Conflict is a state of discord caused by the actual or perceived opposition of needs, values and interests. As part of human resources and human resources South Africa there will be naturally conflict in the workplace. A conflict can be internal (within oneself) or external (between two or more individuals). Conflict as a concept can help explain many aspects of social life such as social disagreement, conflicts of interests, and fights between individuals, groups, or organizations. In political terms, “conflict” can refer to wars, revolutions or other struggles, which may involve the use of force as in the term armed conflict. Without proper social arrangement or resolution, conflicts in social settings can result in stress or tensions among stakeholders. When an interpersonal conflict does occur, its effect is often broader than two individuals involved, and can affect many associate individuals and relationships, in more or less adverse and sometimes even humorous way.
The definition of conflict is “when two or more parties, with perceived incompatible goals, seek to undermine each other’s goal-seeking capability”.
One should not confuse the distinction between the presence and absence of conflict with the difference between competition and co-operation. In competitive situations, the two or more individuals or parties each have mutually inconsistent goals, either party tries to reach their goal it will undermine the attempts of the other to reach theirs. Therefore, competitive situations will, by their nature, cause conflict. It is part of human resources and management to control this conflict in order to produce productive conflict. However, conflict can also occur in cooperative situations, in which two or more individuals or parties have consistent goals, because the manner in which one party tries to reach their goal can still undermine the other individual or party.
A clash of interests, values, actions or directions often sparks a conflict. Conflicts refer to the existence of that clash. Psychologically, a conflict exists when the reduction of one motivating stimulus involves an increase in another, so that a new adjustment is demanded. The word is applicable from the instant that the clash occurs. Even when we say that there is a potential conflict we are implying that there is already a conflict of direction even though a clash may not yet have occurred.