Interpersonal conflict occurs when two or more individuals who must work together fail to share the same views, and have different interests or goals. Interpersonal conflict can be defined by the focus and source of the conflict.
People-Focused vs. Issue-Focused
People-focused conflicts are based on emotions and feelings, and are more of a personal attack. Issue-focused conflicts are centered on issues and events, and are more representative of a calm negotiation.
A common source of interpersonal conflict is personal differences, because every person brings a unique (and often incompatible) set of values, perceptions and expectations to the table.
Another source of interpersonal conflict is informational deficiencies. Communications are not always received, may be misinterpreted or different conclusions may be drawn based on past experiences.
Role incompatibility may be a cause of interpersonal conflict because of differences between the goals and responsibilities assigned to an individual and what the individual would rather be doing.
A stressful environment is another source of interpersonal conflict. Uncertainty of future events and scarcity of resources, such as food or money, can lead to disputes among otherwise friendly individuals.