As people interact with one another, conflict inevitably develops. People very often encounter conflicts in their day to day life (Kekes, 1993, p.53).
According to Boulding (1963 cited in Chou & Yeh, 2007), conflict is the involved parties’ awareness of differences and discrepancies in ideas, opinions, and ‘incompatible wishes, or irreconcilable desires.’ Conflict arises due to the individuals’ different mental framework and interests. Boulding’s definition, however, is quite striking for this implies that people with ‘irreconcilable desires’ could never reach a reconciliation to their conflict. Clearly, conflict is neither bad nor good, ‘[c]onflict just is’ (Cohen, 2008). On the other hand, conflict can be destructive or constructive depending on the involved party’s reaction or response in dealing with and managing conflict.
While some conflicts can be resolved, there are others that cannot. The person’s individuality and his or her response to conflict management are two main reasons why not all conflicts can be resolved. Firstly, the individuals’ unique personality -- which includes, but not limited to, values, emotional makeup, and interests -- is a factor why conflict is difficult or cannot be resolved. According to Kekes (1993, p.55), the incompatibility of values is due to the intrinsic qualities of values. Committed political activism and solitude, for instance, are totally incompatible. The activists’ and the apolitical individuals’ ‘irreconcilable desires’ make negotiation far from possible.
Secondly, the individuals’ different perspectives and responses toward conflict management affect the outcome of conflict resolution or non-resolution. Conflict management is defined as what people -- involved in the conflict -- intend to, and actually, do in order to solve or reduce such conflict (Chou & Yeh, 2007). For instance, people who prefer problem-solving or collaboration