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The 2 types of conflict

Submitted by on Tuesday, 22 October 20135 Comments

There is one trait that is critical to master if you want to be successful at managing in Asia – or anywhere else in the world for that matter. And that trait is one most of us fear the most.

The trait I’m talking about is conflict.

Before we can discover how to master it, we need to understand conflict better.

The 2 types of conflict

Big picture, there are 2 types of conflict, and we need to be clear about the difference between the two. Have a look at the illustration below:

The 2 Types of Conflict

 Download The 2 Types of Conflict – pdf

It may be a surprise to some that one of these forms of conflict can be considered positive, and one negative.

1. Task Conflict

The first type of conflict – task conflict – can be considered positive. This is because innovation, continual improvement and the nature of the world of work itself needs a certain amount of task conflict for goals and projects to move forward, ideas to be tested, and dreams to be realised.

Each person in a team will bring his or her own perspective of reality plus his or her own skill and talent sets. To think this will not result in some form of conflict when working on a task is unrealistic.

In fact, task conflict is an essential component of progress and change and thus needs to be encouraged.

Five Star Teams

In future posts, we’ll look at two skills to ensure this task conflict stays focussed (make sure you subscribe below to receive our emails).

But task conflict may develop into a negative form of conflict, or that second, negative form of conflict may form without a task even being worked on. And that form of conflict is…

2. Relational Conflict

Relational conflict is when things can really hot up… or cool down! This is the negative form of conflict usually characterised by personality clashes, turf wars and politics.

And – as if to make relational conflict even more complicated – the conflict can be of two kinds – interpersonal – where two people are in conflict with each other, or intrapersonal – where the cause of the conflict is an inner conflict within a person him or herself!

The key thing to remember is that relational conflict is never productive.

We’ll be looking at how to master both these forms of conflicts in future posts, but for the meantime, if you are working in a team and experiencing conflict be sure to ask – which type of conflict is this?

What you can do now

If you want to gain mastery in conflict then be sure to have a look at our Five Star Teams management training programme. This powerful session equips you, and your colleagues, with the key skills for managing conflict, building trust, gaining commitment, achieving accountability and finally accomplishing results.

Just follow the link below for more details…


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