Definition of Conflict Theory

What is the definition of conflict theory?  It's when two or more people struggle with differences over goals, values, ideas, motives or resources.  Conflict can be either a good thing or a bad thing depending on the results.

Conflict can have a negative effect when it is unresolved. 

It could lead to an uncomfortable tension among the people which leads to a drop in work motivation and productivity as well as low morale. 

If the disagreement continues, the success of the business, team or group can suffer.

The benefits of positive conflict can encourage competition among workers or team members. 

People will be more creative in their thinking and find solutions to various problems they may come across.

Preventing negative conflict and encouraging positive conflict is the answer, based on the conflict theory, to many problems in the work, team or home environment.

Here are some suggestions for team goal setting to help prevent any conflict that has a negative effect:

Conflict Theory


  • Listen and be open minded to other people's ideas.  They might have a solution to a problem that you or the team is facing.  If you disagree, then give the person constructive criticism as to why their idea won't work.


  • Don't prejudge team members or leaders of the group.  These people are just as capable as you to find solutions to problems.  Treat them with respect and they will respect you. 


  • Keep language under control.  Offensive and demeaning language can turn people off.


According to the conflict theory, you can't always avoid conflict.  There might be a conflict in personality or beliefs that affect how you work with others. 

There are a few different ways to handle conflict with other team members, coworkers, supervisors and family members.


  • Be involved in the process.  Intervene when things look like their getting out of hand.


  • Confront the person you have a conflict with.  If you both see there is a problem, then a solution can be found.


  • Work out a compromise when there seems to be no solution.


  • If you can't resolve the conflict, then sometimes it's best to avoid the person as much as possible.


  • If you have a conflict with your supervisor or someone at a higher level than you, then it must be worked out carefully in a professional and private way.  It's best not to challenge their authority.  By working out any issues you will both gain respect for each other.


In addition to the above information, the following articles will help you resolve conflicts you might have with others or even yourself.




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