The iceberg of conflict

According to Cloke and Goldsmith (2011), conflict is like an iceberg. What we see or understand is only a portion of what is really happening:

The iceberg of conflict

The portion that we see on the surface is just the issues. In fact, conflict may have different layers and each of the layers may adds weight and immobility to our arguments when we are in conflict:
  • The difference in personalities between the two parties
  • The emotions of the two parties
  • The difference in interests, needs and desires of the two parties
  • The difference in self-perceptions and self-esteem of the two parties
  • The hidden expectations of the two parties
  • Unresolved issues from the past between the two parties

By exploring the unsurfaced layers of the iceberg, this conflict iceberg model can be used to uncover the root cause of the conflict in order to resolve it properly.

Reference:
Cloke, K. and Goldsmith, J., 2011. Resolving Conflicts at Work: Ten Strategies for Everyone on the Job. 3rd ed. Jossey-Bass

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