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Ch. 8 – COMM 315

Interpersonal Conflict
an expressed struggle b/w at least two interdependent people who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, or interference int he achievement of their goals
Conflict Elements
1) An expressed struggle
2) Between at least two interdependent people
3) Incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference
4) Achieving a goal
dependent on each other; one person’s actions affect the other person (Interpersonal Conflict Element)
Conflict as a Process
1) Source: Prior Conditions
2) Beginning: Frustration Awareness
3) Middle: Active Conflict
4) End: Resolution
5) Aftermath: Follow-up
Source: Prior Conditions
there are differences in background, experience, culture, attitudes, beliefs, values, opinions, or preferences (Conflict as a Process)
Beginning: Frustration Awareness
one individual becomes aware of differences; thoughts and self-talk about the differences occur; the individual experiences frustration (Conflict as a Process)
Middle: Active Conflict
the conflict es expressed; expression could range from a verbal expression of mild differences to physical violence (Conflict as a Process)
End: Resolution
one or more of the individuals involved seek to manage the conflict; not all conflicts are managed successfully or resolved (Conflict as a Process)
Aftermath: Follow-up
individuals check to determine whether the conflict has been effectively and appropriately managed
Constructive Conflict
conflict that helps build new insights and establishes new patterns in a relationship
Benefits of Conflict
1) Focuses attentionon problems that may have to be solved
2) Clarifies what may need to be changed
3) Focuses attention on what is important to you and your partner
4) Clarifies who you are and what your values are
5) Helps you learn more about your partner
6) Keeps relationships interesting
7) Strengthens relationships by increasing your confidence that you can manage diagreements
Destructive Conflict
conflict that dismantles rather than strengthens relations
Conflict Trigger
common perceived causes of interpersonal conflict
7 Conflict Triggers
1) Criticism
2) Feeling entitled
3) Perceived lack of fairness
4) More perceived costs than rewards
5) Different perspectives
6) Stress and lack of rest
7) Dialectical Tension
Different Perspectives as a Conflict Trigger
1) Power
2) Social Issues
3) Personal flaws
4) Distrust
5) Intimacy
6) Personal distance
Dialectical Tension
tension arising from a person’s need for two things at a time: being separate and connected OR feelings of being open and closed (Conflict Triggers)
Conflict Myths
1) Conflict is always a sign of a poor interpersonal relationship
2) Conflict can always be avoided
3) Conflict always occurs because of misunderstandings
4) Conflict can always be resolved
Conflict Types
1) Pseudoconflict – misunderstandings
2) Simple conflict – different stands on the issues
3) Ego conflict – conflict gets personal
conflict triggered by a lack of understanding and miscommunication; false or fake, missing the meaning in a message (Conflict Types)
Strategies of Pseudoconflict
1) Check your perceptions
2) LIsten between the lines
3) Establish a supportive rather than a defensive climate for conversation
Simple Conflict
conflict that stems from different ideas, definitions, perceptions, or goals (Conflict Types)
Stategies of Simple Conflict
1) Clarify you and your partner’s understandings
2) Keep the discussion focused
3) Look for more than just the intitial solutions
4) Don’t try to tackle too many issues at once
5) Find the kernal of truth in what your partner is saying
6) If tempers begin to flare and conflict is escalating, cool off
Ego Conflict
conflict in which the original issue is ignored as partners attack each other’s self-esteem (Conflict Types
Strategies of Ego Conflict
1) Try to steer the ego conflict back to a simple conflict; focus on issues rather than personalities
2) Make the issue a problem to be solved rather than a battle to be won
3) Write down what you want to say; clarify your point
4) When things get personal, make a vow not to reciprocate; use “I” messages
5) Avoid contempt; caustic and corrosive contemptuous conversation does not provide a satisfying relationship
Feminine Conflict Styles
1) Interact to achieve closeness and interdependence
2) Encourage mutual involvement
3) Attribute crisis to problems in the relationship
4) Respond to conflict by often focusing mainly on the relationship
Masculine Conflict Styles
1) Interact to acheive specific goals; seek autonomy and distance
2) Protect self-interest
3) Attribute crisis to problems external to the relationship
4) Respond to conflict by often focusing on rules and being evasive until a unilateral decision is reached
Interpersonal Power
degree to which a person is able to influence his/her partner
Power Principles
1) Power exists in all relationships
2) Power derives from the ability to meet a person’s needs
3) Both people in a relationship have some power
4) Power is circumstantial
5) Power is negotiated
Dependent Relationship
relationship in which one partner has a greater need for the other to meet his/her needs (Power Principles)
Power Sources
1) Legitimate power
2) Referent power
3) Expert power
4) Reward power
5) Coercive power
Legitimate Power
power that is based on respect for a person’s position (Power Sources)
Referent Power
power that comes from our attraction to another person, or the charisma a person possesses (Power Sources)
Expert Power
power based on a person’s knowledge and experience (Power Sources)
Reward Power
power based on a person’s ability to satisfy our needs (Power Sources)
Coercive Power
power based on the use of sanctions or punishments to influence others (Power Sources)
Compliance Gaining
taking persuasive actions to get others to comply with our goals (Power to Persuade)
Power Negotiation
1) Assess needs
2) Identify power-based conflicts
3) Discuss power issues directly
Conflict Styles
consistent pattern or approach you use to manage disagreement with others
2 Primary Dimensions of Conflict Management Styles
1) Level of concern for others (low or high)
2) Level of concern for self (low or high)
5 Conflict Styles
1) Avoidance
2) Accommodation
3) Competition
4) Compromise
5) Collaboration
conflict management style that involves backing off and trying to side-step conflict; lose-lose approach
Demand-Withdrawal Pattern of Conflict Management
pattern in which one person makes a demand and the other person avoids conflict by changing the subject or walking away (Avoidance)
conflict management style that involves giving in to the demands of others; lose-win situation
conflict management style that stresses winning a conflict at the expense of the other person involved; win-lose philosophy
Threats vs. Warnings
more powerful in changing behavior, an action that can actually be carried out VS. negative prophecy that cannot actually be controlled (Competition)
conflict management style that attempts to find the middle ground in a conflict; lose-win-lose-win situation
conflict management style that uses other-oriented strategies to achieve a positive solution for all involved; often see as the win-win situation
Reduced Nonverbal Cues Online
1) Haste
2) Flaming
3) The Dis-inhibition Effect
typing quickly to something, and the other person perceiving your message differently because of this lack of care in the message (Online)
sending an overly negative online message that personally (Online)
The Dis-Inhibition Effect
the loss of inhibitions when interacting with someone online that leads to the tendency to escalate conflict (Online)
Conflict Management Skills
1) Manage your emotions
2) Manage information
3) Manage goals
4) Manage the problem
dredging up old problems and issues from the past to use against your partner (Conflict Management Skills)
“I” Language
statements that use the word I to express how a speaker is feeling (Manage Information)
“But” Message
statement using the word but that may communicate that whatever you’ve said prior to but is not really true (Manage Information)
a person’s positive perception of himself or herself in interactions with others
3 Types of Difficult Emotions
1) Hard emotions
2) Soft emotions
3) Flat emotions
Hard Emotions
feeling angry and irritated (Difficult Emotions)
Soft Emotions
feeling hurt, sad, and vulnerable (Difficult Emotions)
Flat Emotions
feeling indifferent, bored, or uninterested (Difficult Emotions)
The Struggle Spectrum
1) Mild differences
2) Disagreement
3) Dispute
4) Campaign
5) Litigation
6) Fight
Low Concern for Self; Low Concern for Others
Low Concern for Self; High Concern for Others
Neutral Concern for Self; Neutral Concern for Others
High Concern for Self; Low Concern for Others
High Concern for Self; High Concern for Others
Best Use for Collaboration Style
1) All side of conflict need fresh, new ideas
2) Enhanced commitment to a solution; all involved in shaping the outcome
3) Establish rapport and a positive relational climate
4) All involved in conflict need to be listened to
5) Affirm the value of the interpersonal relationship

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