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The word 'conflict' comes from the Latin 'conflictus' which means "fight, struggle" and from 'confligere' which means "to strike, to hit". Other types of disputes different from a conflict can be defined:

  • A crisis - (from the Latin 'crisis') has an emotional and spontaneous aspect and has a duration which is expected short;
  • A dispute - until the seventeenth century, this term had the sense of "quarrelsome";
  • A litigation - based on a question of interpretation of law combined or not with technical aspects;
  • A disagreement - contestation between two or more parties about opinions on respective interests.

A conflict possesses all of the mentioned characteristics above. Identification of conflict's components enables to understand who does what, in which area, and for what purpose. It opens the way for a mechanical work on conflicts and enables to better understand them.


[edit] Invariants of Conflicts

The term conflict must be examined before any further consideration about conflict resolution. Otherwise the concept of conflict can be quickly mistaken with a lively debate, a controversy, or a disagreement of viewpoints that can be actually defined as conflict of values within an academic approach.

[edit] Three Invariants of a Judicial Conflict

It can be noticed that all conflicts that are usually presented to the court system to be adjudicated have a legal component. These conflicts in the legal sense are the result of relations based on technical or emotional aspects. Therefore three invariants of the conflictual dynamic in the judicial system can be observed:

  • 1. Legal aspect
  • 2. Technical aspect
  • 3. Emotional - Affective aspect

The judicial system examines first of all the legal aspects of a dispute, then its technical aspects and finally the emotional aspects. Mediation processes in the reverse way. Therefore there is a wide difference in a matter of practice and required skills.

These three components of a conflict are present in all legal actions. This identification of the three components of a conflict brings us to understand how the various actors responsible for the representation of the parties intervene, the understanding of the conflictual situation and its arbitration or the accompaniment to its resolution.

[edit] The Jurist and the Conflict

Jurists approach the conflict regarding law, contract's elements and the compliance with legislative and official texts.

The lawyer is partial, and takes the side of his client and develops a set of arguments according to the law, then examines the technical aspects. The lawyer embellishes his argumentation with the emotional aspects whose presentation is arranged to be understandable or even just audible for the judge.

[edit] The Expert and the Conflict

The technical elements, if they exceed the skills or knowledge of the legal approach of the judge, are entrusted to an expert who performs an observation (expertise) and makes advocacies for the material compensation. The expert's report might shed light on the situation through its technical aspects and help the judge to make a decision.

In the field of law, the emotional element is a way for the defender to express emotional damages or collapses due to a failure to respect the legal framework. The judge may pronounce a compensation of the emotional damage.

Thus, lawyers, expert, judges or arbitrators jointly pursue the same logical examination of a conflict: by observing first the legal element, then the technical component and possibly by repairing the emotional element.

[edit] The Mediator and the Conflict

The mediator totally proceeds in the reverse way. That's the reason why professional mediators enable people to maintain their freedom of decision-making. Professional mediators are trained for this.

[edit] Overbid and Exponentiality in Conflicts

The conflict grows in an exponentiality shape, by a dynamic of overbid. This is due to the emotional fusion between a material request, experienced as illegitimately rejected, with the emotion coming from the feeling of illegitimacy that has been caused. A gradation follows. For example, a frustration degenerates into anger. Someone felt rejected because of the awkwardness of someone else. Therefore a material request is claimed while this individual still feels frustrated. The claimed request is rejected. A feeling of injustice amplifies the initial frustration. The tone of the request increases, like someone who raises the voice up to shout because the interlocutor seems not to be listening or hearing.

His thoughts become so obsessive that this person screams to cover the entire sound. As the sound volume increases, the request also increases. The example of vocal amplification illustrates a general mechanism. However, anger is not necessarily verbalized and vocalized. Emotion accumulates various events / feelings which distort the original statement of reality.

The material request might seem to the interlocutors disproportionate with the initial material situation, but it is a compensatory logic. The reason is subject to emotional dynamics and explains the increase of the initial request. The conflict might take proportions that might seem unjustified but for the concerned person, this is logical.

[edit] Also to Read

Mediation process

Alternative Dispute Resolution

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