Interpersonal Conflict - Seattle Central College

Interpersonal Conflict
Conflict is a part of most every interpersonal relationship. Managing
conflict, then, is important if the relationship is to be long-lasting and
rewarding. Learn how to manage conflict in your relationships and then
complete the activity.
Defining Conflict has been defined as "an expressed struggle
Conflict between at least two interdependent parties who perceive
incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from
the other party in achieving their goals"10. Important concepts
in this definition include "expressed struggle," which means
the two sides must communicate about the problem for there
to be conflict. Another important idea is that conflict often
involves perceptions. The two sides may only perceive that
their goals, resources, and interference is incompatible with
each other's.
Common Researchers have identified several problems that typically
Problems in arise in conflict situations6. First, the parties will simply avoid
Conflict the conflict. This can be damaging, because it can lead to
Management greater problems in the future. It is usually best that the
individuals discuss their differences. Second, individuals
involved in conflict may blame the other individual. Often,
individuals go beyond the specific behavior in question and
blame the character of the person. When people use words
such as, "He's such a slob," they are engaging in blaming
the others behavior. A final problem that is often
encountered in conflict management is adopting a win-lose
mentality. Focusing on each individual's goals/outcomes will
help avoid using a win-lose strategy.
Defensive The climate in which conflict is managed is important. Dyads
climate should avoid a defensive climate, which is characterized by
these qualities:
Evaluation: judging and criticizing other group
Control: imposing the will of one group member on
the others.
Strategy: using hidden agendas.
Neutrality: demonstrating indifference and lack of
Superiority: expressing dominance.
Certainty: being rigid in one's willingness to listen to
Source: Interpersonal Communication: Relating to Others
Interpersonal Conflict
Supportive Instead, individuals should foster a supportive climate,
Climate marked by these traits:
Description: presenting ideas or opinions.
Problem orientation: focusing attention on the task.
Spontaneity: communicating openly and honestly.
Empathy: understanding another person's thoughts.
Equality: asking for opinions.
Provisionalism: expressing a willingness to listen to
the ideas of others.
Additional Tips A few final tips11 can help insure that conflict is successfully
Conflict Can Be Constructive. Recognize that conflict
can strengthen your relationships.
Be Prepared. Plan how you will communicate about
conflict in order to create a supportive climate.
Be Involved. Do not withdraw from the conflict or
avoid conflict situations.
Withhold Quick Retorts. Be careful about what you
say and how you say it.
Review. Summarize what you have discussed and
make plans to continue the discussion if time permits
immediate resolution.
Source: Interpersonal Communication: Relating to Others