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Conflict. Conflict exists when individuals who depend on each other express different views, interests, or goals and perceive their views as incompatible or oppositional. Conflict is. Natural Inevitable Potentially constructive. Conflict.

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Conflict exists when individuals who depend on each other express different views, interests, or goals and perceive their views as incompatible or oppositional.

Conflict is
Conflict is

  • Natural

  • Inevitable

  • Potentially constructive


  • Expressed disagreement—all conflict is expressed verbally or nonverbally.

  • Conflict can occur only between people who depend on each other.

  • Conflict involves opposition and is more than just differences.

    • The perception that our concerns are at odds with those of another

    • The perception that we and another must reconcile our differences

Principles of conflict
Principles of Conflict

  • Conflict is a natural process in all relationships.

  • Conflict may be overt or covert.

    • Overt conflict is out in the open and explicit.

    • Covert conflict is hidden and often unacknowledged.

      • Passive aggressiveness is aggression that is denied or disguised by the aggressor.

      • Games are highly patterned interactions in which the real conflicts are hidden or denied.

Principles of conflict1
Principles of Conflict

  • Conflict may be managed well or poorly.

    • It can either promote continuing attachment or split a relationship apart, depending on how differences are managed .

    • It involves intense emotions that we may not know how to handle.

    • Learning communication conflict skills can help us deal with differences.

Principles of conflict2
Principles of Conflict

  • Conflict may be good for individuals and relationships.

    • It allows us to consider other points of views.

    • It can support our own identity by clarifying how we differ from others.

    • It expands partners’ views of each other.

Chinese character for crisis
Chinese Character for Crisis



Responses to conflict
Responses to Conflict

  • The exit response involves leaving a relationship either by physically walking out or by psychologically withdrawing.

  • The neglect response occurs when an individual denies or minimizes problems, disagreements, anger, tension.

  • The loyalty response is staying committed to a relationship despite differences.

  • The voice response is an active, constructive strategy for dealing with conflict by talking about problems and trying to resolve them.

Responses to relational distress
Responses to Relational Distress





Social influences on conflict culture
Social Influences on ConflictCulture

  • The majority of Mediterranean cultures regard conflict as a normal and valuable part of everyday life.

  • Many Hispanic cultures perceive conflict as an opportunity to be expressive and dramatic.

  • In the U. S. the emphasis on individuality makes conflict competitive.

  • In most Asian countries conflict is condemned and a solution should be found that benefits everyone and creates harmony.

Social influences on conflict gender


Enact loyalty and voice

Are taught to put a priority on a relationship

Use talk to create and sustain closeness

Tend to defer and compromise


Respond with exit/neglect

Place less emphasis on talk

Minimize problems

May use coercive tactics and force their resolutions

Conflict causes more physical and psychological pain

Social Influences on ConflictGender

Social influences on conflict sexual orientation
Social Influences on ConflictSexual Orientation

  • Sexual preference doesn’t seem to be a major influence on how individuals see and deal with conflict.

    • Gays and lesbians appear to have fewer sexual conflicts and to talk more openly about sexual issues than heterosexuals.

    • Gay and lesbian partners have an intragender empathy that creates less conflict.

    • Lesbian couples talk the most about relationships, heterosexual couples the next most, and gay couples the least reflecting gender socialization.

Unproductive conflict patterns
Unproductive Conflict Patterns

  • Early stages

    • The foundation for destructive conflict is established by communication that fails to confirm individuals.

    • Cross-complaining occurs when one person’s complaint is met by a counter-complaint.

    • Negative climates tend to build on themselves.

Unproductive conflict patterns1
Unproductive Conflict Patterns

  • Middle stages

    • Once a negative climate has been set, it is stoked by other unconstructive communication.

    • Kitchensinking occurs when everything except the kitchen sink is thrown into the argument.

      • Focusing on specific issues resolves conflicts constructively.

    • Marked by frequent interruptions that disrupt the flow of talk

Unproductive conflict patterns2
Unproductive Conflict Patterns

  • Later stages

    • Solutions become the focus

      • Each person’s proposals are met with counterproposals.

    • Excessive metacommunication

      • The communication patterns are discussed and never return to the issues.

    • Communication that makes up unproductive conflict reflect egocentrism, dogmatism and are self perpetuating.

    • Unproductive conflict doesn’t involve dual perspective and it seals off awareness of common grounds.





  • Validation of each other

  • Disconfirmation of each other

  • Sensitive listening

  • Poor listening

  • Dual perspective

  • Preoccupation with self

  • Recognize other’s


  • Cross-complaining

  • Seek clarification

  • Hostile mind reading





  • Infrequent interruptions

  • Frequent interruptions

  • Focus on specific issues

  • Everything is thrown in

  • Compromises and contracts

  • Counterproposals

  • Useful metacommunication

  • Excessive metacommunication

  • Summarizing the concerns for both partners

  • Self-summarizing

Guidelines for effective communication during conflict
Guidelines for Effective Communication During Conflict

  • Focus on the overall communication system.

  • Time conflict effectively.

    • Both people should be psychologically present and not rushed.

    • Be flexible.

    • Use bracketing to keep the discussion focused.

  • Aim for win-win conflict.

  • Honor yourself, your partner and the relationship.

  • Show grace when appropriate.

    • Grant forgiveness or put aside our own needs when there is no standard that says we should.




The Other


Honor yourself, the other, the relationship!