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ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES

0811-Conflict: Identification, Analysis, and Resolution

Background material by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. for Year 1 Semester 1 Biomed PPSD session on 3rd November, 2008

1.0 UNDERSTANDING THE CONFLICT

Conflict among people is human and is natural. A conflict-free situation is unimaginable. A conflict is an expressed struggle among interdependent persons with perceived incompatible goals or perceived scarce resources in presence of interference of one by the other. People with no common activities or interaction do not conflict

2.0 BACKGROUND TO CONFLICT

The cause of a conflict may not be easily identifiable. Prior bad experience may build up to a level that a minor incident triggers off a major conflict. The reaction may not be proportional to the perceived cause of the conflict. Negative behavior overdraws the emotional reserves exposing people to a major conflict even over a minor matter. Shaytan is always at the root of dissension. Develop the attitude of holding out against Shaytan's temptations.

3.0 TYPES OF CONFLICT

A conflict may be healthy when it is resolved and all learn from it. It is dysfunctional if it remains unresolved and has secondary effects. Some conflicts are structural. They are there and are only waiting to happen. Other conflicts are personal and have a lot of involved emotional and psychological relationships that even those involved may not be aware of

4.0 SELF ESTEEM AND POWER IN CONFLICT

All conflicts involve issues of self esteem and power. Low self-esteem vis-a-vis others is a cause of aggressive action meant to redress the balance. Those who wield power may misuse it to hurt others and a conflict situation is created.

5.0 CAUSES OF CONFLICT BETWEEN INDIVIDUALS

The main causes of conflict between individuals are: unbalanced power relations, jealousy, competition, and poor communication. Imbalance in power relationships may be a cause of conflict between individuals. Power is manifested as: expertise, control over resources, personal links, and communication. In a high/low power situation conflicts arise very easily unless measures are taken to control the situation.

6.0 PROGRESS OF CONFLICTS

A conflict situation progresses from having differences over some matter, emotional involvement, adds-ons, and resolution of the conflict. Conflicts have secondary effects that eventually weaken the group or the society.

7.0 RESPONSIBILITY FOR CONFLICTS

Both parties to a conflict bear responsibility for the bad turn of events. The degree of culpability varies. Conflict can be lessened or can be managed positively; it can not be avoided. It is therefore necessary to learn how to manage conflicts.

8.0 CONFLICT: DANGER AND OPPORTUNITY

Conflict may be positive if it is managed well and the group learns from it emerging stronger. It may be negative and end with the break-up of the group. Any conflict situation should be a school. You learn from it to deal better with future conflicts. You should learn to move from conflict to creative solutions

9.0 CONFLICTS: AVOIDANCE, ENGAGEMENT, PREVENTION

It is often best to avoid a conflict. When it occurs then you have to be engaged in its solution. Conflicts can be prevented primarily by avoiding them and taking measures to prevent their growth if they are imminent. Avoidance is not cowardice. It is strength. It means taking the higher road.

10.0 PRINCIPLES OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION

There are principles that must be followed in conflict resolution. Stick to and do not compromise basic principles. Contain the conflict; do not allow it to go to extremes. Avoid emotions. Exercise self-restraint. Do not quarrel, accuse, or abuse; this will increase the conflict. Control your anger; its expression does not help conflict resolution. Anger is a secondary emotion with underlying fear. Any conflict must not be allowed to be permanent. Initiate or respond to reconciliation. The one who initiates reconciliation is the better one of the two. Initiate and maintain dialog. Look for options: change yourself, try to change others, change conditions of the conflict

11.0 FACTORS OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION

Resolution of a conflict is affected by the size of the problem, how far the problem is personalized, hidden agendas and concerns, and attitude to a positive resolution.

12.0 STAGES OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION PROCESS

The conflict resolution process proceeds in stages: identifying symptoms of the conflict, identifying causes, identifying solution methods, and implementation of the ideal solution method.

13.0 METHODS OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION

Conflict management is an important function of group maintenance. Among the methods used in conflict resolution: avoidance, accommodation, smoothing, bargaining, collaboration, authoritarian settlement, third party arbitration/mediation. Start by identifying the sources of conflict (aggressive personalities, conflicting roles, differences in values, objectives, and perceptions, unsatisfactory communication, poor leadership, seeking individual and not team recognition and credit); next identify consequences of conflict, negative and positive; Use conflict-resolution techniques to resolve the conflict. If you are engaged as a third party to resolve a conflict proceed as follows: identify the need to intervene, decide to intervene, negotiate your role, assess the conflict, design intervention method (consultation, arbitration, training, problem solving), and select intervention tactic.

ŠProfessor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. November, 2008