeping up their end of the deal.

8. Find how to avoid such conflicts in the future

Every conflict is an opportunity to learn, and to create a better workplace for tomorrow.

The solution you find to avoid future conflicts will depend heavily on the conflict you just helped resolve.

Certain conflicts, such as personal problems between employees (these may extend to, or originate outside of, the workplace) are best resolved by keeping the employees at a distance from one another and having both agree to keep a professional attitude at work.

Other conflicts, such as those over shared spaces or equipment, can be good learning opportunities to avoid similar situations in the future. For example, if two employees have a disagreement about shared company property, consider implementing a sign-up sheet that allows employees to reserve a timeslot to use these resources.

Or, if employees have a conflict over space, you might consider rearranging some parts of the office, when practical, to create a layout that better suits productivity.

Each style is useful, depending on the situation, but as mentioned above, some are weaker than others and should not be relied upon too heavily.

Conflict is an unavoidable reality in the workplace. Smart organizations know this and prepare their management with the proper conflict management skills to handle and resolve workplace conflicts quickly and peacefully.

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types of conflict assignment

Conflict In Nursing: Types, Strategies, and Resolutions

types of conflict assignment

No job is completely drama-free, and travel nursing is no exception : conflict in nursing definitely exists, making conflict resolution an important (albeit underrated) skill. Especially now, we’ve felt the influence of a changing healthcare landscape which influences care and patient rights- how do we navigate changes as a team when differences arise?

Trusted Health is always here to assist if conflict arises throughout your travel nursing contract. Our nurse advocates are experts in a wide range of nursing support. Now, let’s talk about our top tried-and-true conflict resolution strategies in nursing! ‍

What Is Conflict in a Nursing Setting?

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines conflict in part as any “struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands.” Interpersonal conflict occurs when that struggle is between two or more people and can actually arise at many different relationship levels.: 

An example of this would be between doctors and nurses, between patients and nurses, and even between nurses! 

Not all conflicts are created equal, and that’s important to know. Developing a reliable way to determine the basis of any issue in which you’re not seeing eye-to-eye with someone else is the first step to creating a roadmap to conflict resolution. And by taking this step, you’re increasing your ability to leverage empathy and pay attention to behavioral clues that can help you identify the best approach to resolve the situation at hand.  ‍

What Creates Conflict In Healthcare Settings?

Different people with different personal and professional backgrounds will often have different opinions on the best course of care . Misunderstandings, especially in a fast-paced healthcare setting, can and will occur. Add in the stress inherent in caring for (and saving) lives, and it’s no wonder that we expect to face conflict in nursing and other healthcare specialties. 

But there’s a difference between conflict and hostility. In fact, most sources of conflict in healthcare shouldn’t lead to hostility. While you may disagree with the patient care plan, be unhappy with the way that someone is handling a situation, or even seriously question the ethics of certain procedures, there are ways to de-escalate tension and practice conflict resolution skills in nursing.

And by learning ( and practicing ) proper conflict resolution strategies, you’ll not only be making your day-to-day easier, you’ll be redirecting everyone’s energy and focus to the patients and their families―the people who need it most.  ‍

How does unresolved conflict impact patient care?

Not only does unresolved conflict make for an uncomfortable workplace environment, but it can also negatively impact patient care. For example, if a nurse has a concern or question or is worried they will be criticized or judged for not knowing the answer, they may choose not to speak up. This can lead to incorrect processes and errors, especially in new environments. 

Unresolved conflict can also create a tense environment where one nurse is less apt to offer help or assistance to another nurse if needed. This can lead to delays in patient care, frustration, and decreased satisfaction for healthcare staff and patients. 

Unresolved conflict can negatively impact patients and nurses alike. Now, before we dig deeper into conflict resolution strategies in nursing, let’s learn a little more about common types of conflict that occur.  ‍

Types of Conflict in Nursing

Issue-based conflict in nursing.

Issue-based conflicts occur when the root cause is a disagreement about how to handle a problem at hand. This is the most straightforward of the types of conflict that you’ll encounter in nursing, as the main source of tension is simply a difference in approach to a common solution. Accordingly, it’s often the easiest type of conflict to resolve.

As long as communication remains open, clarification (and sometimes compromise) can forge a path agreeable to both parties. 

Example: Based on his experience from previous travel nurse assignments, a travel nurse new to a facility disagrees with the way a staff nurse is changing a patient’s bandages. Instead of trying to coerce the staff nurse into adapting his preferred method, the travel nurse consults with other nurses on the unit and realizes that his preferred way of changing bandages is different from facility protocol. The travel nurse adapts to the facility’s protocol for changing patient bandages while on that assignment.  ‍

Ego-Based Conflict

Ego-based conflicts occur when a disagreement about how to handle a problem at hand is complicated or exacerbated by the risk of damaging one or more party’s sense of self-esteem or perceived standing in the relationship. This type of conflict is more complex, as the issue at hand is deeper than surface-level; one or more of the individuals involved may need to examine themselves more introspectively to better understand where their conviction comes from.

For example, is the conflict driven by a desire to create a better solution, or is it driven by the need to be “right?"

A simple way to reduce ego-based interpersonal conflict in nursing is to avoid situations that may worsen personality clashes with coworkers, superiors, or patients as much as possible. Instead, choose a private, or neutral, setting to engage individual(s) in dialogue as early as possible to de-escalate any perceived tensions.

Example: A travel nurse approaches a physician to double-check an order for medication before administering the medication to its intended patient. The physician―interpreting the question as a sign of distrust in his own expertise―publicly lashes back at the nurse and reports his dissatisfaction with the travel nurse to the charge nurse on duty. Instead of responding publicly in kind, the travel nurse enlists the help and support of the charge nurse to find an opportunity to discuss the incident and resolve hard feelings with the physician privately.  ‍

Values/Ethics-Based Conflict 

Value-based conflicts occur when the source of disagreement arises because of a difference in each individual’s values or ethics. Our values and ethics come from a variety of places: personal background, life experience, work environment, industry norms, education, and so many other places. They’re also traits that guide the way we interact with and identify others. It is important to also acknowledge with recent changes in our healthcare system around abortion rights and Covid-19, this can feel more challenging than ever.

Because values and ethics often create such a cornerstone to our beliefs, tensions based on a difference of values and ethics may not come to a clean resolution, and that’s okay. 

It’s important to understand that differences in personal values and ethics, and conflicts in nursing may occur because a procedure, practice, or opinion that you’re witnessing (or holding) is against the rules, regulations, or ethics of the nursing and travel healthcare industry. If you’re caught in one of the first two situations, not only are these conflicts reasonable and expected, they're something you should take the initiative to resolve conflict (in fact, you might have to if you want to keep your job as a nurse).

On the other hand, codes of ethics exist to keep patients and providers safe, and as a clinician, it’s important to do your part to uphold them. 

Example: A travel nurse overhears her patients and their families discussing moral beliefs and political views that are completely different from her own. Regardless of their differences in opinion, this nurse still strives to provide this patient with the highest level of care and compassion possible and even makes an extra effort to chat about common interests with the patient, making the patient’s stay in the hospital a bit more bearable.  ‍

Two women sitting outside talking.

Where Are These Sources of Conflict Coming From?

One critical step in resolving nursing conflict is understanding where these conflicts arise from. One of the most significant root causes of conflict in nursing is simply the healthcare environment itself. As a nurse, you constantly work in a challenging environment. Your days are filled with critical and time-sensitive situations, imperfect information, and constant distractions. Emotions and stress run high, and opportunities for conflict naturally surface. 

While encountering conflict is sometimes unavoidable, it is never ok, and it is never a part of your job as a nurse to feel belittled, disrespected, or experience verbal or physical abuse. If the conflict you encounter turns into more serious or unacceptable behavior, always reach out to other staff, leadership, or your nurse advocate for further assistance and support.  ‍

Nurse-to-Nurse Conflict    

Nurses work closely with other nurses, and conflict can arise despite everyone’s best intentions. Nurses may see things as different priorities, have different ways of doing a task, or perceive one’s workload as unfair or unsafe compared to another’s.   

Leadership & Administration to Nurse Conflict 

Decisions made by leadership and administration significantly affect nurses. This type of conflict often arises from differences of opinion in staffing decisions, staffing ratios, pay, benefits, and implementation of or changes in policies and procedures.  

Doctor-to-Nurse Conflict

Doctors are one of many types of healthcare colleagues nurses work with. Doctor-to-nurse conflict often occurs due to incomplete or difficult communication or lack of understanding of the time or resource constraints of the other profession. 

Patient-to-Nurse Conflict

The last main type of conflict can often be the most difficult to encounter. Patients are often never having a good day when they are in the hospital, and the system that is there to help them is often frustrating and challenging to navigate. Patients can also be hesitant to take direction, advice, or agree to a plan of care for a wide range of reasons, which can create conflict with the care team trying to help them. 

Conflict Resolution Strategies in Nursing

Anyone who faces interpersonal conflict in nursing has a variety of options on how to handle it. In fact, people’s approaches to conflict usually follow one of five routes :

  • ‍ Competing: Nurses whose conflict resolution strategies revolve around competing tend to be overly assertive and preoccupied with “winning” the argument rather than coming to the best possible solution.  ‍ ‍
  • Obliging : Nurses who choose to use obliging as their main conflict resolution strategy are people-pleasers. They’re fine accommodating other ideas even at the expense of shelving or de-prioritizing their own. This can be helpful when it moves the best solution forward, but it can also be dangerous because it may lead to a case where an individual withholds valid convictions or opinions just to “keep the peace.” ‍ ‍
  • Avoiding: Nurses who rely on avoidance as a conflict resolution strategy choose to avoid the source of conflict or leave it alone altogether rather than confronting it head on. Similar to obliging, avoiding increases the chances of a group going with unvetted (or under-vetted) ideas, which can be harmful in the long run.  ‍ ‍
  • Compromising: Instead of adopting a “me vs. you” mentality, nurses approaching interpersonal conflict resolution from a compromising mentality aim to reach a solution that makes both sides at least partially happy. By doing so, both sides leave with something they want and are able to move forward with implementing a solution. ‍ ‍
  • Collaborating: Nurses who choose collaboration as their conflict resolution strategy incorporate others’ ideas into their own; while the result may not be as half-and-half as with the compromising method, the solution still has aspects of everyone’s opinions and input, increasing group buy-in and general satisfaction with the final decision.  ‍

Now, which strategy do you most commonly rely on? Chances are, you’ve done one of the first three. Can you also think of times when you engaged in strategies four or five? What did you do differently, how did it affect the outcome, and how can you show up for yourself + others using those methods in the future?

And according to researchers, out of the five conflict resolution strategies outlined above, nurses tend to rely most heavily on the avoiding method .

This is a problem: not only does this method often fail to result in satisfaction with those involved, but it also carries negative effects on patient care outcomes and group cohesion.

So, when faced with conflict in nursing (or anywhere, for that matter), what are the best methods to employ?  Compromising and Collaborating . 

The next time you end up in a situation that demands conflict resolution, remember to rely on the compromise and collaborate strategies―together, these approaches ensure that you approach your next conflict in the right way.  ‍

Attitude Is Everything

Beyond understanding what strategies you’re likely to use (and comparing them to the most effective strategies that should be used), you should also be aware of the attitude you embrace in any situation that may result in tensions or conflict in nursing. 

You should enter any conversations aimed at conflict resolution with the goal of fully understanding all sides of the story. Empathize with their point of view (and the aspects that could justify their opinion) to the best of your ability. 

When working toward conflict resolution with patients, fellow nurses, or other healthcare professionals, it’s also important to stay calm and positive, celebrate each step of progress you’re making in coming closer to a mutual solution, and keep your focus on moving forward as a team rather than ruminating on past issues. 

Finally, you should remember that the person on the other side is just that―a person. As such, their opinions, convictions, and voice should be respected, regardless of how strongly you disagree with them. Everyone is right and wrong at different times.

Separate your feelings for the issue from your feelings for the person. ‍

But Don’t Forget Communication Skills

In addition to the right attitude, monitoring your communication style is also crucial when handling conflict resolution as a nurse. 

Remember to come prepared. That’s right: you should rehearse (or at minimum, have an idea of) what you want to say before sharing your feelings and concerns with the patients, fellow nurses, or other healthcare professionals whom they’re intended for. If you’re asking someone to sit down and chat through an issue, chances are, things are already a little more tense than usual.

In these situations, it becomes even more important to choose your words wisely, and the best way to ensure that your words are chosen wisely is to choose them ahead of time . 

When preparing what you’ll say, remember that it’s not enough to simply prepare an explanation of what you perceive the problem to be and how it negatively affects you, but also a possible solution that would make sense for all sides to carry through. It’s likely that you’ll end up tweaking your proposed solution based on feedback from the person on the other side.

However, coming to the table with a solution in hand both shows that you’re serious about moving forward and orients the conversation toward working together to find a common solution.

At the core of any great communicator is a great listener. And for us nurses, that should come as no surprise: listening to patients make us more effective, approachable, and knowledgeable caregivers. Yet, it’s a super common (and terrible) habit for people to prepare a “rebuttal” or response to what someone is saying while they’re saying it. So first and foremost, instead of making sure you’re heard, make the effort to ensure that you’re hearing the other side . You can always ask for a moment to collect your thoughts for your reply afterward!

While communicating your concerns and opinions with the other side, remember to bring your points back to the issue at hand. Following up a conflict in nursing with criticism over opposite perspectives or beliefs (rather than empathy and validation) will likely only put the individual you’re speaking with on the defensive. This will only lessen your chances of coming to a mutually agreeable solution.

Likewise, your proposed solutions should focus on the problem, not the person.

Group of people sitting outside talking

Steps Toward Conflict Resolution

Now that we understand the basics of effective conflict resolution strategies in nursing, let’s go over the steps that you can take to follow through the next time you and another person don’t see eye-to-eye on an issue.  ‍

First, choose your battles.

Some differences in opinion simply aren’t worth turning your 13-week assignment into a battleground. Some facilities and units routinely treat their permanent staff better than their travel nurses, and drawing a line in the sand will only make your stay there more difficult and less productive. Be clear on where your red line truly lies and what behaviors and activities truly cross it.

Actions that put patient safety at risk, hinder your ability to keep patients safe, or neglect an agreement outlined in writing in advance between yourself, your agency, and the facility are absolutely grounds for speaking up. Getting stuck with a difficult patient with a penchant for the call bell? Not so much.  ‍

Second, know your part.

Before confronting any other parties about an issue that you’re experiencing, analyze the role that you may have played in worsening the situation. Were you unclear or unreasonable in any of your requests? Could anything that you said or did be taken as rude, condescending, unhelpful, or mean-spirited (even if it wasn’t your intent)? Remember that there are at least two sides to every story and always enough blame to go around.

You should approach conflict resolution willing to first own up to your part then create a roadmap to meet the other side halfway.

Third, reach out to the other person or people involved.

Set up a time to speak with them in private. This can take a bit of planning on your part. Choose a time that’s well after the event so that emotions have a chance to fizzle out, yet not so far out that your talk is rehashing old wounds. Pick a spot away from the stress and rush of the hospital floor if possible, and prepare what you’d like to say ahead of time so that you’re able to express your thoughts clearly.  ‍

Fourth, keep an open mind.

Often, these disagreements are based on fundamental misunderstandings, and ultimately the person on the other end―whether they be a physician, a nurse, or a patient’s family member or friend―want the same thing as you do: to see the patient healthy, happy, and out of the hospital! That shared goal is more than enough to start building the common ground you need to move past whatever conflict in nursing that originally occurred. ‍

Fifth, if you’ve taken the steps above to no avail, you may need to turn to higher-ups for mediation.

Unfortunately, some issues are simply out of your hands and above your pay grade―in these cases, your best option is ensuring that it’s thoroughly and swiftly reported to someone in authority. This way, if any fallout does occur, you have a clear record of any roles you did and did not play in the ultimate outcome.  ‍

Finally, remember to keep your recruiter ( or Nurse Advocate ) in the loop at every step of the way.

While different recruiters will have varying levels of involvement in your experience on assignment, most are willing and happy to help escalate any or your concerns or issues at the facility whenever possible. Remember, your happiness and job satisfaction is in their best interests, too!

If you end up having conflict with your coworkers, bosses, or patients, remember to keep your recruiter in the loop at every step of the way. ‍

The Best Option? No Conflict in the First Place

Five Tips to Help De-Escalate Conflict

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” - Benjamin Franklin

While conflict resolution is a helpful and effective tool for nurses to manage both social and working relationships, avoiding sources of conflict in nursing altogether is by far the preferred method. And doing so isn’t as hard as you think!

Five Tips to Help You De-escalate Conflict Situations

  • ‍ Be respectful: Remember that you are a guest at each facility. They’ve also given you a chance to learn, grow, and help others. You are also a representative of your agency and yourself. Everyone deserves respect, so be respectful to those around you, regardless of personal feelings or initial impressions. ‍
  • ‍ Stay in your lane: Your primary role as a travel nurse is always to help. Not to judge, not to criticize, and certainly not to serve as impromptu management consultant. Facilities often have reasons for doing things the way they do them, and these decisions may be for reasons above your pay grade and out of your control. Your opportunity as a travel nurse will teach you what practices to aspire to and what to avoid, but your assignment is not the time to voice those opinions.  ‍ ‍
  • Be friendly (or at least approachable): Approachability is an underrated trait, and it isn’t just important for building a relationship with patients. Make an early effort to get to know the other nurses you’ll be working with and ensure that they’re comfortable coming to you for help, and vice-versa! Doing so builds a sense of camaraderie on the unit, and it’s a lot easier to talk things through with a friend than a stranger.  ‍ ‍
  • Communicate clearly: As we mentioned before, misunderstandings are one of the biggest causes of conflict in nursing. And how do we clarify misunderstandings? Clear communication . ‍ ‍
  • Assume the best: Amidst the stressful environment caused by heavy patient loads, it can be easy to forget that everyone in the room wants the best for the patient. It’s why you’ve chosen to be a nurse, why the physician decided to pursue medicine, and why the patient’s loved ones are there supporting them. Even if you believe that an opinion or decision may carry negative effects, remember that it’s likely well-intentioned; so, respond accordingly. ‍

Not all cases of conflict in nursing will come to a thorough and speedy resolution―indeed, some may not be resolved at all by the time you’ve completed your assignment. And that’s okay! Not having to deal with indefinite workplace drama is one of the many upsides of being a travel nurse. 

Regardless of your relationship with medical staff or patients at your medical facility, remember to strive to be as courteous and empathetic as possible. You never know when (or if) your paths will cross again; you also don’t know who else is connected to your situation.

Word of mouth travels fast in this industry, so the best thing that you can do for yourself and the environment of your medical facility is stay positive, upbeat, and gracious. ‍

Looking for More Nursing Guides and Resources?

Sign up or log in to Trusted Health today and get started building the life you want!

Trusted Health is here to help you at every step of the way during your nursing journey. Whether you are a seasoned traveler, starting your first contract, or beginning your nursing career, we are here to advocate for and support nurses. Here are additional resources for conflict resolution: 

  • Contact your Nurse Advocate
  • Reach out to other nurses in the Trusted Community
  • Connect with the Trusted Circle
  • Focus on your mental health  
  • Recognize and avoid nursing burnout

Due to the nature of your work as a nurse, conflicts are bound to arise, and not all conflict is a bad thing. If approached with good intentions, curiosity, and an open mind, conflict can be resolved and lead to improved teamwork, communication, and understanding. When you travel with Trusted, you are always supported! 

Trusted Nurses are more than a resume. You have unique perspectives to share, ambitions to chase, new cities to explore, and experiences that can’t be summed up on a skills checklist. Let’s show the world how amazing it is to be a nurse.

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7 Types of Conflict in Literature (With Examples)

types of conflict in literature, explained below

There are 7 types of conflict in literature that writers use to create tension and drive the plot. These conflicts can be internal or external, and they often involve a character’s struggle against their surroundings or themselves.

Understanding the different types of conflicts in literature can help readers engage with the story and appreciate the complexities behind each character’s journey.

The two main categories of conflict in literature are internal and external. Internal conflicts occur within a character’s mind, as they struggle to make sense of their emotions or reconcile with past events. External conflicts, on the other hand, involve a character’s struggle against an outside force, such as society or nature.


Internal vs External Conflicts

Conflicts in literature can be divided into two main categories: internal and external. Internal conflicts occur within a character’s mind and heart, while external conflicts involve an outside force that the character is struggling against.

  • Internal conflicts are often the most compelling, as they offer insight into a character’s motivations and inner turmoil. These types of conflicts can be deeply personal, such as a struggle with addiction or mental illness, or more universal themes like morality or identity.
  • External conflicts usually involve a character battling against a force outside of them, such as another person or nature itself. These types of struggles can push characters to their limits physically and emotionally. In some cases, external conflicts may also reveal important aspects of a character’s personality that wouldn’t have been explored otherwise.

Internal Conflict Example

In Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre,” the protagonist faces a conflict between her passion and her sense of morality. She is in love with Rochester, but also knows that their social status is vastly different and this could affect their relationship severely. Jane must navigate her emotions while also considering what is right for herself and others.

External Conflict Example

In Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea,” the protagonist Santiago struggles against the natural forces of the ocean as he tries to catch a fish. Despite his determination, Santiago encounters numerous obstacles such as sharks, hunger, and fatigue. His physical battles with nature resemble that of an external conflict where he fights to survive and overcome his circumstances.

Now that we understand the difference between internal and external conflict let us delve into each type of conflict with examples from literature and movies.

Types of Conflict

1. man vs self (internal conflict).

Man vs self conflict is an internal struggle that a character experiences within themselves. This type of conflict arises when a character’s own actions, beliefs, emotions, or desires are in direct conflict with their moral or ethical values.

Often, this struggle involves characters trying to confront and overcome their self-doubts, insecurities, fears, guilt, and weaknesses.

This type of conflict can often be the most challenging for characters to overcome because it requires confronting deeply-rooted personal issues. The resolution of man vs self conflicts tends to involve personal growth and self-awareness .

Man vs Self Example in Literature

An example of Man vs Self can be seen in “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky where the protagonist Raskolnikov murders an old pawnbroker to prove his theory regarding morality through his practical deed ultimately leading him towards severe psychological stress and guilt.

Man vs Self Example in Film

In the movie “Black Swan,” Nina Sayers is struggling with herself as she tries to become the lead ballerina in her company’s production of Swan Lake. She faces immense pressure from her mother, director, herself but mostly Black Swan which represents everything she isn’t. Her fear and anxiety cause her to lose touch with reality as she battles hallucinations and paranoia while trying to find a balance between her dark and light selves.

2. Man vs Destiny (Internal Conflict)

Man vs destiny conflict is a form of internal struggle where the protagonist battles against the predetermined fate or destiny that they believe is bestowed upon them.

This struggle involves characters trying to challenge and change the course of their life or overcome a perceived inevitability.

This type of conflict often involves a battle against oneself to take control of one’s own life and make choices that could alter their future. The resolution can either be accepting the predetermined fate or changing it by taking matters into one’s own hands.

Man vs Destiny Example in Literature

An example of Man vs Destiny can be seen in “Oedipus Rex” by Sophocles, where Oedipus tries everything in his power to evade his fate predicted by Oracle. Despite his best attempts, he ultimately fulfills his prophecy.

Man vs Destiny Example in Film

In the movie “The Truman Show,” Truman Burbank is living a seemingly perfect life in Seahaven Island, unaware that he is on a reality television show. However, as he begins to question his surroundings and doubt his perceived reality, he challenges what he believes was destined for him: being part of an elaborate TV show designed since birth. He decides to break free from what was believed “his destiny” toward achieving true freedom and self-determination regardless of preordained events.

3. Man vs Society (External Conflict)

In Man vs Society conflict, a character battles against the larger society they live in and societal norms.

Man vs society usually involves a clash of individual beliefs, values or ethics with those associated with the community, government or culture. 

This type of conflict can be seen when institutionalized rules or societal expectations create hindrances to direct action such as revolutionary thought process, going against social injustice and fighting oppression.

Man vs Society Example in Literature

A famous example of Man vs Society is depicted in Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”, where protagonist Atticus Finch goes against the town’s racist ideologies by defending an innocent black man who is falsely accused of a crime. Atticus faces backlash and criticism but chooses to remain persistent in his beliefs.

Man vs Society Example in Film

The movie “Dead Poets Society” depicts a similar form of external conflict where John Keating, an English teacher, encourages his students to break free from societal conventions imposed by their strict boarding school curriculum. Through poetry and literature, he urges them to follow their hearts even if it means going against their parents’ expectations which leads them towards finding authenticity in their own lives.

4. Man vs Nature (External Conflict)

Man vs Nature is another form of external conflict where a character encounters adverse natural elements such as physical barriers, natural disasters, or environmental challenges in their journey.

This type of conflict demonstrates the power and uncontrollable forces of nature that can be controlled by nobody.

A classic example is “The Old Man and the Sea,” where the protagonist Santiago battles against an enormous marlin during his fishing expedition. Despite his perseverance, he faces numerous outside factors such as sharks, hunger, fatigue in his struggle to bring home his catch.

Example of Man vs Nature in Literature

In Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth”, Professor Lidenbrock continues on his quest despite being faced with a vast array of geological obstacles like lava-filled caverns, subterranean oceans and underground storms in their epic adventure to find out what lies beneath our world. 

Example of Man vs Nature in Film

In the movie “Cast Away,” we witness how Chuck Noland struggles after being stranded on an uninhabited island following a plane crash. He battles with nature for survival with limited interactions while gathering resources for basic needs ultimately leading towards self-discovery along with accepting nature’s immense power overwhelming humanity.

5. Man vs Technology (External Conflict)

Man vs Technology conflict portrays a protagonist in a clash against an advanced technological force such as artificial intelligence, robots/computers or other futuristic technologies.

It amplifies how modern scientific advancements and tools can lead to dire consequences underlying the risk of technology’s misuse or unintended results of their creations.

Man vs Technology Example in Literature

A prime example is Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” where Dr. Victor Frankenstein creates a monster that ultimately turns against him giving way to disastrous events highlighting how playing with the power of transformation could result in unforeseen outcomes.

Man vs Technology Example in Film

The movie “The Terminator” demonstrates an extreme level of Man vs Technology conflict, when a computerized AI system named Skynet annihilates human race post its sentience recognition becoming self aware by triggering “judgment day” wherein all humans are destroyed by its army of machines. It shows humanity’s battle to survive in the face of technological power and unstoppable machinery.

6. Man vs Man (External Conflict)

One of the most common forms of external conflict depicted in literature is Man vs Man. In this type of conflict, a protagonist encounters an antagonist who is usually opposing them out of individual interests or conflicting ideologies. 

These conflicts can take various forms such as one on one physical fights to mental battles and psychological manipulation. The resolution in these cases tends to occur through changed values or compromises or sheer triumphs.

Example of Man vs Man in Literature

A classic example includes William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” wherein the title character’s uncle, Claudius murders his father, resulting in Hamlet’s quest for revenge leading him towards his moral dilemma ultimately ending with all meeting their inevitable fate.

Example of Man vs Man in Film

The movie “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” depicts a similar kind of confrontation when struggling actor Rick Dalton feels threatened by rising star Roman Polanski moving into the house next door. However, events take a dark turn when followers of Charles Manson break into Polanski’s home to carry out horrendous acts illustrating how rivalry spirals beyond measure if unchecked ultimately leading towards tragic ending.

7. Man vs Supernatural (External Conflict)

Another type of external conflict is Man vs Supernatural. It involves a protagonist engaging in a battle against an entity smaller or greater than oneself such as mythological creatures , ghosts, aliens or unexplainable unknown forces.

Supernatural forces can sometimes be represented as a metaphor for human fears and desires that exist beyond our physical world but which directly impact our lives. For example, in Bram Stoker’s classic novel “Dracula,” the vampire Count Dracula serves as an allegory for the dangers of unchecked desire, lust and addiction.

The resolution of man vs supernatural conflicts is usually a combination of physical and mental fortitude alongside outsmarting supernatural forces. The boundary between what is real versus imaginary often remains blurred keeping viewers on edge portraying some situations being more challenging to accept than others.

Man vs Supernatural Example in Literature

One example is found in Stephen King’s “The Shining”, where Jack Torrance’s family moves into the isolated Overlook Hotel for the winter, only to be haunted by supernatural entities residing there that drive him insane ultimately leading him towards his demise.

Man vs Supernatural Example in Film

In the movie “Ghostbusters,” protagonists face an army of ghosts invading New York City requiring immediate action by a group of scientists – busting ghosts! It depicts a clash between everyday people and merely big scare many disbelieve, demonstrating how even when humans encounter metahumans or supernatural beings, they can find their way to prevail over them with human wit and intelligence.

In literature, conflicts serve as a driving force behind the plot and character development, turning reading experiences into exciting journeys filled with suspense and emotional tension. This is why knowing the common types of conflict in literature is essential for writers to create complex characters that audiences can relate to, and help readers appreciate how these characters deal with different forms of adversity outside or within themselves. By providing a more profound understanding of how characters handle challenges, good writing comes to life making readers feel connected emotionally and intellectually through each unique story.


Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 15 Animism Examples
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 10 Magical Thinking Examples
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ Social-Emotional Learning (Definition, Examples, Pros & Cons)
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4 Common Types of Team Conflict — and How to Resolve Them

  • Randall S. Peterson,
  • Priti Pradhan Shah,
  • Amanda J. Ferguson,
  • Stephen L. Jones

types of conflict assignment

Advice backed by three decades of research into thousands of team conflicts around the world.

Managers spend 20% of their time on average managing team conflict. Over the past three decades, the authors have studied thousands of team conflicts around the world and have identified four common patterns of team conflict. The first occurs when conflict revolves around a single member of a team (20-25% of team conflicts). The second is when two members of a team disagree (the most common team conflict at 35%). The third is when two subgroups in a team are at odds (20-25%). The fourth is when all members of a team are disagreeing in a whole-team conflict (less than 15%). The authors suggest strategies to tailor a conflict resolution approach for each type, so that managers can address conflict as close to its origin as possible.

If you have ever managed a team or worked on one, you know that conflict within a team is as inevitable as it is distracting. Many managers avoid dealing with conflict in their team where possible, hoping reasonable people can work it out. Despite this, research shows that managers spend upwards of 20% of their time on average managing conflict.

types of conflict assignment

  • Randall S. Peterson is the academic director of the Leadership Institute and a professor of organizational behavior at London Business School. He teaches leadership on the School’s Senior Executive and Accelerated Development Program.
  • PS Priti Pradhan Shah is a professor in the Department of Work and Organization at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. She teaches negotiation in the School’s Executive Education and MBA Programs.
  • AF Amanda J. Ferguson  is an associate professor of Management at Northern Illinois University. She teaches Organizational Behavior and Leading Teams in the School’s MBA programs.
  • SJ Stephen L. Jones is an associate professor of Management at the University of Washington Bothell. He teaches Organizational and Strategic Management at the MBA level.

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