Type One Conflict: “Conflict that Can Be Mediated”
“I was ruined but twice in my life: once when I lost a law suit – and once when I won.” – Voltaire
The first type or category of conflict is conflict that can be mediated. This is a conflict that is competitive and, while at first, there are often very bad feelings between the parties, it is, at its core, created by two or more parties or individuals wanting the same single thing – so if one party has it, it seems like the other cannot. Through either mediation (that is with the help of a neutral third party) or through negotiation (the two opposing parties are skilled in mediation, so they do not need a third party to guide the mediation) the parties transform the conflict which opens up opportunities for resolving the conflict creatively. Successful mediation leads to growth and to very good relationships with others. In mediation you do have to be careful about power imbalances between the parties; i.e., one party cannot hold something over the other (here is where age, ethnicity, gender, race and other demographic factors can come into play often in a wide range of unexpected ways) and there cannot be a history of serious conflict between the parties.
For example, two teachers, who are similar demographically, are competing to be department chair. They begin to covertly sabotage one another to make themselves appear more favorable to the school administration responsible for selecting one or another of them for the position. They counter this destructive behavior through the process of mediation. The positive feelings towards one another that mediation engenders allows them to realize that the prestige, entitlements and additional pay that come with the position of department head are also included in a grant for which they could both compete equally. Also, the grant would preclude the opportunity to assume the chairmanship. Through mediation they mutually decide to pursue both goals; the department head, and the grant. If after enacting this agreement, these parties return to their former, relatively cooperative relationship the conflict can be identified as a Type One conflict – a conflict that can successfully be mediated.
To summarize: a conflict engendered by the parties’ wanting the same thing but which can be successfully mediated is a Type One conflict in my typology.