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Interpersonal & Intrapersonal Conflict

author image Alia Butler
Alia Butler holds a Master of Social Work from Washington University, St. Louis, concentrating in mental health, and a Master of Arts in social-organizational psychology from Columbia University. Currently, Butler is a freelance writer, penning articles focusing on mental health, healthy living and issues surrounding work-life balance. She is the principle/owner of ALIA Living, LLC, providing residential interior design services, professional organizing and life coaching.
Interpersonal & Intrapersonal Conflict
A woman contemplating the urge to buy a cake in a pastry case. Photo Credit: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

There are several different types of conflict, including interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts, but with any type of conflict there is opportunity for growth and development, if handled correctly. Every one deals with conflict on a regular basis. However, it is your conflict resolution skills that enable you to gain a deeper understanding of yourself and build more trusting relationships, reports Help Guide.

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Lewicki, Barry, and Saunders, writing in "Essentials of Negotiation," report that conflict results from an opposition or disagreement. Conflict comes about when there is an interdependence, between people or your own thoughts, and the goals that need to be achieved cannot both happen.

Interpersonal Conflict

In interpersonal conflict, you are in conflict with other individuals. This is considered a major level of conflict and can occur between co-workers, siblings, spouses, roommates and neighbors, reports Lewicki, Barry, and Saunders, writing in "Essentials of Negotiation." This is the form of conflict most people have in mind when they think about being in conflict.

Intrapersonal Conflict

According to Lewicki, Barry, and Saunders, intrapersonal conflict is also called intrapsychic conflict. It occurs within you. This conflict can develop out of your own thoughts, ideas, emotions, values and predispositions, reports Lewicki, Barry, and Saunders. Intrapersonal conflict occurs when you internally argue with yourself about something, such as when you want a new pair of shoes but you know you should not spend the money on them.


These types of conflicts are important because we encounter them on a daily basis and have to negotiate through them. You may think of conflict as negative, but both interpersonal and intrapersonal conflict can have benefits. Healthy conflict provides you with the skills to develop better relationships, gain an understanding of yourself, increase your resolution skills and avoid negative and damaging reactions. Intrapersonal conflict can be disruptive and stressful if you do not understand your own needs and desires, reports Help Guide. Therefore, it is important to understand your deep emotions and interests and stay in touch with yourself, suggests Help Guide. This deeper understanding of yourself will give you a better basis for negotiating through interpersonal conflicts, allowing you to develop better, more trusting relationships, reports Help Guide.


There are ways you can improve your chances of positive conflict resolutions, whether it be intrapersonal conflict or interpersonal conflict. The Help Guide suggests tips to help you increase your chance of healthy conflict resolutions. Managing your overall stress is important to help deal with conflicts. When you are experiencing too much stress, you are at higher risk of succumbing to the emotions drawn out in conflict. It is also important to be aware of your own emotions and keep them under control so that you can focus on the facts. Incorporating humor will enable you to communicated more information that may be hard to talk about, and it will help put things into perspective.

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