Our Frame on Relational Conflicts

Let’s take a different perspective on conflict?

Not one that tells the usual story about a victim and a victimizer, but a balanced view including both sides’ perspectives, as two players participating in a shared game:  to get satisfaction of their own needs.

Any relationship is an implicit contract in which both individuals promise to help each other get satisfaction to some of the needs we all have. To support healthier relationships,  we need to help people find new ways to meet their personal needs in ways that will serve them and others in the long term.

From that neutral point of view, is that we offer this definition:

Given that people don’t know how to identify their own needs; how to describe them in neutral terms and how to negotiate with others to receive needs’ satisfaction, thus they have to fight with each other.

Conflict is a learning experience, because:

  • Is a way of interaction with each other by which we attempt to clarify our own needs;
  • We explore the relationship limits, especially those related to how much it provides both parties with needs satisfaction.

What are human needs?

The six identified human needs have different intensity, and they build on each other:




To have pleasure and avoid pain Comfort, security, safety, stability


To experience excitement,To have risks and being able to overcame them. Surprise, challenge, conflict-generation; taking risks


To be valued, to be important,To feel needed by the people we care about Self-respect, self-esteem,pride, importance, achievement, performance, evaluation, discipline, competition,


To feel linked to another person as the only one, or the most valued one. Togetherness,

being connected,

feeling passionate about another,

“being on the same page,” “soul mates.”



To develop self in order to achieve: Self-determination; independence; maturity. Recognition, love, appreciation, emotional support,
Contribution To give to others in need and keep relations nurtured and supported. Appreciation and recognition at a wider scale;

To leave a Legacy.





Conflict creation involves either creating or responding to challenges, and so it is the main tool to get variety in our lives. What kind of variety? Here is the important distinction: it has to be from the kind of variety that makes us grow…in the right direction.

A conflict that challenges our need for love and connection has the risk of making us feel rejected and lonely. Perhaps the challenge is to learn how to process social isolation while reinforcing self-esteem? No one but the person undergoing this challenge can know.

What do we know is that we all need to navigate times when things don’t go as we planned them to be, when expectations are foiled and frustration of basic needs is the main threat. It is here that we need positive conflict strategies!

Positive conflict defines a process involving self-discovery, needs discovery, and reciprocal trade offs, so both parties are satisfied with what they obtain beyond learning how to manage a good, respectful process.

Negative conflict is confrontation between people who don’t know how to express what they need and negotiate satisfiers for their needs. The end result is not learning but only venting caused by needs frustration.

Moreover, is called negative conflict because it has to recur as many times as necessary for both sides to learn what is the other side’s needs and begin offering something to the other to fulfill these needs!

NoraNora Femenia is a well known coach, conflict solver and trainer, and CEO of Creative Conflict Resolutions, Inc. Visit her blog and signup free to be connected to her innovative conflict solutions, positive suggestions and life-changing Conflict Coach sessions, along with blog updates, news, and more!