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  • Karima Muhammad

Functional and Dysfunctional Conflict.

Updated: 7 days ago



Conflict is a clash of ideas and can be functional and dysfunctional. Interpersonal conflict occurs within groups of people; families, co-workers, and employees. When we seem conflicted about decisions we make in life, this is a form of inner conflict; our wants and needs clash.


Functional conflict helps us evoke our problem-solving skills and create a better understanding of our perception of issues. For example, a group with issues communicating how to increase productivity requires better communication techniques between group leaders and team members to improve production. Conflict is this example illustrates a problem and the effect the situation had on the group. The group used critical thinking and problem-solving skills to manage the conflict and developed a mutually agreed-upon communication policy.


Dysfunctional conflict hinders our ability to discern issues that affect communication, performance, and perception and promote othering and alienation within a group, even in a group of two. For example, the group is having financial issues, and some group members think the group should have low expenses; however, other group members feel a budget will solve the problem. Yet another group member wants the group to increase revenue. In this example, there is one problem with at least three issues to consider: Issue number one, how to lower expenses, Issue number two, what budget planning is needed, and finally, Issue number three, how to increase revenue. You may notice that each issue starts as a question. However, the group cannot focus on anything except a financial problem, and no one can agree to a solution. Group discussions result in heated arguments, name-calling, and blame pointing. Ultimately, this group had to hire outside help to facilitate its group meetings and develop a financial issues policy.


Conflict is a clash of ideas; a dispute is a failure to communicate mutual interest. Communication is essential in resolving conflicts albeit, functional or dysfunctional. For more information about mediation and conflict management, subscribe to our mailing list.

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