What is conflict?
Conflict can be defined as the divergence of goals, objectives, standards, attitudes or expectations, aims, methods and behaviour. Whenever two entities are in relationship with one another and their goals diverge, they are in conflict. Conflict is natural whether at home with your children or spouse, at work with your colleagues, in council meetings with your clients, or in situations with owners contravening bylaws or rules. It is impossible for the goals of any two persons or entities in a relationship with one another to remain convergent at all times.
A conflict may exist but not surface as a dispute.
What is a dispute?
A dispute is manifest conflict. That is, conflict that is actually expressed by the parties. That communication can be a clenched fist, a finger at a yellow caution signal light, an angry exchange, a demand letter or a writ of summons. More than two parties can be involved in disputes. Generally disputes will narrow conflict and focus on one or two issues. The goals of the parties might diverge in many ways, but the dispute will focus on only certain aspects of the divergence. A dispute often is symbolic of hidden, denied or unspoken conflict. A dispute between two managing agents working within the same office often will occur because the two have not been able to express concerns. This type of underlying conflict is usually broader and more complex, hence harder to define and difficult to frame in terms of formal rights and obligations.
It is much easier to deal with disputes that are external. Those types of disputes are typically narrower, simpler, easier to define and less difficult to frame in terms of rights and obligations.
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