The old saying “Where are people, there must be conflict” appears to be a true statement. It is impossible to function as a part of a social group without conflict. First of all it occurs because everyone is different and everyone tries to defend their views or beliefs. In general understanding, conflict is when two individuals as well as two or more groups, have realised that they cannot gratify their needs without changing the attitude of others who are in relationship with them. Usually, people recognise conflict as something stressful and undesirable. However, if conflict is handled properly it could be beneficial.
There are many available ways of approaching to conflict. Because not all conflicts are the same, there is no only one correct approach. Apart from the diversities of approaches to conflict, researchers propose different terminology for the utilised methods. Clock & Goldsmith (2000) suggest that there are only two most common approaches to conflict: collaboration and aggression. Nevertheless, when people are involved in conflict they can use one of the following: avoidance, aggression, accommodation, compromise and collaboration. Other researches complement the list by including withdrawal, competing and negotiation. Using different terminology all of these approaches are recognised as lose-win (passive), win-lose (aggressive) and win-win (assertive). The aggressive and passive approaches to conflict are considered as non-productive and assertive approaches as productive that lead to a peaceful resolution. The result depends not only of methods preferred and used by people during conflict situation, but also how the method has been conducted.
One of approaches classified as not being productive is avoidance. Avoidance is when someone acts to prevent a situation from happening or tries to postpone it. For a very long period of the human history conflict was perceived as something undesirable and non-acceptable. In the past the only correct approach to conflict management was equivalent to avoidance. Even nowadays some people still consider conflict as something that should be eluded. Nevertheless, avoidance is not the right strategy to deal with conflict. Avoiding behaviour as a passive approach does not directly address issues and does not attempt to resolve conflict at all. People using non-assertive / passive approach hide their true opinions and feelings. There is lack of proper communication (Withers & Lewis 2003). Conflict still exists at the same level or problems over a time could be even more tangled, because they are just procrastinating. In addition, when someone tends to leave concerns untouched and others discover this tendency, they could build an assumption that the person do not care about the concerns (Axelrod & Johnson, 2005).
Withdrawal is also recognised as not so productive action. There are many similarities to avoidance that has been discussed above; it is also a passive approach. Some researches classify both of them as synonymous. Withdrawal is when people leave a platform of conflict, they escape from it. Researchers at social science found that men are more liable to use withdrawing than women (DeVito 2008). Withdrawal could bring just a temporary resolution or because withdrawal does not address the problem, the resolution does not come at all. For example, a person who feels anxious due to some issues at work stays at home until the situation become much clear. Withdrawing from the minatory situation does not solve the issues at a workplace, they are just delayed. Over time unresolved concerns could become even harder to overcome them.
According to Ladd (2005) aggression is a natural people’s reaction on a stressful situation. However, aggression is definitively unproductive and rather destructive way of approaching to conflict. Aggressiveness appears as a noisy behaviour: people yell, interrupt…