In detail

Conflicts: types, causes and alternative solutions

Conflicts: types, causes and alternative solutions

“The conflict is a situation of confrontation of two or more protagonists, among which there is an antagonism motivated by a confrontation of interests” (Fernández, 1999).

The conflict is inherent in the human being. We are constantly immersed in different conflicts, not only with other people, but with ourselves. Decision making or choosing the best solution to a given problem can be a conflict for anyone.

As social beings that we are, we are continually interacting with other people and from that interaction frequently conflicts of greater or lesser gravity appear. Usually, Conflicts do not usually involve violence or aggressiveness, although they do cause discomfort or nervousness before the existence of conflicting interests, either by differences of one person with another or because the choice of one decision or another can be a series of advantages and disadvantages.

Therefore, it is important to detect and analyze conflicts in the school, developing appropriate forms of action to solve them and achieve a good coexistence.


  • 1 Types of conflict
  • 2 Causes of the conflict
  • 3 Understand the conflict to solve it
  • 4 Final result according to the solution alternatives

Types of Conflict

We can distinguish three forms of conflict:

  • Real: Those involved have differences of some kind, which they have addressed but failed to solve.
  • Unreal: The conflict is the result of a misunderstanding or a misunderstanding that can be clarified and can solve the problem.
  • Made up: part of a misunderstanding or misinterpretation used deliberately to consciously provoke conflict. It can be started as a simple joke or a simple game, or by the desire to harm the contrary.

On the other hand, we can differentiate between:

  • Personal or socio-emotional conflicts: they suppose an alteration in the personal relationship between two or more people, frequently due to some misunderstanding or some unexpected behavior on the part of some of them.
  • Material or quantifiable conflicts: they derive from a difference of interests between two people due to the achievement of a material or quantifiable benefit.

Causes of the conflict


One of the most frequent causes in the development of a conflict is communication. Communication is basic in the relationship between two or more people, but it is also one of the main sources of conflict and is of vital importance in its solution.

It is very important to take maximum care of the way we communicate with others. For this, we must take into account both verbal aspects such as nonverbal.

An inadequate understanding or interpretation of the message may cause a conflict, but the same thing happens when our interlocutor presents a defensive behavior, maintains a hostile attitude or asks excessive questions. This can make the other feel questioned.

Other causes

Apart from the communication, several causes are established for a conflict to occur:

  • Relationship issues: There are difficulties in the relationship between two or more people due to the appearance of unexpected or inappropriate behaviors, stereotypes and prejudices, etc.
  • Information problems: Those involved may have different perceptions about something, which prevents them from agreeing and a discussion is generated.
  • Incompatible interests and needs: they can be material or immaterial, but when they do not coincide, they cause a conflict.
  • By preferences, values ​​or beliefs: have an emotional or psychic connotation. Not sharing a series of values, beliefs or preferences can prevent the rapprochement and the good relationship between people.
  • Structural conflicts: they refer fundamentally to the roles that are assumed in a relationship, to the symmetry or asymmetry of power.

Understand the conflict to solve it

First of all, the conflict must be analyzed in order to understand it better and contribute to solving it. To do this, they establish two phases in the process:


  • In the first place, it is necessary to know the basic points of the conflict: what has happened, who are involved, at what time and place has occurred, in what way and why.
  • Secondly, we must focus on the course of the problem, on the way in which it has been developed.
  • Thirdly, attention will be paid to the conflict, what are the causes of the conflict and what interests and goals does each of the people involved have.
  • Finally, we must analyze the physical and social context in which it has occurred, as well as other factors that may have influenced its development.

Typology of the conflict

We must bear in mind that conflicts can be of various types depending on their characteristics:

  • According to its content: political, cultural, technical, etc.
  • According to the number of people involved: between individuals, between individual / s and group / s, between small or large groups, between very small or very large groups.
  • Depending on interest on the other person different objectives are established that must be achieved:
    • Competition: both parties try to get the most benefit, regardless of whether this adversely affects them.
    • Avoidance: Those involved lose interest in solving the problem, so that both are injured.
    • Accommodation: one of the parties decides to yield and submit to the desire of the other, which imposes its conditions above the wishes of the opposite.
    • Covenant or Capitulation: is the goal of negotiation. Participants give up some benefits so that everyone can get a satisfactory solution to the problem.
    • Cooperation: both reach a beneficial solution without having to give up anything.

Final result according to the solution alternatives

  • Competition: I win / lose.
  • Avoidance: I lose / you lose.
  • Accommodation: I lose / win.
  • Covenant or Capitulation: Balance.
  • Cooperation: I win / win.