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Navigating Disputes Between Newcomers and Sponsors: Understanding and Overcoming Conflict

What is Conflict?

Conflict is a dispute between individuals or groups resulting from differences in thought processes, attitudes, understanding, interests, demands, needs, or perceptions.

Sources of Conflict

By identifying the sources of conflict and implementing problem-solving strategies, both parties can work toward resolution and mutual understanding.

The sources of conflict include:


Newcomers and sponsors may interpret information differently, leading to misunderstandings and frustrations. To avoid this, sponsors and settlement workers should agree on what information newcomers need. This information includes how much help the sponsor group can give, what support is available, and who's responsible for what. Agreeing on these points can help sponsors reduce misunderstandings and set realistic expectations for newcomers.

Problem-Solving Ideas:

  • Establish a systematic process for collecting and sharing accurate information through regular communication.
  • Maintain clear communication channels to prevent misunderstandings and foster trust.
  • Proactively address discrepancies and verify the validity of the information.
  • Assist newcomers in evaluating the validity of the information they receive.


Conflicts can arise due to differences in needs and interests. These can be categorized into three types:

  • Substantive interests: including tangible resources like time, money, and possessions. Misunderstandings about the distribution and value of these resources can arise.
  • Psychological interests: neglecting emotional needs such as respect, voice, and cultural identity can harm trust and relationships.
  • Procedural interests: involving fairness, transparency, and consultation in decision-making processes. Ignoring these concerns can hinder conflict resolution efforts.

Problem-Solving Ideas:

  • Explore underlying interests rather than fixating on positions.
  • Recognize and prioritize newcomers' psychological needs, including respect and cultural preservation.
  • Ensure procedural fairness by emphasizing transparency and consultation.
  • Aim for integrated solutions that consider the needs of all parties involved.


Power dynamics play a significant role in the relationship between newcomers and sponsors. This means that sometimes, one side has more power than the other. Here are some reasons why this might happen:

  • Access to resources: newcomers and sponsors may not have equal access to resources like money, time, and support.
  • Structural inequalities: society often creates unfair power imbalances based on things like class, race, gender, and religion.
  • Position in hierarchies: your position in a group or family can affect how much power you have. People with more authority might have more say in decisions, affecting how newcomers and sponsors work together.
  • Personality traits: charisma or humour can affect how people see each other's authority. These traits shape how newcomers and sponsors interact and solve problems.
  • Language proficiency: sponsors who speak the dominant language well can communicate better. Newcomers who struggle with the language might feel like they have less power.
  • Cultural understanding: understanding the host country's culture helps sponsors better relate to newcomers. It can create a sense of authority and trust, making the relationship smoother.

Problem-Solving Ideas:

  • Recognize and address power imbalances sensitively.
  • Create a safe space where all parties feel valued and respected.
  • Promote open communication, mutual respect, and empathy.
  • Prioritize the safety and well-being of all parties involved.
  • Assess and consider the unique dynamics of each situation.


Value conflicts can happen when people disagree about what's important in life. These differences can come from various sources, such as:

  • Differing priorities: people might care about family, work, religion, or freedom. Conflicts happen when these values clash, like when one person wants to spend time with family but another wants to focus on their career.
  • Cultural differences: norms and values differ between cultures. What's okay in one culture might not be in another. These differences can lead to misunderstandings, especially about things like gender roles or how to handle conflicts.
  • Worldviews and beliefs: people have strong beliefs that affect how they see things. Conflicts can arise when these beliefs clash.
  • Social and moral values: disagreements can also happen because of different ideas about what's right or wrong in society. People may have different opinions on fairness, equality, the environment, or human rights.

Problem-Solving Ideas:

  • Identify key values that are shared and different.
  • Focus on underlying interests, not just values.
  • Respect diverse perspectives in different areas.
  • Find a common goal or value.


Relationship conflicts can happen when people don't communicate well, misunderstand each other, rely on stereotypes, or have strong feelings. These issues can make it hard to solve problems and move forward.

Problem-Solving Ideas:

  • Create a safe and supportive environment for expressing emotions.
  • Encourage open dialogue and foster empathy and understanding.
  • Clarify perceptions through active listening and honest dialogue.
  • Improve communication quality and quantity.
  • Address sources of tension constructively and non-judgmentally.
  • Clarify different needs and priorities.

Navigating conflicts between newcomers and sponsors requires sensitivity, understanding, and active involvement. By recognizing and dealing with various sources of conflict, both parties can move toward resolution and harmony. Sponsors should prepare by learning about newcomers' cultures and improving communication skills to promote positive relationships and successful integration. This proactive approach helps prevent conflicts, fosters trust and builds inclusive communities.


Presented by: Rola Mustafa, Accredited mediator and trainer for The Neighborhood Group (TNG) Community Services


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