Schick (1995) defines a conflict as a “distinctive structure of desires and a belief” (p. 58). A conflict arises when an agent wants x and y wherein x and y are the only options available to the agent. Given this situation, an agent may choose to react in two ways. First, the agent may choose to avoid the conflict or second, the agent may choose to resolve the conflict. In the resolution of a conflict, the agent starts to think rationally by seizing to think that the options available to him involves choosing both x and y or losing both x and y.
In this sense, the agent enables the resolution of the conflict through an internal mediation of his or her desires. The same thing applies when it comes to interpersonal conflict. The difference between the two merely lies in the existence of a particular situation wherein the desires and beliefs of two or more agents tend to counter that of the other. This shows the manner in which conflicts enable the “balancing of power” within an agent or within a group (Rummel, 1991, p. 76).
The balancing of powers resulting from the occurrence of a conflict enables the balancing of the following elements: interests, capabilities, and wills. Rummel (1991) notes “conflict is a balancing of individual interests, capabilities, and wills. It is a simultaneous solution to the equations of power” (p. 77). Within an interpersonal conflict, it does not necessarily mean that the agent(s) whose beliefs and desires take precedence over the other is the agent(s) who hold power within a group.
The balance of powers refers to the mutual satisfaction of the different and contending interests within a group. In other words, the balance of powers may be understood as the result of the mediation within an interpersonal conflict. In the previous presentation, one of the groups presented steps that may be followed in case a conflict arises. The steps that they provided involve the agent(s) development of self-awareness.
The importance of self-awareness here can be seen if one considers that it is only through the agent(s) identification of the clashing beliefs and desires that the agent(s) will be able to achieve the resolution of the conflict. This was shown by the group through a skit that they presented in class. One might note that in the skit itself, the group was able to present that failure to develop awareness may lead to aggression which might further enhance the conflict at hand.
The importance of this skit does not lie in its means of providing an example for those who were present; it also enabled the audience’s direct experience of a conflict. Deutsch et al (2006) notes, “observing models deal effectively with difficult situations allows the observer to achieve greater freedom in coping with current and future problems of all sorts (p. 309). Despite of this, the group however, was unable to show that resolution and aggression are not the only means in which a conflict may end.
Matthews and Roberts (2004) notes that conflicts may also lead to “collaboration and appeals to authority” (p. 451). Although one might state that this also leads to the resolution of a conflict in the sense that it ends a conflict, it is important to note that conflicts that end in this manner further breeds the creation of further disagreements amongst the agent(s) involved. Matthews and Roberts (2004) further notes that in the resolution of a conflict, there are certain skills which individuals should learn.
These involve “active listening, assertiveness, expression of feelings in appropriate ways, empathy and perspective taking, cooperation, negotiation, and methods for countering bias” (p. 451). Although the group was unable to present all of these point, they were able to relay well the information that they had prepared for the presentation. In summary, given the time constraints on the group, I think the group was able to relay helpful information that will aid the members of the audience in the process of understanding and handling situations that may lead to both personal and interpersonal conflict.
References Deutsch, M. et al. (2006). The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Matthews, G. & R. Roberts. (2004). Emotional Intelligence: Science and Myth. Massachusetts: MIT Press. Rummel, R. (1991). The Conflict Helix. London: Transaction Publishers. Schick, F. (1997). Making Choices: A Recasting of Decision Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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