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9: Interpersonal Conflict

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    Learning Objectives

    • Define interpersonal conflict, conflict goals, and conflict outcomes.
    • Describe unproductive approaches to conflict management.
    • Compare and contrast conflict management styles.
    • Recognize interpersonal communication skills that contribute to peaceful conflict resolution.

    Communication and conflict are interwoven and affect most interpersonal relationships at some time, including, but not limited to, romantic partnerships, family, friends, and co-workers. Communication is a key component of interpersonal conflict in that communication behaviors can create conflict, reflect conflict, and serve as the instrument that delivers productive and unproductive conflict (Hocker & Wilmot, 2018).

    • 9.1: Introduction to Interpersonal Conflict
      In this chapter, you will learn theories related to communication and the management of interpersonal conflict. This chapter will call on you to reflect on some of your communication practices and conflict patterns and to apply different perspectives regarding conflict to develop skills to navigate conflict more effectively in the future.
    • 9.2: Interpersonal Conflict Defined
      This section introduces a definition of interpersonal conflict and provides a breakdown of some of the key concepts in this definition. Interpersonal conflict occurs when two or more interdependent parties perceive and experience a struggle over incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from others in achieving their goals.
    • 9.3: Conflict Goals and Outcomes
      This section provides an overview of common sources of interpersonal conflict and potential conflict outcomes.
    • 9.4: Conflict Management Style
      Conflict management is the process of trying to find effective strategies to minimize and solve problems associated with different conflict goals. When we look at how we negotiate the conflict in our relationships, we find that typical patterns of communication occur. Your personal style of conflict management can be shaped by a variety of factors, such as your gender, age, culture, personality, family communication patterns, and goals for the situation.
    • 9.5: Unproductive Conflict
      In this next section, you will learn about unproductive conflict strategies. Unproductive strategies are communication behaviors that may prevent successful problem solving and cause relationship deterioration. First, you will learn about the Four Horsemen of the Relationship Apocalypse, broad patterns of responses to conflict that harm relationships. Second, this section will introduce you to unproductive communication behaviors that are ineffective for conflict resolution.
    • 9.6: Conflict Resolution
      This section provides an overview of key communication skills for effective conflict resolution, a model of conflict management, and additional tips to help resolve conflicts peacefully.
    • 9.7: Summary and Review
    • 9.8: References

    Thumbnail: Half of two people side by side with arms crossed (Few Man Woman by Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

    This page titled 9: Interpersonal Conflict is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Angela Hoppe-Nagao (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative (OERI)) .