When I ask this question in my Conflict Response trainings, most people immediately respond with the number “2.” However, upon reflection we discover it is possible to have a conflict with oneself. Anyone who has tried to maintain a diet plan or an exercise plan understands what it is like to stand in front of an open refrigerator debating with oneself over having that last piece of pie. Does this sound familiar – has this happened to you?
In some cases, it isn’t even necessary to have another person at all to have a conflict. It’s even possible to have a conflict with an inanimate object. Using a very informal survey process in most of my trainings, I can say it is a tie between the printer and the copier being the number one cause of office equipment conflict. Why is it always when a deadline looms these tools act up?
It becomes a conflict when one person is upset. At that moment in time, that person must decide whether to “let it go” (i.e. it is not worth my time or energy), or to engage the other person (I can’t just let it go). This upset person “confronts” the other person, but the conflict existed even before the other knew there was anything wrong.
Which raises this question for me: Do all conflicts begin with one person? Could one accurately say, “It always only takes one person to have a conflict?” Let me know your thoughts and opinions on this, and share them with us in the comments below for discussion.