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People respond to conflicts, perceived threat of one's interests, needs and concerns, in different ways. Among the responses common in times of conflict are affective, alternatively called emotional responses and process (About Conflict, 2010). During a conflict, a person may experience an assortment of subjective feelings that determine how the conflict ensues or is resolved. Tom comes home from school on a Friday afternoon and he is looking forward to spending some time with friends in the neighbourhood. Just when he is leaving the front door, his mother calls from the kitchen and wants him to fetch some groceries. Immediately, Tom feels misunderstood and unfairly treated, because his older brother is idle watching TV. How this conflict is resolved or exacerbated will depend on how Tom manages these feelings (Webne-Behrman, 1998). If he continues to feel angry for being denied a chance to go out, the conflict will only heighten.
Another type of conflict response and or process is cognitive. These constitute the thoughts and ideas that an individual has about the conflict and which are mostly thought of as inner voices/self talked (About Conflict, 2010). Susan is drives to work one morning and finds all parking spots taken. Luckily, there is a car moving out of the parking lot and Susan approaches to take the spot once vacated. But the man in the other car (the one who is leaving), arrogantly stops her from taking the spot because he is coming back in 20 minutes. Susan wonders what makes the man feel entitled to that spot. She tells herself that she deserves that place just like the man and that there is no reason why it should be preserved just for him. That is the cognitive process that Susan may make her choose to pursue her rights thus increasing the conflict. She might however agree that the man's demands are reasonable, thus ending the conflict.
Another type of response to conflicts is physical. Physical responses include stress development, tension, perspiration, tunnel vision, accelerated breathing, nausea, rapid heartbeats etc (About Conflict, 2010). While sitting through a Maths class, Jack throws a paper at the teacher who is writing on the whiteboard. When the teacher turns around, he finds Mary's hand coming down after a yawn and mistakes her as the person who threw the paper and not Jack who is sited right behind Mary. Realizing that she would take the punishment for someone else, she immediately loses her usual calm and poise, and starts sweating, blubbering and stammering as she tries to explain her innocence. These physical responses to the conflict might add to the anger of the teacher who reads it as a sign of guilt.
Behavioral Styles of Conflicts Resolution
A person may adopt a behavioral style of resolving a conflict (About Conflict, 2010). For instance, Tom in the example above might choose to adopt a competing style and thus emphasize on his rights and interests to go out instead of shop for the groceries. He might also opt for an accommodating behavioral style and thus yield his needs to go out so as to obey the mother. He may also opt for a compromising behavioural approach and make some tradeoffs with the mother, such as going out with his friends and then passing by the grocery on his way home. Finally, Tom may opt to be collaborative with the mother and go for the groceries if the mother gives him permission to spend the Saturday afternoon with his friends.
Perceptions in Conflicts and Conflict Resolution
Several factors influence perception and explain how it can impact conflict and its resolution. Such factors include culture, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, age, past experiences, knowledge, impressions etc (About Conflict, 2010). These factors become the perceptual filters that individuals use to screen any conflict they experience (Thomas, 1992). In the example provided above about Susan in the parking lot, if Susan is a German with racial prejudices and the man is black, Susan will react more aggressively, just as she would if she knew the man from their previous office interactions as a male chauvinist.
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