Two Types of Interpersonal Conflict


At workplace, people with different goals, ideas, and cultural and ethnic background provide the best breeding environment for conflicts of all sorts. There are two broad types of conflict–affective and cognitive.

Affective — focus on individual, is emotional, personal. It is based on feelings of anger, mistrust, dislike, fear, resentment, etc. Filled with sarcasm, personal criticism, trash-talk, puts-downs and even dirty words, it is usually destructive, particularly if it is allowed to escalate, easily precipitating into something out of control. We often see the eruption of this type of conflict in a family setting, typically between a parent and a headstrong teenager.

Cognitive — focus on issue, substantive, exclusively issue-related topic. Rational and not emotional. It occurs when people disagree over such things as procedures, opinions, and reasoning process. It can be constructive when it is dealt with correctly. e.g. “I think this would not be feasible since we only have one week before deadline.”

Sometimes, a conflict starts as cognitive, but slips into affective when people start focus on person instead of issues.
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P.S. my daughter does not have school today, so I take today off.

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