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Chapter 11 Managing conflict

Effective communicators know
It’s impossible to eliminate conflict, there are ways to manage it effectively
expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scare resources, and interference from the other party in achieving their goals
Expressed struggle
all the people involved must know that some disagreement exists
doesn’t have to be verbal
perceived incompatible goals
all conflicts look as if one person’s gain would be another’s loss
as long as they perceive their goals to be mutually exclusive, the conflict is real, unnecessary
perceived scarce resources
conflicts also exist when people believe there isn’t enough of something to go around:affection, money, space, so on.
people in a conflict are dependent upon each other
welfare and satisfaction of one depends on the actions of another
1st steps in resolving conflict is to take attitude that “we’re all in this together”**
conflicts are bound to happen even in the best relationships
conflicts with friends are typical, with an average of one or two disagreements a day
Dysfunctional conflict
the outcomes fall short of what is possible and have a damaging effect on the relationship
functional conflict
participants achieve the best possible outcome, even strengthening the relationship
The success or failure of a conflict will depend on…
The method of resolution the communicators choose
Integration versus polarization
DC- participants regard each other as polar opposites. Themselves as good and the other person as bad.
In dissatisfied relationships, married people see their spouses as more blameworthy than themselves
FC- recognize they’re in the difficult situation together**
Cooperation versus opposition
DC-see each other as opponents and view other’s gain as their loss “If you win, I lose”**
FC- recognizes cooperation may bring about an answer that leaves everyone happy, United Nations
Confirmation versus disconfirmation
FC- ppl may disagree but they are not disagreeable
Agreement versus coercion
DC- participants rely heavily on coercion to get what they want “Do it my way or else”
De-escalation versus escalation
DC- problems seem to grow larger instead of smaller
FC- in the long run the behaviors of the participants solve more problems than they create, facing an issue instead of avoiding it will make life more difficult for a while.
Focusing versus drifting
DC- partners bring in issues having little or nothing to do with the original problem
original issue becomes lost as conflict expands
Drifting is an example of “kitchen sink fighting”**
FC- rule is “one problem at a time”
Third-party dispute resolution
business disputes like clashes between partners, contract disagreements, conflicts among team members
conflicts between members of the same organizatiotn, or organization at odds with an outsider
neutral and unbiased
maybe an arbitrator or a judge
Foresight versus shortsightedness
DF- when partners do not loose sight of original issue
jump into a conflict without thinking about how they can approach the issue most constructively
FC- helps participants pick their battles
“If I keep this up, I’m going to lose a friend-and I don’t want that to happen”
Dysfunctional conflict consequences
1-no one is likely to get what was originally sought
2-threaten the future of a relationship
Functional conflict consequences
1-positive results
2-reward of successfully facing a challenge
3-leave partners feeling better about themselves and each other
feelings clarified, backgrounds are shared, relationship grows
4-provides a safe outlet for the feelings of frustration and aggression
When people nonassertively ignore or stay away from conflict
can be physical (steering clear of a friend) conventional (changing the topic, joking, or denying problem exists)
reflects pessimistic attitude towards conflict**
Accommodation (lose-win)
When we allow others to have their own way rather than asserting our own point of view
Low concern for themselves and high concern for others**
True or False
People from high-context, collectivistic backgrounds are likely to regard avoidance and accommodation as face-saving and noble ways to handle conflict
Silent treatment
acting aloof and nonresponsive when unhappy
“stonewalling” powerful predictor of divorce
True or False
Romantic partners with low levels of commitment use the silent treatment far more than do people who are strongly invested in their relationship
Competition (win-lose)
involves high concern for self and low concern for others
seeks to resolve conflicts “my way”
men and woman use competition to enrich interaction, develop a shared narrative that defines competition as a measure of regard
darkside- breeds aggression**
Passive aggression
when a communicator expresses dissatisfaction in a disguised manner**
Tactics designed to punish another person without direct confrontation, takes its name form the effect such behavior usually has on its target
Direct aggression
a directly aggressive communicator lashes out to attack the source of displeasure
Nine types of direct aggression
Character attacks,
competence attacks
physical appearance attacks,
maledictions (wishing the other bad fortune)
nonverbal emblems (fist shaking, waving arms)
Compromise (negotiated lose-lose)
gives both people at least some of what they want, though both sacrifice part of their goals
as long as everyone is at least somewhat satisfied with an outcome
Collaboration (win-win)
a high degree of concern for both self and others, goal to solve problems “our way”**
Win-win problem solving
find a solution that satisfies the needs of everyone involved
belief that working together can provide a solution**
True or False
It’s an oversimplification to imagine that there is a single “best” way to respond to conflicts
Factors that govern which style to use
Situation-when someone clearly has more power than you, accommodation may be the best approach
The other person- sometimes the other person isn’t interested in (or good at) collaborating
Your goals-when u want to solve a problem,it’s good to be assertive
Conflict is
It’s character is usually determined by the way the people involved interact
True or False
Conflict isn’t just a matter of individual choice
It depends on how the partners interact
Complementary conflict style
Partners use different but mutually reinforcing behaviors
“fight-flight” style is common in many unhappy marriages
one partner-most commonly the wife-addresses the conflict directly, while the other-usually the husband-withdraws
demand withdraw pattern
Symmetrical conflict style
both people use the same tactics
when both partners treat one another with matching hostility
one threat and insult leads to escalatory spiral
Parallel conflict style
which shifts between complementary and symmetrical patterns from one issue to another
Escalatory spiral
both partners treat one another with matching hostility, one threat and insult leads to another
de-escalatory spiral
both partners withdraw from one another instead of facing their problems
vitality and satisfaction ebb, leaving relationship in a shell of its former self
True or False
Both complementary and symmetrical behavior can produce “good” results as well as “bad”
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
1. Criticism- attacks on a person’s character
It’s better to raise complaints about behavior phrased in “I” language
than critical character assaults “you” messages
2. Defensiveness- is a reaction to protect one’s presenting self by denying responsibility and counterattacking (You’re worse about that than I am)
person refuses to listen or acknowledge another’s concern
3. Contempt- belittles and demeans, can also be nonverbally, through dramatic eye rolls or disgusted sighs
4. Stonewalling- one person in a relationship withdraws from the interaction, shutting down dialogue
sends a disconfirming you don’t matter message**
Conflict rituals
when people have been in a relationship for some time, their communication often develops into unacknowledged but very real repeating patterns of interlocking behavior
True or False
Rituals can cause problems, when they become the only way relational partners handle their conflicts
Two powerful variables that affect the way people manage conflict
Gender, conflict style
Boys: order one another around, tell each other, demand

Girls:proposals for action with let’s, ask each other, joint proposal, give reasons for suggestion

Females:more likely to compromise

Males: use more competing and avoiding behaviors

True or False
People may think that there are greater differences in male and female ways of handling conflicts than actually exits
Culture, conflict styles
Individualistic cultures-use competing, assertiveness
Collectivistic cultures-compromising and problem solving, avoid confrontation
True or False
Culture isn’t the only factor that influences the way people think about conflict or how they behave when they disagree
emotional intelligence plays a role
ppl high in emotional intelligence tend to use a collaborating conflict style
while those in low emotional intelligence tend to use an accommodating style
True or False
A person’s self-concept is more powerful than his or her culture in determining conflict style
conflict management
works for couples willing to focus on improving their relationships
Define your needs
1. begin by deciding what you want or need, it’s often necessary to think about a problem alone, or talking to a third person can sometimes help sort out your thoughts
Share your needs with the other person
once you’ve defined your needs, it’s time to share them with your partner.
1. be sure to choose a time and place that is suitable, don’t bring an issue up when your angry
2. use the descriptive “I” language
Ritual sharing
Preliminary, casual conversation, goal is to build rapport and establish common ground, perhaps to pick up information
Listen to the other person’s needs
once your wants and needs are clear, it’s time to find out what the other person wants and needs
Generate possible solutions
Partners try to think of as many ways to satisfy both of their needs as possible. They can do so by brainstorming-inventing as many potential solutions as they can.
seek quantity w/out worrying about quality
prohibit criticism of all ideas
ideas aren’t personal property
True or False
Self-fulfilling prophecies can shape conflict outcomes
Evaluate the possible solutions and choose the best one
Evaluate solutions after they have all been generated
Important to react spontaneously rather than strategically
Implement the solution
Try out the idea selected to see if it does, indeed, satisfy everyone’s needs. Key questions to answer are who does what to whom, and when?
Follow up the solution
as ppl and circumstances change, a particular solution may lose or increase its effectiveness
it’s a good idea to plan a meeting to talk about how things are going
review effects of solution
be honest
True or False
Reviewing the effects of your solution does not mean that something is wrong and must be corrected
Collaborative Conflict management
1. Define your needs
2. Share your needs with the other person
3. Listen to the other person’s needs
4. Generate possible solutions
5. Evaluate the possible solutions and choose the best one.
6. Implement the solution
7. Follow up the solution
Elements of conflict
Expressed struggle
perceived incompatible goals
perceived scarce resources

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