2Conflict Fact of human life Constructive conflict is an essential set of interpersonal skills
3Conflict DefinedConflict varies in intensity. It may seen as a (1) mild difference, (2) disagreement, (3) dispute, (4) campaign, (5) litigation, or (6) fight or warIs an expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from others in achieving their goals
4Effective Conflict Management Is one aspect of interpersonal therapy, a technique for dealing with depressionAn interpersonal approach to conflict management focuses on the communicative exchanges that make up the conflict episodeIntrapersonal Conflict – internal strain that creates a state of ambivalence, conflicting internal dialogue, or lack of resolution in one’s thinking and feeling – accompanies interpersonal conflict
5ApplicationThink of an intrapersonal strain you may be feeling right now, or felt for a while in the past. What is the struggle you feel? Think of a picture or metaphor to describe what you are feeling. What words describe the internal strain? Have you ever lived through an intrapersonal conflict that did not ever become expressed? If you answered yes to this question, ask yourself if you might have expressed the conflict ever so slightly in some way. How might you express the internal conflict nonverbally, or by actions you did not take?
6Family of OriginOur family of origin socializes us into constructive and destructive ways of handling conflict that carry over into how romantic relationships are later handled.
7Parental ConflictConflict between parents predicts the well-being of the childrenConflict between parents tends to both change the mood of household interactions and shift the parents’ attention to the negative behaviors of their children
8Effects of ConflictThe number of conflicts experienced does not seem to predict poor health and well-being as much as whether the individuals perceive the conflict to be resolvableCommon responses to abuse, including verbal abuse of yelling and the silent treatment, are hypervigilance; difficulty relaxing; withdrawal at the first sign of tension or conflict; floating away, or dissociating; and not knowing or expressing what one really wants
9Effects of Conflict, cont. A child’s general feeling of self-worth are directly affected by interparental conflict
10Learning about Conflict Can assist in the process of redrawing family boundaries, letting you see which styles backfire, and which ones work bestLearning effective skills for dealing with your younger brother or sister is far better than engaging in a family dispute that will affect your children and subsequent generations as well
11Conflicts at WorkPresents important challenges that affect your career developmentWe carry interpersonal relationships into our workplace; work life and private life intertwine
12Importance of Skill Development The skills of conflict management are not intuitively obviousIn conflict, we must learn to do what comes unnaturallyHow many of us intuitively know to tell more and more of the truth when a conflict is becoming destructive rather than keeping quiet or yelling?
13Unresolved ConflictIn personal relationships, unresolved conflict leads to drifting away from one another and sometimes jettisoning the relationship entirely
14Emotional Intelligence Conflict management draws upon the skills of emotional intelligenceThe capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships
15ApplicationLook on page 7, at the list of list of emotional intelligenceDiscuss with a small group what you believe are your three key strengths from the list. What are three areas that you believe, or have been told, need development? Name and describe some people you know who model certain areas of emotional intelligence. What do you notice that they do?
16Do we have an option?We do not have an option of staying out of conflict unless we stay out of relationships, families, work, and community
17Approach to ConflictYour approach to conflict is not an inborn set of responses but rather a developed repertoire of communication skills that are learned, refined, and practiced
18Destructive ConflictWe would like to do what we can to prevent destructive, time-wasting, relationship-harming conflictConflicts move from episode to episode in a continually unfolding pattern of interaction between the prime parties.Destructive conflict rely on the same old (unproductive) strategiesTrying harder often doesn’t work
19Destructive Conflict, cont. If all participants are dissatisfied with the outcomes of a conflict and think they have lost as a result, then the conflict is classified as destructiveThe four horsemen of the apocalypse – when these four behaviors “ride in” to a relationship, the end is near
20The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse CriticizingDefensivenessStonewallingContempt
21CriticizingThe first moments of a conflict interaction – the critical start up – can set the scene for a constructive or destructive conflict
22ApplicationIn your small group, practice changing criticisms to complaints. Think of destructive criticism, maybe you have used, or that others have used against you, and practice brainstorming about how to change these critical comments to legitimate complaintsAvoid blameUse “I” statementDescribe instead of judgingLeave the door open for change
23A Constructive Complaint Use an “I” statementDescribe the undesirable behaviorUse neutral, not judgmental, languageAsk for a specific, behavioral change
24DefensivenessWhen people use defensiveness communication, they are communicating a desire to protect themselves against pain, fear, personal responsibility, or new informationSome people seemingly can’t help adopting a devil’s advocate or contrary point of view. For them conversation is a battle of wits. The enjoy the game of “batting around ideas” and are often very good at the performance
25Supportive vs. Defensive Climate Evaluation vs. descriptionControl vs. problem solvingStrategy vs. spontaneityNeutrality vs. empathySuperiority vs. equalityCertainty vs. provisionalism
26Support neutralizes defensiveness Support does not mean agreementYou can disagree and still be supportive
27Stonewalling Is more than avoidance of conflict An attempt to signal withdrawal from communicationMaintenance of a stiff neck and frozen facial features
28ContemptOften involves a nasty kind of mockery, put-downs, hostile corrections, and nonverbal expressions of contemptFunctions as a powerful attack on the personhood of the otherFull-blown continuing contempt means that intervention of some kind is needed, or the relationship is over
29Reciprocity of Negative Emotion Can lead to destructive conflictThree kinds of reciprocity:Low intensity emotion is respond to in kind (anger)High intensity emotion is met in kind (fury)Low intensity emotion is met with high intensity emotion (hurt with rage)Meeting negative emotion with more, especially more destructive, negative emotion leads to big problems in relationships
30Communicative Behavior Easily identified with conflict, such as when one part openly disagrees with the otherAn interpersonal conflict may be operating at a more tacit levelThe interpersonal struggle is expressed by the avoidance
31Intrapersonal perceptions The bedrock upon which conflicts are builtBut only when there are communicative manifestations of these perceptions will an “interpersonal conflict” emerge.
32Communication is the central element in all interpersonal conflict Communication and conflict are related in the following ways:Communication behavior often creates conflictCommunication behavior reflects conflictCommunication is the vehicle for the productive or destructive management of conflict
33InterdependenceConflict parties engage in an expressed struggle and interfere with one another because they are interdependentA person who is not dependent upon another – that is, who has no special interest in what the other does – has no conflict with that other personIn a healthy family, everyone can talk to every other member. This builds healthy interdependence
34Strategic ConflictConflict in which parties have choices as opposed to conflict in which the power is so disparate that there are virtually no choicesNo one party in a conflict can make a decision that is totally separate – each decision affects the other conflict participants
35Gridlocked ConflictsThe conflict makes you feel rejected by your partnerYou keep talking but make no headwayYou become entrenched and are unwilling to budgeYou feel more frustrated and hurt after you talk than before
36Gridlocked Conflict, cont. Your talk is devoid of humor, amusement, or affectionYou become more entrenched over time so you become insulting during your talksMore vilification makes you more polarized, extreme, and less willing to compromiseEventually you disengage emotionally or physically or both
37Perceived Incompatible Goals People usually engage in conflict over goals that are important to themOpposing goals are a fact of lifeIf goals are reframed or put in a different context, the parties can agreeTrust is built through a discussion of goals
38Conclusion Conflict brings both danger and opportunity Changing our usual behavior, learning to “do what comes unnaturally,” requires an examination of one’s most deeply held values and spiritual beliefs