Research Highlights Conflict as a Positive Opportunity and Tools to Resolve Conflict

Summary of:

Datar, U., & Paranjape, T. (2020). Conflict resolution: A sustainable approach. Our Heritage, 68(13), 1-12. Retrieved from https://archives.ourheritagejournal.com/index.php/oh/article/view/6277.

Background & Theory

This article explores conflict in light of the Sustainable Development Goals created by the United Nations (UN) in 2015. It examines these categories of conflict, whether conflict is positive or negative, and what tools we are using to address conflict.

Research Questions

The authors seek to answer the following questions:

  1. “Are conflicts positive or negative in the socio-cultural aspects?” 
  2. “Are we using the right tools to work towards the resolution of these conflicts?” 

Methods

The authors address their questions through analyzing what conflict is, what the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) are and how conflict applies to them, and through a questionnaire developed and distributed by the authors to a group. Pertaining to conflict, they discussed the definition of conflict, the 4 main types of conflict (interpersonal, intrapersonal, intergroup, and intragroup), and the scope of conflict (economic, value, or power driven). The 17 SDG’s developed by the UN were categorized into the 3 scopes of conflict listed above, and then evaluated with real-life examples of conflict and how the conflict is being addressed in those categories. The questionnaire the authors distributed asked a group whether they saw conflict as positive or negative.

Results

The results of the questionnaire showed that 42.9% of those asked do consider conflict to be positive. This answered their first research question and noted that while conflict has some negative connotations, it is becoming more widely perceived as positive and having benefits. The evaluation of conflicts in terms of the SDG’s shows that there are conflicts in every area, and that while some areas still need to be addressed, there are many areas being worked on. The conclusion is that some tools we are using are effective, but we may need to evaluate further as a society how to continually resolve conflict, especially in terms of our nations reaching the goals set forth by the UN. The authors conclude that the most necessary tools to resolve conflict are empathy, flexibility, and acceptance at a personal level (i.e., not just as a society but each and every one of us is committed to resolving conflict).

What This Means

  • Conflict can be seen in a positive light and not as a negative problem between people(s), but rather an opportunity to improve the situation(s) at hand.
  • We each need to be responsible for conflict resolution, personally, professionally, and universally.
  • There are many tools to resolve conflict, and it takes a myriad of these tools to resolve conflict based upon the unique circumstances of each situation.
  • We can all contribute to the SDG’s that the UN established and ultimately assist in making the world a better place.

Final Takeaway

For consultants: While knowing the general definitions and scopes of conflict is necessary, keep in mind also that there are a variety of tools to address conflict, and if something isn’t working in handling a particular case, it may be time to try something new. Additionally, do your best to help clients see conflict as an opportunity rather than an always-negative engagement.

For everyone: Try to keep an open mind when involved in conflict, and remember that while it is not always pleasant, it can be a chance for positive change.