Conflict and Interpersonal Communication
In this lesson, you'll learn what interpersonal conflict is and the Relationship Conflict and Management: Definition & Resolution Strategies. Conflict in Interpersonal Relationships Conflict. It could happen with a friend, romantic partner, co-worker, or complete stranger. There are many researchers out. Dealing with interpersonal relationships is a complex subject that is often given inadequate attention by communities. Each individual in a group has a particular .
Interpersonal Conflict and Effective Communication
Someone in a collectivistic culture may be more likely to engage in avoiding or accommodating in order not to embarrass or anger the person confronting them other-face concern or out of concern that their reaction could reflect negatively on their family or cultural group other-face concern. While these distinctions are useful for categorizing large-scale cultural patterns, it is important not to essentialize or arbitrarily group countries together, because there are measurable differences within cultures.
Culture always adds layers of complexity to any communication phenomenon, but experiencing and learning from other cultures also enriches our lives and makes us more competent communicators. Handling Conflict Better Conflict is inevitable and it is not inherently negative. A key part of developing interpersonal communication competence involves being able to effectively manage the conflict you will encounter in all your relationships. One key part of handling conflict better is to notice patterns of conflict in specific relationships and to generally have an idea of what causes you to react negatively and what your reactions usually are.
Identifying Conflict Patterns Much of the research on conflict patterns has been done on couples in romantic relationships, but the concepts and findings are applicable to other relationships.
Managing Conflict in Interpersonal Relationship at Workplace
Comments do not have to be meant as criticism to be perceived as such. Gary, however, may take the comment personally and respond negatively back to his mom, starting a conflict that will last for the rest of his visit. Demands also frequently trigger conflict, especially if the demand is viewed as unfair or irrelevant. Tone of voice and context are important factors here. As we discussed earlier, demands are sometimes met with withdrawal rather than a verbal response. If you are doing the demanding, remember a higher level of information exchange may make your demand clearer or more reasonable to the other person.
If you are being demanded of, responding calmly and expressing your thoughts and feelings are likely more effective than withdrawing, which may escalate the conflict.
Cumulative annoyance is a building of frustration or anger that occurs over time, eventually resulting in a conflict interaction.
Interpersonal relationships and conflict resolution
For example, your friend shows up late to drive you to class three times in a row. Criticism and demands can also play into cumulative annoyance. We have all probably let critical or demanding comments slide, but if they continue, it becomes difficult to hold back, and most of us have a breaking point. The problem here is that all the other incidents come back to your mind as you confront the other person, which usually intensifies the conflict.
A good strategy for managing cumulative annoyance is to monitor your level of annoyance and occasionally let some steam out of the pressure cooker by processing through your frustration with a third party or directly addressing what is bothering you with the source.
No one likes the feeling of rejection. Vulnerability is a component of any close relationship. When we care about someone, we verbally or nonverbally communicate. We may tell our best friend that we miss them, or plan a home-cooked meal for our partner who is working late.
The vulnerability that underlies these actions comes from the possibility that our relational partner will not notice or appreciate them. When someone feels exposed or rejected, they often respond with anger to mask their hurt, which ignites a conflict. Managing feelings of rejection is difficult because it is so personal, but controlling the impulse to assume that your relational partner is rejecting you, and engaging in communication rather than reflexive reaction, can help put things in perspective.
Interpersonal conflict may take the form of serial arguingwhich is a repeated pattern of disagreement over an issue. Serial arguments do not necessarily indicate negative or troubled relationships, but any kind of patterned conflict is worth paying attention to. There are three patterns that occur with serial arguing: The pattern may continue if the other person repeats their response to your reminder.
A predictable pattern of complaint like this leads participants to view the conflict as irresolvable. The second pattern within serial arguments is mutual hostility, which occurs when the frustration of repeated conflict leads to negative emotions and increases the likelihood of verbal aggression.
Again, a predictable pattern of hostility makes the conflict seem irresolvable and may lead to relationship deterioration.
Whereas the first two patterns entail an increase in pressure on the participants in the conflict, the third pattern offers some relief. If people in an interpersonal conflict offer verbal assurances of their commitment to the relationship, then the problems associated with the other two patterns of serial arguing may be ameliorated. Even though the conflict may not be solved in the interaction, the verbal assurances of commitment imply that there is a willingness to work on solving the conflict in the future, which provides a sense of stability that can benefit the relationship.
There are some negative, but common, conflict reactions we can monitor and try to avoid, which may also help prevent serial arguing. Two common conflict pitfalls are one-upping and mindreading Gottman, Mindreading is communication in which one person attributes something to the other using generalizations.
Remember concepts like attribution and punctuation in these moments. Nicki may have received bad news and was eager to get support from Sam when she arrived home. Mindreading leads to patterned conflict, because we wrongly presume to know what another person is thinking. Validating the person with whom you are in conflict can be an effective way to deescalate conflict.
As with all the aspects of communication competence we have discussed so far, you cannot expect that everyone you interact with will have the same knowledge of communication that you have after reading this book. But it often only takes one person with conflict management skills to make an interaction more effective. Now we turn to a discussion of negotiation steps and skills as a more structured way to manage conflict.
Negotiation Steps and Skills We negotiate daily. We may negotiate with a professor to make up a missed assignment or with our friends to plan activities for the weekend. Negotiation in interpersonal conflict refers to the process of attempting to change or influence conditions within a relationship.
The negotiation skills discussed next can be adapted to all types of relational contexts, from romantic partners to coworkers. The stages of negotiating are prenegotiation, opening, exploration, bargaining, and settlement Hargie, In the prenegotiation stage, you want to prepare for the encounter.
If possible, let the other person know you would like to talk to them, and preview the topic, so they will also have the opportunity to prepare. Can we sit down and talk tomorrow when we both get home from class? In that case, you can still prepare, but make sure you allot time for the other person to digest and respond. During this stage you also want to figure out your goals for the interaction by reviewing your instrumental, relational, and self-presentation goals.
Is getting something done, preserving the relationship, or presenting yourself in a certain way the most important? For example, you may highly rank the instrumental goal of having a clean house, or the relational goal of having pleasant interactions with your roommate, or the self-presentation goal of appearing nice and cooperative.
Whether your roommate is your best friend from high school or a stranger the school matched you up with could determine the importance of your relational and self-presentation goals. At this point, your goal analysis may lead you away from negotiation—remember, as we discussed earlier, avoiding can be an appropriate and effective conflict management strategy.
If you decide to proceed with the negotiation, you will want to determine your ideal outcome and your bottom line, or the point at which you decide to break off negotiation. In the opening stage of the negotiation, you want to set the tone for the interaction because the other person will be likely to reciprocate. Generally, it is good to be cooperative and pleasant, which can help open the door for collaboration.
There should be a high level of information exchange in the exploration stage. The overarching goal in this stage is to get a panoramic view of the conflict by sharing your perspective and listening to the other person.
In this stage, you will likely learn how the other person is punctuating the conflict. Although you may have been mulling over the mess for a few days, your roommate may just now be aware of the conflict. The information that you gather here may clarify the situation enough to end the conflict and cease negotiation. If negotiation continues, the information will be key as you move into the bargaining stage.
The bargaining stage is where you make proposals and concessions. Try to put yourself into the shoes of the other person. See the world through their eyes. Empathy is an important listening technique which gives the other feedback that he or she is being heard. There are two forms of empathy. Thought Empathy gives the message that you understand what the other is trying to say. You can do this in conversation by paraphrasing the words of the other person.
Ask gentle, probing questions about what the other person is thinking and feeling. Encourage the other to talk fully about what is on his or her mind. Take responsibility for your own thoughts rather than attributing motives to the other person.
This decreases the chance that the other person will become defensive. Find positive things to say about the other person, even if the other is angry with you. Show a respectful attitude. I admire your strength and your caring attitude. Have a discussion to understand both sides of the problem. The goal at this initial stage is to say what you want and to listen to what the other person wants.
Define the things that you both agree on, as well as the ideas that have caused the disagreement. This is the brainstorming phase. Drawing on the points that you both agree on and your shared goals, generate a list of as many ideas as you can for solving the problem, regardless of how feasible they might be.
Aim toward quantity of ideas rather than quality during this phase, and let creativity be your guide. Evaluate These Alternative Solutions. Now go through the list of alternative solutions to the problem, one by one. Consider the pros and cons of the remaining solutions until the list is narrowed down to one or two of the best ways of handling the problem.
Interpersonal relationships and conflict resolution - Fellowship for Intentional Community
It is important for each person to be honest in this phase. The solutions might not be ideal for either person and may involve compromise. Decide on the Best Solution. Select the solution that seems mutually acceptable, even if it is not perfect for either party. As long as it seems fair and there is a mutual commitment to work with the decision, the conflict has a chance for resolution. It is important to agree on the details of what each party must do, who is responsible for implementing various parts of the agreement, and what to do in case the agreement starts to break down.Interpersonal conflict
Continue to Evaluate the Solution. Conflict resolutions should be seen as works in progress. Although she has opinions, she is feeling alienated by the whole depersonalization of the issues. At the break she leaves. One of the best ways for style angst to be worked out in a meeting is for the individuals to be allowed to state what they are feeling and what they want.
For example, in the problem with Task-Oriented Mary, she could have asked the group for help by saying something like: Can we move to the proposal stage soon, or may I be excused until you finish your discussion?
Some larger groups use a system of colored cards where different colors represent different types of input. In extreme cases, task oriented people will have difficulty asking for what they want and the facilitator needs to watch for angst from the task oriented people and then intervene on their behalf.
Recognizing your personality style and the needs and limitations it places you under is a key step in understanding how to work with a group. Both task and process styles have important contributions to make and you have to be patient and recognize the value of styles that are different from yours. You will be annoyed with your style opposite sometimes, so use that annoyance constructively to make changes in the process that benefit the group.
If you are a task oriented person, you can help the group get organized and working on results. Your skills at seeing the bottom line can help the group when you summarize information, add facts, or urge the group towards concrete proposals.
If you are a process oriented person you offer the skills of building relationships and understandings so that proposals can be made that get accepted and implemented with a high degree of spirit. You can work to keep the morale of the group high by offering personal support and acknowledgment of peoples work. Groups often go through cycles where task or process gets emphasis in the groups activities.
There may be a period where you make many decisions, hard and fast, and work with lots of information, get lots of details accomplished and then get somewhat paralyzed by what may seem to be a minor side issue.
The group then focuses on process work, working through the issue, hearing emotional side issues, talking with each other and building up communication bridges and processes. Over time, most experienced and successful groups learn to balance the task and process parts of their activities so each works to complement the other.
- 6.2 Conflict and Interpersonal Communication
As meeting skills grow in the group, the facilitator can capture emotional issues that get raised as part of a task agenda and skillfully roll them into the task processing so the end result is the optimum for everyone. When you can balance both the task wing and the process wing so they work together, your group will fly as high as it can go.
One technique that can bring this out is to do a feeling circle, in which everyone in the group expresses how they are feeling. For this to work some ground rules are needed: Only one person speaks at a time around the circle. No defensive reactions are allowed in the circle. The goals of the feelings circle should be written down and placed where everyone can see them.
I am here to learn about my neighbors and myself. I will listen carefully with an open heart to what you have to say about me. I will speak for myself only, and speak the truth as I see it. The way feeling circles work is for members to simply state whatever is on their mind. For example, a member might say: For this kind of sharing to work it is important that the circle not be interrupted by defensive answers, but that each person is allowed to speak without interruption.
Participants have to be free to express feelings without immediate reaction. If this becomes part of the meeting routine, even very shy individuals may come to express themselves. Sometimes feeling circles can be focused on a specific issue.
They can be a way of dealing with a particular issue, a conflict between individuals, an individual behavior, or even as a healing source for someone who loses a family member or has some other personal crisis. Or they can be general in nature, focusing on getting to know one anothers histories by responding to set questions such as: A story from my childhood, people that are important to me, lessons in life I have learned and who taught them, the most important thing I ever did, the most dangerous moment in my life.
These kinds of sharing circles allow people to learn about each other in new ways. Active listening Active listening is a skill which enhances communication. In active listening you listen carefully, then paraphrase back what you heard, with the goal of supporting and drawing out the feelings of the speaker.
When this is done well it validates a persons feelings and encourages him or her to fully communicate. The goal of active listening is to help clarify the feelings and thinking behind the words.
When active listening is applied it creates a supportive bond between the speaker and the listener. Because there is no threat of criticism or judgment, the speaker is encouraged to express feelings honestly.
The important thing about active listening is that it is not intended to change or alter the feelings of the speaker, only to support them in expressing their feelings. When you try and advise or change the message the speaker gives, it forces them to defend themselves, which often causes further denial of the feelings and experiences. When the listener responds by trying to change the speakers way of looking at things, to see the situation from the listeners perspective, the listener is trying to divert the communication down the path to meet their needs, not the speakers.
One of the special difficulties in active listening is when the listener is called on for decisions, judgments or evaluations. Often what the speaker is doing in this situation is try to pass the buck, and disguise or mask the expression of feelings. In active listening it is best to try to identify the emotional context of the question and leave an opening for the speaker to say what is really bothering him.
For example Jim, a teenager doing childcare comes to the meeting looking upset and says: Why did I ever sign up for childcare, this is impossible! An active listening response would be something like: You sound pretty frustrated. Often this encourages the speaker to continue.
Again the listener paraphrases what the speaker has said in order to encourage the dialog. I just walked away I was so mad. I guess I should go back and see if I can work it out. Being in charge is hard sometimes. The listener must look for and respond to feelings. Not all of a message is in the words so non-verbal clues can help the listener be aware of the speakers feelings.
The goal of this type of triangulation is to degrade the person not present. This kind of malicious gossip can occur very easily and spontaneously, you may not even realize what it has done until you analyze why you feel a certain way towards someone, or how you ever got such a wrong notion about someone.
Malicious triangulation is very dysfunctional behavior and is one of the worse things that can happen in a community. Malicious gossip and character assassination undermine relationships in a huge way.
They poison peoples perspectives of each other, fill voids of understanding with misinformation and deceit, and create an atmosphere of distrust, disrespect and paranoia.
Now sometimes, to help your own understanding of people and their conflicts you need to get and share information about people who are not present. This is healthy and normal and there is an easy test to distinguish between what is healthy and helpful and what is unhealthy and destructive.
When the topic of someone who is not present comes up, imagine that the person of whom you are speaking or hearing about is standing behind you.