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Interpersonal Skills for Dealing with Conflict: Respect and Support in Action. Tricia S. Jones, Ph.D. Dept. of Psychological Studies in Education Temple University and Jessica Jameson, Ph.D. Department of Communication North Carolina State University.

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interpersonal skills for dealing with conflict respect and support in action

Interpersonal Skills for Dealing with Conflict: Respect and Support in Action

Tricia S. Jones, Ph.D.Dept. of Psychological Studies in EducationTemple UniversityandJessica Jameson, Ph.D.Department of Communication North Carolina State University

opening discussion exercise experience of disrespect
Opening Discussion Exercise: “Experience of Disrespect”
  • Think of a time in your professional life when you felt disrespected by someone.
    • - What was your relationship with the other person?
    • - What did they say and/or do that was disrespectful?
    • - How did you respond to that behavior?
    • - How did the disrespect change your relationship with this person?
  • Share your experience with a partner.
step one recognizing their identity needs
  • We send three kinds of messages that project our preferred identity.
    • Face Bids - Face bids indicate how we want to be seen by the other. The message is, ‘This is how I want you to see me.’
    • Altercasting Bids – Altercasting Bids send a message about how I see you. The message is, “I see you in this way.”
    • Relationship Bids – Relationship bids are messages about how I see the relationship we have. The message is, ‘We have the kind of relationship where. . .”
step two avoiding disrespect disconfirmation
  • The clearest way to communicate disrespect is to act as if the other person does not exist or does not have the right to assert his or her identity. These behaviors are called disconfirmation behaviors.
    • Indifference
    • Imperviousness
    • Disqualification
  • Indifference is one of the more extreme forms of disconfirmation. It includes physically ignoring the other person and the bid he or she has tried to make.
      • Nonverbally ignoring the other person
      • Refusing to respond to the other person (the silent treatment)
  • Being Impervious to the other is another form of disconfirmation. Impervious messages deny the other person’s self-experience.
    • deny the feelings of the other person
    • deny the other person’s perceptions
    • deny the other person’s ability to speak for himself (you speak for the other – put words in his mouth)
  • Disqualificationis the most sophisticated form of disconfirmation. It looks like you are responding to the other, because you are answering her. But, your answer is crafted so you don’t really respond to the person or their statements. Most people use disqualification when they are in a situation where they have to respond in some form but do not want to respond to the other (an avoidance-avoidance situation).
forms of disqualification
Forms of Disqualification
  • a receiver who denies that they are personally responding (he answers “for” someone else)
  • a receiver who avoids addressing the other person as a unique individual (she talks about a group the person belongs to rather than the person)
  • an intentionally contradictory and/or unclear response that is so confusing the hearer has no clue how to interpret the message (he babbles or gets sarcastic)
  • a receiver who responds to a different message than the one presented (she completely changes topic or answers an unasked question).
step three send confirming messages
  • Confirming behaviors accept the other person’s identity as legitimate. They send the message that you respect the importance of this person and you respect the person they want to be.
  • There are three kinds of confirming behavior:
    • Recognition
    • Acknowledgement
    • Endorsement.
  • Recognition confirms that “You exist for me.” “I recognize you as an important person.” Recognition can be either verbal or nonverbal.
      • Nonverbal Recognition -- making eye contact with them when they wish to engage us, touching them when they’ve communicated a need for support, turning to face them when talking.
      • Verbal Recognition -- We can also use verbal communication to recognize the other, verbally addressing the person.
  • Acknowledgement, which is usually verbal, is a statement about awareness of or interest in the other person’s perceptions, comments, or questions. The key to acknowledgement is that you can acknowledge the person’s perceptions, comments or questions, without agreeing with them.
      • Directly acknowledging the person’s statement or request
      • Asking for clarification
      • Directly acknowledging their feelings
  • Endorsement is confirming behavior that sends the message “the way you are feeling is OK, or the way you are perceiving this is OK.” It is the strongest level of confirming behavior because it endorses or supports the way they are experiencing the world. Endorsement can be communicated verbally or nonverbally.
    • Agreement with Judgments
    • Agreements with Feelings
    • Supportive Response
    • Compliment
communication defensiveness and conflict
Communication, Defensiveness, and Conflict
  • The way we confirm or disconfirm the other person can send messages about whether we respect or disrespect their identity – who they are and how they want to be treated.
  • When we feel that others are threatening our identity, we engage in defensive behavior to protect our self-image.
  • Think of a recent situation where you felt you were becoming defensive in a conversation.
    • Why were you feeling threatened?
    • What was the other person saying or doing that made you defensive?
    • What did you say or do in return?
    • How did these behaviors affect the conflict? Did they help? Hurt? Why?
defensiveness interdependence and conflict
  • People do not have conflicts with others they don’t need.
  • Interdependence is complicated by what Deborah Tannen has termed the “paradox” of involvement and independence. While all human beings have needs for involvement with others and feelings of acceptance, we also want to feel that we are in control of our own destiny and that we can act autonomously
discussion exercise interdependence between teachers and parents
Discussion Exercise: Interdependence between Teachers and Parents
  • Talk to your partner about the interdependence that exists between teachers and parents.
    • What do parents need from teachers?
    • What do teachers need from parents?
    • Do members of these groups always recognize their interdependence?
defensive and supportive communication

Some communication strategies produce defensiveness and some decrease defensiveness

Defensive Supportive

Evaluation v. Description

Control v. Problem Orientation

Strategy v. Spontaneity

Neutrality v. Empathy

Superiority v. Equality

Certainty v. Provisionalism

evaluation versus description
Evaluation Versus Description
  • Evaluative language judges, quantifies, or accuses
    • “YOU” language
  • Descriptive language focuses on the speaker’s perceptions
    • “I” language
control versus problem orientation
Control Versus Problem Orientation
  • Control messages impose one person’s views on an other without concern or interest in what the other thinks or feels
  • Problem orientation signals respect and the desire to make a decision or find an agreeable solution
strategy versus spontaneity
Strategy Versus Spontaneity
  • Strategic communication refers to a speaker with an agenda or ulterior motive
  • Spontaneity, in the sense of honest and forthright communication, refers to a speaker who shares thoughts and feelings openly
neutrality versus empathy
Neutrality Versus Empathy
  • Neutral communication does NOT offer a diplomatic point of view on an issue –it conveys indifference to the other
  • Empathy involves understanding and appreciating the other’s feelings
superiority versus equality
Superiority Versus Equality
  • Superior communication sends the message that all others are inferior or inadequate in some way, therefore, the speaker has no interest in what they might say
  • Equality in communication sends the message that the other is valued and worthy as a human being
certainty versus provisionalism
Certainty Versus Provisionalism
  • Certainty: People who believe they are right and communicate this clearly incite defensiveness in others because they come across as narrow-minded and unwilling to listen to another point of view
  • Provisional communication involves acknowledging other points of view
    • “I may not agree, but you’re entitled to your own opinion.”