Identifying the Primary Causes of Conflict

Robert Russell By Robert Russell, 3rd Feb 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Ethics

Human conflict is an old story. It was a major theme explored by the Greek playwrights such as Aeschylus and Euripides. The causes of conflict are many. This article focuses on some of the most prominent sources of conflict.


Conflict easily ensues when a boss, colleague or family member is inconsiderate in remarks and behavior. This may cause the other person to feel offended and angry. Inconsiderate behavior may involve belittling, shaming, or embarrassing a family member or co-worker. Inconsiderate behavior may also take a non-verbal form; heavy sighs and rolling your eyes can also dismiss or belittle someone's contribution, suggestion or point of view. Don't be surprised if your rude behavior makes someone angry.


Working or living together requires being attentive to the ideas and needs of others. An inflexible attitude is one that refuses to acknowledge the value of other points of view. An inflexible person usually thinks that his way is the only way. This can lead to conflict on both sides. An inflexible husband, for example, gets angry with his wife when she refuses to do something his way. The wife, in turn, becomes justifiably angry by the husband's anger. The inflexible person usually finds it difficult to admit mistakes.


The personality differences between people may also be a source of conflict. Some people are outgoing and talkative while other people are more quiet and introspective. In a work situation, one worker may address a problem with an intuitive and emotional approach while his colleague may insist on a more analytical and logical approach. Different ways of doing things can easily lead to conflict. Another potential source or cause of conflict emerges from jealousies that crop up because of the personality difference The quiet person may envy the more gregarious one because she attracts more attention.

Stress and Tension

In many cases of conflict the source of the conflict does not reside in the conflict itself. A person who is tense and under stress -- because of a family situation, money problems, disappointed expectations -- may be easily provoked. It doesn't take much to set him off and the conflict provides him with a forum for releasing his anger. This doesn't justify the anger, but it helps to acknowledge the complicated causes of conflict. If someone flies off the handle for no apparent reason, the anger may be a result of something else in his life unrelated to you.

Cultural Differences

People's cultural backgrounds help shape them as people, provide them with values and a world view, and lead to certain assumptions and expectations about how people should interact with one another. Gender, ethnicity, race and religious differences, as well as generational differences, may all be a source of potential conflict. Ideally, people are educated to understand and respect cultural differences and diversity, but the reality is that intolerance and suspicion of those who are different is a common occurrence.


Conflict Management, Conflict Of Interests, Conflict Resolution, Conflicts At Work, Conflicts In Business, Conflicts In The Office

Meet the author

author avatar Robert Russell
I play guitar professionally in a Cajun/zydeco band named Creole Stomp. We are a nationally touring band that have been together ten years. I also have a PhD in philosophy.

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author avatar ittech
29th Feb 2012 (#)

Great share, thank you.

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