What Contributes to Conflict?

Welcome to Part 3 of

Ensuring Life Harmony

where you continue to enhance your skills to productively resolve conflict with others.


In Part 2 you began your exploration into the seeds of conflict by looking at recent situations you have encountered. 

In Part 3 your discovery will continue as you further observe what contributes to conflict.


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Have you ever been involved in unwanted or unanticipated conflict –

a situation that abruptly blew out of proportion, and you weren’t even sure how it happened?


To what degree does our behavior - what you say and do - cause or escalate a conflict with others?


And what can we do to prevent, or at least minimize, this from happening?


Let’s take a look at what often contributes to conflict.

Bob and Sheryl are having a tiff at work. 

Observe what happens between them, and then answer the questions that follow.

Bob says: “Why aren’t those estimates ready for the budget report yet?  I told you yesterday that I needed them by 2:00.  Thanks to you, I’ll be here half the night getting this ready.”

Sheryl responds: “This place doesn’t revolve around you, you know.  I had customers to tend to.  Without them, you wouldn’t have a budget to worry about."

Bob retorts: “That may be, but you could have at least had the decency to let me know you were going to be late.”

Sheryl snaps: “If you were ever available, I would have told you what was happening.”


In conflict, everyone has their side of the story, and the story includes the same types of characters we find in fictional stories whether in books, television, theater, or the movies.

In conflict situations, there are three types of characters: 

1. the controlling villain

2. the helpless victim, and

3. the righteous hero.


When we feel attacked by someone, we usually take on the role of the victim - innocent of the accusations laid against us. 

We then shift to playing either the hero, and stand up to our attacker.  

Or, if not careful in managing our emotions, especially our darker ones, we can slip into the role of the villain and attack the other person. 


Playing any of these roles limits our ability to understand the real problem at the heart of the conflict.  

It also traps us into an ongoing drama of confrontation that has little to do with reality.  

However, once we become aware of these roles and how easily we take them on, we can then choose a more positive approach that does not include playing a part.  


When we choose not to play the victim, hero, or villain and become objectively curious, we can appreciate what the other person feels.   

Curiosity leads to asking questions, listening for responses, hearing what’s really going on, and appreciating why the other person feels the way they do.  

Further, when the other person feels heard instead of attacked, they become more willing to hear our side of the story.   

Certainly conflict can be harmful in many ways, but when we bring true curiosity, respect and compassion to our interactions with others, we build bridges, deepen relationships and productively solve disagreements. 

We move beyond the drama of confrontation and bring about real conflict resolution.


Limiting Beliefs that Create Conflict