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Conflict Communication. Part II. Chapter 8. Anger. Anger. What is Anger? Anger is important—large effects on social relationships Anger is a strong feeling of displeasure Antagonism and rage are synonymous Different from hurt or irritated May lead to revenge and/or violence

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Conflict Communication

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  • What is Anger?
    • Anger is important—large effects on social relationships
    • Anger is a strong feeling of displeasure
      • Antagonism and rage are synonymous
    • Different from hurt or irritated
    • May lead to revenge and/or violence
    • Anger can sometimes be used constructively
  • We are not capable of controlling destructive anger
  • Uncontrolled and destructive anger expression is natural
  • Uncontrolled and destructive anger expression is a force that must be “released”
    • E.g. “venting,” “letting off steam,” ”blow your top”
  • Others cause our anger
  • Most common between close ties
    • More contact
    • More caring about the actions/feelings of the other
    • Greater interdependence
      • Relationship success matters more
    • More confident that expression is acceptable
      • Greater predictability
  • Anger manifestations:
    • 1. One type occurs instantly with no malice or forethought
      • Even in people not generally viewed as hostile or aggressive.
    • 2. Another form festers away over time
      • Revenge.
    • 3. A third type is attached to one’s personality: trait-like
      • Beneath the surface
      • Can quickly manifest when individuals feel pressured, defensive, attacked, told what to do (control)
  • Type 3: trait-like anger:
      • Enduring disposition to experiencing anger more frequently, more intensely, and for a longer
      • Often tuned to anger-related words
      • Responds to anger words more quickly than to other emotion words
      • People who have low-anger trait tend to spontaneously reframe the circumstances in ways that deflect or inhibit their anger
  • Different sources of anger: loss of control, frustration, fear, insecurity, loss, sadness
  • Men and women experience it differently
    • Men: anger is empowering—they have power and it gives them more
    • Women: emerges out of feelings of frustration and powerlessness
  • As people age:
    • Less likely to exhibit trait anger.
    • Anger for older adults (~50s and up) is less frequent and less intense
    • Less overt displays of anger
  • Managing Anger:
    • Three Different Ways of Expressing or Not Expressing One’s Anger:
      • “Anger-Ins” (hold it in)
      • “Anger-outs” (express it)
      • “Anger controllers” (manage it)
  • Anger-ins:
    • Difficulty in admitting that they are angry
    • Know that they are angry but don’t want to tell the other person
    • Tell others about their anger
    • Generally passive aggressive.
  • Anger-outs:
    • Automatic reactions, quick to criticize, blame, and accuse
    • Minor aggressive acts such as bickering
    • Verbal aggression
    • Physical aggression, force
  • Anger controllers:
    • Think positively about conflict
      • Use techniques to better manage it
    • Collaborate and work together toward mutually satisfactory solutions
    • Use the S-TLC system
    • Negotiate rather than compete
    • Manage the conflict climate and stress levels
    • Use assertive communication behavior
      • Employ the steps of the interpersonal confrontation ritual
  • Interpersonal confrontation ritual:
    • Identify problem(s)/needs/issues
      • Be honest, be complete
      • Many people can’t remember what they were fighting about
    • Signal the need to talk
      • In a way that doesn’t threaten face or inflame
    • Confront: talk about your problem
      • Be assertive, not aggressive
    • Listen to feedback
    • Resolve: seek mutual agreement
      • Seek compromise as a last resort
    • Follow up: set a time/place
  • What to do before expressing (or withholding) anger
    • *Take time out
    • Use relaxation exercises
    • *Engage in self-talk
    • Seek alternative ways to release anger
    • *Uncover the emotion that is disguised as anger
    • *See your part in the problem
    • *Mentally switch places with the other
  • If you must expressing anger: do it effectively
    • Don’t: yell, make threatening gestures, curse or swear, threaten, mock, or use alcohol as a means of courage
    • Express after cooling down
    • Direct at the target
    • Restore a sense of justice
    • Regain control
    • Don’t invite retaliation
    • Anticipate the effect of your words and actions
    • Try to keep the other focused on the here and now
  • If another is the one in anger:
    • Remain calm
    • Acknowledge the source of anger
    • Listen and reflect
    • Walk away if necessary
      • But promise to engage later
conflict and face issues
Conflict and Face Issues
  • What is it?
    • Impression or “image” people have of themselves
      • *Based on the approval and acceptance of others
      • “Looking glass self”
    • Isn’t necessarily very accurate
    • One of our most valuable possessions
    • Often very fragile
    • Heavily guarded; well defended
  • All this is “impression management”
conflict and face issues1
Conflict and Face Issues
  • Fundamental assumption:
    • People are motivated to create and maintain impressions of themselves (core of many conflict situations)
  • Demands of “face”:
    • Create and sustain self-identity; create, protect, and maintain others’ identities
    • When people lose face: shame (self-focused) and/or guilt (behavior-focused)
    • May also seek retaliation
conflict and face issues2
Conflict and Face Issues
  • Positive face:
    • A positive and consistent self image that is accepted by the group, peers, others
    • We want to feel that others approve and agree with this (somewhat fictional) self image
    • Desire to be liked and admired
    • Relates to self-esteem issues
conflict and face issues3
Conflict and Face Issues
  • Face-threatening act: acts that conflict with the face wants and needs
  • Autonomous face (also “negative face”):
    • I’m in control of my fate, responsible; mature
    • I’m self-sufficient, independent, reliable
    • May be seen as “silent leaders”
      • “I’m part of the team, but I lead by example”
    • Impose on my freedom to be in control: face threat (respond with defensiveness)
      • Psychological reactance
conflict and face issues4
Conflict and Face Issues
  • What triggers negative face threats?
    • Threat, order, warning, request, reminder, suggestion, advice, promise, expressions of admiration, envy, hated, lust
  • We can signal that we have weak negative face:
    • Expressing thanks, accepting thanks, accepting an apology, accepting an excuse, accepting an offer
other face concepts
Other “Face” Concepts
  • Fellowship face:
    • Need to be seen as a valued member of the group
    • Focus on cohesiveness, equal participation, etc.
    • Don’t stand out from the others
  • Competence face
    • Our desire to be identified with a role
      • E.g. I’m the computer expert. I’m very competent
    • I want to be seen as reliable by my peers
    • Threaten: defensiveness
conflict and face issues5
Conflict and Face Issues
  • Protecting others’ autonomy face:
    • Ask open-ended questions
    • Listen without judging
    • Explore options
    • Don’t exclude others
conflict and face issues6
Conflict and Face Issues
  • Facework:
    • Establish/maintain impressions of ourselves to others; support or deny the impressions that others are making
  • "the communicative strategies one uses to enact self-face and to uphold, support, or challenge another person's face" (Masumoto, Oetzel, Takai, Ting-Toomey, & Yokochi, 2000).
conflict and face issues7
Conflict and Face Issues
  • Preventive facework—tactics
    • See the situation from the other’s perspective
      • How does the issue affect the other and the other’s self-image?
    • Initially (at least) accept what the other person says at “face” value
    • Accept the other person’s right to change his or her mind
    • Avoid face-threatening topics; use communication practices that minimize threats to face.
conflict and face issues8
Conflict and Face Issues
  • Preventive facework—tactics
    • Use politeness and disclaimers
      • Hedging: indicate uncertainty and receptivity to suggestions
      • Cognitive disclaimer: asserting that the behavior is reasonable and under control, despite appearances
      • Credentialing: indicating you have good reasons and appropriate qualifications for your statements
      • Sin license: indicating that this is an appropriate occasion to violate the rule; not a character defect.
      • Appeal for suspended judgment: asking the other to withhold judgment until it is explained.
conflict and face issues9
Conflict and Face Issues
  • Supportive Facework helps reinforce the way the other is presenting himself or herself
    • 1. Do I try to make the other feel important?
    • 2. Do I try to make the other look good to other people?
    • 3. Do I try to make the other think that they are winning?
    • 4. Do I try to make the other feel secure?
    • 5. Do I try to make the other believe that I am honest and trustworthy?
conflict and face issues10
Conflict and Face Issues
  • Corrective Facework : statements meant to ameliorate the effect of face-threatening messages
    • 1. People overestimate their own level of cooperation and underestimate the other person’s
    • 2. Scanning: checking out the perceptions created
      • Question the other to confirm
    • 3. Explaining: used when we perceive that the other has not taken our message in the way we meant it
conflict and face issues11
Conflict and Face Issues
  • Repair Sequence (ritual)
    • 1. Offending situation: the other’s behavior is perceived as intentional and hurtful
      • Whether accurate or not
      • Face threatening: hard to continue until addressed
    • 2. Reproach: request for an explanation of an offense from the one offended
      • Verbal, nonverbal, aggressive, passive-aggressive
      • If perception (step 1) is inaccurate, this can be a trigger
conflict and face issues12
Conflict and Face Issues
  • Repair Sequence (continued)
    • 3. Remedy (account):
      • Refuse to act or even note (most unsatisfying)
      • Provide an account (explanation: excuse or justification)
      • Concessions admit the offender’s guilt and offer restitution
      • Apologies are admissions of blameworthiness and regret on the part of the offender
      • supplied by an offender
    • 4. Acknowledgment: evaluation of the account supplied by the one offended
      • We’re even, we’re OK, I accept your reason
      • Or, rejection of the remedy
image restoration remedies
Image Restoration Remedies
  • Excuse
    • Impairment, diminished responsibility, scapegoat status, victim of sad circumstances, etc.
  • Justification
    • No harm occurred, it was deserved, other people do it, I meant well, I had a responsibility to do it
  • Concession
    • I admit it, let me make it up
  • Apology
    • I admit it, and I truly regret it

Weak restore

Strong restore

  • Admission of blameworthiness AND regret
  • Request for pardon, self-castigation, help
  • Offender wants to restore positive face
  • Appearance of a genuine apology can lessen emotional state of those with high trait hostility
conflict and face issues13
Conflict and Face Issues
  • Conflict And Impression Management In Cyberspace
    • Attractiveness of friends who leave messages on person’s wall in Facebook affects impressions of that person’s attractiveness
    • Comments made by others about a person on his or her profile are more influential in creating impressions than self-made statements
    • Facebook used more by socially adept people to strengthen relationships than by socially anxious people to create them
conflict and face issues14
Conflict and Face Issues
  • Responding to Others
    • Results indicate that apologies and/or offering some corrective action were seen as the most appropriate and effective ways to restore one’s image
conflict and face issues15
Conflict and Face Issues
  • Conflict And Impression Management In Cyberspace
    • In their study of online conflict, Smith, McLaughlin, and Osborne found that few people replied to reproaches and seldom completed the traditional repair sequence
    • Negative conflict behaviors were more frequent in CMC than FTF
    • Higher levels of avoidance and lower levels of forcing in computer-mediated negotiation


Chapter 10

  • Is there an event in your life that you find difficult to forgive?
    • Why?
    • What would it take for you to forgive?
    • What are the consequences of forgiving?
    • What have been the consequences of not forgiving?
  • Most important part of conflict management
    • Only way to transform the meaning of the event
    • Only way to minimize the likelihood of repeating the event
      • Repeats become more destructive with each iteration
    • Not needed in every conflict situation
      • Depends on intimacy of relationship, degree of outcome importance
    • Conscious decision to reduce our focus on the event
      • We decide not to change the future based on the past
      • We decide to move beyond “victimization”
  • Reconciliation:
    • The process of restoring a damaged relationship (creating a new one, more accurately)
    • Forgiving and reconciling are not the same
      • We can forgive, but choose not to reconcile (or even let them know we forgive)
  • Forgiving and reconciling are not one-time events
    • We tend to return to them cognitively and emotionally
    • We deal with different parts over time
  • Competent conflict managers use forgiveness and reconciliation strategies effectively
    • Develop a repertoire of responses
without competence in forgiveness and reconciliation skills relationships will end

Without competence in forgiveness and reconciliation skills, relationships will end

And generate history, feelings, and other effects that persist

  • Relational Transgressions
    • Concern core relational rules
      • Expectations about the way we should behave toward others and the way they should behave toward us
    • We assume a truth bias toward friends and lovers.
    • Deception: deliberately altering information to change a person’s perceptions
    • We assume a helping orientation toward friends and lovers
    • Violations leave strong emotional residues
  • Forgiveness: cognitive process; letting go of feelings of revenge and desires to retaliate.
    • Aids in transforming the meaning of the event, or changing the way we view the event and the person
      • Reframing is key
  • Unforgiveness: cognitive process; not letting go of feeling of revenge and retaliation
  • Revenge: “an eye for an eye.”
  • Reconciliation: behavioral process; actions to restore a relationship or create a new one
    • Distinct from forgiveness.
  • Advantages Of Forgiveness
    • Mental Health
      • Raises self-esteem and lowers depression
    • Physical Health
      • Unforgiveness creates stress; harsh long-term effects
      • Higher levels of pain for trait-based unforgiveness
        • Widely demonstrated links to cardiovascular health
  • Why don’t we forgive?
    • Other hasn’t admitted wrongdoing, apology insincere, desire to be a victim
      • Empathy skill leads to higher levels of forgiveness
    • Age—younger (college age study) = harder
    • Don’t know how, no support
  • Working through forgiveness
    • Can be taught: it’s a skill
  • Levels of Forgiveness
    • Forgiveness for own sake (it’s healthy, feels better)
    • Forgiveness because of empathy: understanding that the other needs forgiveness, or…
    • Forgiveness for the sake of the relationship (not necessarily the other or self)
    • Higher level of empathy: he/she is “like me” (difficult)
    • Even higher level of empathy: “I am like him/her” (most difficult)
      • I could do this to others, too
  • Working Through Reconciliation (optional)
  • Levels of Reconciliation
    • No reconciliation: repression, victim status, low trust, bitterness
    • Possible reconciliation:
      • Usually after admission
    • Conditional reconciliation
      • After expression of regret and apology
    • Processual reconciliation
      • Some attempt at a remedy
    • Restoration
  • Working Through Reconciliation (cont.)
    • Steps toward Reconciliation
      • 1: Account and apology (we usually need these to proceed)
      • 2: Acceptance of account and apology or its absence
        • We must reframe the other and the event
      • 3: Forgiveness may or may not be verbally communicated
        • We may simply act as though it’s forgiven
      • 4: Transforming the relationship, if desired
        • Less intimate, more intimate, different type of relationship
      • 5: Actions confirm forgiveness and reconciliation
        • Beware negative self-fulfilling prophecies: we can create the behaviors in the other we expect to see
        • Create positive self-fulfilling prophecies
  • Working Through Reconciliation (cont.)
    • Forgiveness and reconciliation feed each other in ongoing relationships:
      • After forgiving one another, we tell each other that the act is forgiven, which allows us to act without reference to the offense
      • In turn, we feel better about our relationship and can talk about our relationship without reference to the offense.
      • In turn, actions confirm words which creates the reality of our forgiveness.
  • Moving Beyond Victimization:
    • We tend to want to find someone to blame (not ourselves)
    • Sometimes, we must forgive without communication
      • When reconciliation is not safe, not possible, not desired by you. Not desired by the transgressor, etc.
      • In these cases, any expression of anger, hurt, etc. may make it worse: we can’t risk the vulnerability
      • We learn to “move on”; drop the baggage
      • Seeking revenge hurts us more
      • We MUST do this if we want to continue interaction
    • Sometimes realize that, like us, the other is doing the best that he/she can
  • Seeking forgiveness (offender initiated)
    • Offender experiences feelings of shame and guilt for the offense
    • Offender makes a decision to seek forgiveness
    • Offender expresses remorse and repentance
      • Victim should recognize that this is humbling, it puts the offender in a vulnerable position
    • Final stage of seeking forgiveness: waiting
      • Difficult
      • Tell ourselves that we did all we could


Chapter 11

  • Shift from dealing with our own conflicts to helping others resolve theirs
  • When should we (do we) intervene?
    • When people can’t/won’t do it themselves
  • Mediator/mediation is not:
    • Conciliation, ombudsperson, arbitration, and adjudication/litigation
  • Mediators are unbiasedthird parties who facilitate communication between conflicting parties
    • Parties work out their own agreement


When those involved cannot work out the conflict by themselves

A conflict does not necessarily result in a dispute

why mediation or other adrs
Why Mediation or other ADRs?
  • High case load in the courts
  • Less expensive than litigation
    • Often compulsory
  • Greater level of confidentiality
  • Greater level of control of those involved in the process
  • Typical mediation;
    • 1. One or both disputants seek mediation or a mediator talk them into it.
    • 2. The mediator brings the disputants together and makes an opening statement.
    • 3. Following the opening statement, each person takes a few minutes to describe the dispute from his or her point of view without interruption.
    • 4. The mediator finds common ground on which to build agreement.
    • 5. The mediator writes up the final agreement.
    • 6. The mediator ends the mediation.
  • Terms:
    • ADR: alternatives to dispute resolution
    • Adjudication: neutral judge and jury hear both sides and decide (ADR)
      • Either side can appeal
    • Arbitration: neutral third party hears both sides and makes the decision (ADR)
      • More binding that adjudication (can’t appeal)
    • Ombudsperson: an ADR where one side has a person that “cuts through the red tape” (usually when dealing with governmental agencies)
    • Caucus: when the mediator talks to one side alone
  • Conciliation: (ADR) neutral third party practices “shuttle diplomacy” by traveling back and forth between conflicting parties unable to meet
  • Mediation: (ADR) neutral third party facilitates communication between the conflicting parties; they work out mutually acceptable agreement
    • Mediators have no decision-making power
  • Mediation reduces the BATNA of the disputants
    • Mediators help to restore communication and normalize relations
    • Mediation allows for full participation by the conflicting parties
    • Mediation has a high success rate (80%)
  • Formal versus Informal Mediation
    • Formal: satisfactory agreements are often worked out at a single session lasting 1–3 hours
    • Informal: people can help others without their being formally trained and certified.
  • The Role of the Mediator
    • The “principle of three” effect
      • Two parties: encourages win/lose. Third person signals the public/social attention (face pressure)
    • A mediator has no decision-making power regarding the outcome of the mediation
    • The mediator should develop a “subjective neutrality”
      • Honors the validity and truth of each person’s story without deciding who is right or wrong
    • Mediators must maintain confidentiality
    • Mediators must give equal time/treatment
    • Mediators should not be close with either party
  • Mediators must be competent in communication
    • Be descriptive, not judgmental (e.g., “It seems like you are raising your voice,” versus “It sounds like you are angry”)
    • Be specific (e.g., “You say you are bothered you are by your colleague’s work habits. What specific habits?”)
    • Focus only on behaviors that one can change
    • Give timely feedback when it is requested, as close as possible to the behavior being discussed
    • Speak only for yourself (e.g., “I understand you to say…” “I take it that you feel…” “I want you both to…” “I prefer to keep my opinions to myself.”)
    • Check what you see or hear with the other parties
  • Mediators encourage cooperation and discourage competition between the parties
  • Mediators as Communication Rules Enforcers
    • Rules are obligations and prohibitions (what we may and may not say in certain situations).
    • In opening statements, mediators define the communication rules for the mediation.
      • They enforce those communication rules.
      • They steer the disputants through the steps of mediation.
      • They manage the tone of the discussion.
      • They ask disputants to change focus when needed; keep them on task
typical rules
Typical rules
  • Taking turns to talk without interruptions
  • Talking without expressing hostility to one another
  • Creating a positive climate; no put-downs
  • Focusing on the future (what the parties will do) rather than the past (what was done)
  • Striving for a win–win solution (no one feeling dissatisfied or agreeing to something unacceptable)
  • Focus on solving the problem rather than attacking or blaming the other person
  • Being honest and sharing thoughts and feelings without fear of criticism or publicity
  • Adhering to time constraints/other rules set by mediator
the mediation process
The Mediation Process:
  • One or both disputants seek mediation, or mediators talk them into it (the intake process).
  • The mediators bring the disputants together and make an opening statement, which includes:
    • Participation in mediation is voluntary and the mediator or conflicting parties may terminate it at any time
    • The mediator is unbiased
    • What is said in mediation is confidential
    • That the goal is a written agreement with which both parties are satisfied or at least comfortable
mediation opening statements
Mediation: opening statements
  • That the mediator is an unbiased facilitator of discussion and does not make decisions
  • That the parties should talk to and look at one another rather than at the mediator.
  • That the parties will take turns talking without interruptions (nonverbal either)
  • That the parties must adhere to time constraints set by the mediator
  • That the parties strive to solve the problem rather than attack, blame, express hostility
mediation opening statements1
Mediation: opening statements
  • That a positive climate with no put-downs will be enforces
  • That focus will be on the future
  • That they can openly share thoughts and feelings without fear of criticism or publicity
  • That a win–win solution is the target (define as no one feeling dissatisfied or agreeing to something either party finds unacceptable)
  • That the parties agree to abide by additional rules as announced by the mediator during the session.
  • Following the opening statements, each person to takes a few minutes to describe the dispute without interruption
    • Sometimes it is useful for mediators to caucus
      • Their may be some information that one disputant doesn’t want to reveal in the presence of the other
      • Caucus should be offered to the other side
  • Find common ground (to build agreement on)
    • Use fractionation, framing (posing good questions with no blame language), reframing (mediators restate negatively loaded, biased, or accusatory statements)
      • Helps the disputants look at the issues differently
  • Final Agreement:
    • A list of behavioral commitments that enumerates specific observable actions each party needs to take to fulfill the agreement
  • Ending the Mediation
    • Each disputant receives a copy of the handwritten, signed agreement. If appropriate, the mediators set up a date for reviewing and evaluating the agreement
    • Mediators thank the parties and wish them well
      • Unlike formal mediation, in informal mediation, no need to file paperwork, have typewritten agreements, etc.
chapter 12

Chapter 12

Managing Conflict from a Theoretical Perspective

conflict theory
Conflict Theory
  • Understanding theories:
    • Not the same as having the skills
      • Theories allow us to carry skills from one situation to another
    • Allow us to apply them appropriately within situations
      • A skill is a learnable behavior, a person can improve it
intra personal theories of conflict
Intrapersonal Theories of Conflict
  • Psychodynamic Theory
    • People experience conflict because of intrapersonal (internal, psychological, emotional, mental) states
    • Helps explain:
      • Displaced conflict: acted out over the right issue, but with the wrong person/thing
        • Often a more socially acceptable or weaker target (if the actual target is highly valued or has greater power)
      • Misplaced conflict: acted out with the right person, but over the wrong issue
        • Often over “safe” rather than suppressed issue
      • Overblown conflict: conflict receives more attention than it really deserves
        • Often to release pent-up energy
psychodynamic theory
Psychodynamic Theory
  • The “id”:
    • The unconscious aspect that “contains everything that is inherited, present at birth, or fixed in the constitution”
  • Contains the libido:
    • The source of instinctual energy, which demands discharge through various channels
    • Operates on the “pleasure principle”:
    • Tension-reduction process: tension from a bodily need is translated into a psychological wish to reduce the tension
    • Seek pleasure and avoid pain: only satisfaction; no regard for the cost of doing so
psychodynamic theory1
Psychodynamic Theory
  • The id is in conflict with the superego
    • Perfects and civilizes behavior
    • Suppress all unacceptable id urges
    • Two components:
      • Ego ideal: the internalized idea of what a person would like to be
      • Conscience: morals and other judgments concerning correct and incorrect behavior
psychodynamic theory2
Psychodynamic Theory
  • Ego: mediates between the id and the superego
      • Governed by the “reality principle”: satisfies the id's desires in realistic and socially appropriate ways
      • Weighs the costs and benefits before acting
  • Effects identified by psychodynamic theory
    • Anxiety: tension when people perceive danger
    • Repression: another defense mechanism when we try not to think about the situation
    • Frustration: results from the internal battle between the id and superego that often erupts into conflict with others
      • Sources: tension, stress, insecurity, anxiety, hostility, sexual urges, or depression.
attribution theory
Attribution Theory
  • People act in conflict situations because of inferences they make about others based on their behavior
    • Internal attributions about another:
      • E.g.: e.g. he hates, she’s stupid, he’s evil, she’s angry, etc.
      • Often results in name-calling (you cheat, idiot, lazy, good for nothing, etc.) and assigning blame (it’s all your fault)
    • External attributions for oneself
      • A way to avoid blame (it’s my parents’ fault that I am this way, I can’t help that I didn’t go to the right school)
      • Avoid giving credit to others where it is due (e.g. you got the job because you graduated from the right school)
attribution theory1
Attribution Theory
  • Fundamental attribution error: overestimate the internal factors and underestimate the external factors in perceptions in others’ behaviors
    • E.g.: “Look at what Sue is doing: she’s obviously got no talent talking to customers”
    • Instead of: “Sue having difficulty making a connection with customers today. I wonder is she’s feeling the stress from her recent divorce”
  • Self-serving bias: When we assign our successes to internal factors and our failures to external factors
    • E.g.: I was really good today with my employees; I have great “people skills.” I had no luck reaching Mike, though; “he’s not a team player”
social exchange theory
Social Exchange Theory
  • We make decisions based on cost/benefit analyses of outcomes of relationships
    • Benefits and costs: material, social, emotional, intellectual, etc.
    • Relationship viewed as a positive is more likely to progress towards greater depth/breadth
    • Perception issue, not reality
  • CL = comparison level = threshold of perceived happiness from a relationship
    • Depends on our/their history
    • Sequence matters (when the good/bad event occurs)
    • Trends matter (a perceived increase/decrease of good/bad events)
    • Perceptionissue, not reality
social exchange
Social Exchange
  • CLalt = comparison level of alternatives
    • How attractive are other choices?
    • What will be the outcome of continuing?
    • Optimum situation when both parties find that: outcome > CLalt > CL
      • If so, relationship will become deeper
  • Alternatives: affected by extrinsic and intrinsic factors
    • Extrinsic (outside influences): e.g. where you go to school
    • Intrinsic (internal influences): e.g. you are shy
    • Perception issue, not reality
conflict theory1
Conflict Theory
  • Social Exchange applied to conflict management
    • Third party intervention may lead a person to examine the current relationship and perceive inequity in it: creating conflict
    • Mediator can reframe issues to “redo the math”
group conflict

Group Conflict

Chapter 13

how does group conflict differ
How Does Group Conflict Differ?
  • Group conflicts are unique
    • Type of interdependence among the parties
      • Organizational in nature
      • Workplace relationships (boss–employee, colleagues, department heads, employee–public, etc.)
      • *We are better deception-detectors at work
        • Familiarity, but less truth bias
    • Group conflicts are distinct from:
      • Formal grievances: must be resolved by third parties (e.g.: human resources specialists)
      • Litigation: lawsuits and issues involving regulatory agencies that oversee an organization.
the nature of conflict in groups
The Nature of Conflict in Groups
  • Types of Conflict
    • Instrumental/task: disagreement between supervisors and subordinates or among members of a team over how to get a job done
    • Relationship: power, trust, supportiveness, competition, and IP relationship rules
      • Including those in task-oriented groups
    • Identity: when face issues are threatened
    • Process: disagreements over the management style
      • Lack of agreement on departmental or organizational process goals
the nature of conflict in groups1
The Nature of Conflict in Groups
  • Information processing perspective:
    • Assumes that conflict has a curvilinear relationship with cognitive flexibility, creative thinking, and problem-solving abilities
    • At low levels of conflict, groups may not experience enough stress to think actively: may ignore important information.
    • At high levels of conflict, groups are unable to process information well: performance suffers
group conflict1
Group Conflict
  • Conflict acts as a group developer (e.g.: Tuckman’s stages)
    • Forming: confusion over expectations, uncertainties, power, identity, inclusion, boundary-testing. Conflict is withheld or poorly managed
      • Not much gets done (no productive conflict)
    • Storming: conflict between belonging and independence. Confusion about goals and purpose, leadership model. Can be short or long
      • Some groups never leave (minutia-driven): maturity issue
      • Can be very unpleasant to those averse to conflict
      • Tolerance of others is key to successfully moving on
      • Leaders must not be too restrictive at this stage
group conflict2
Group Conflict
  • Tuckman’s stages
    • Norming: all systems operational: productivity emerges. Members accept roles, purposes, norms
      • Trust and structure stage
      • Unity emerges: start acting like a team, not individuals
    • Performing: rare: Members are very interdependent, yet are very autonomous: little supervision required
      • Dissent is both allowed and welcomed (provided it is presented in the accepted fashion)
      • Conflict focuses individuals on outcome-driven action
    • Termination: mandatory or voluntary dissolution of the group
      • Even the loss of a single member can shift the group into another stage
when conflict creates poor outcomes
When Conflict Creates Poor Outcomes
  • Role Conflict
    • Not just a job assignment: the expected characteristics of the person who fills the role.
      • Formal role: from the assigned position in a group or organization
        • Organizational chart or “chain of command” reflects these formal roles; prescribes who is supposed to report to whom.
      • Informal roles in groups and organizations arise from the communication and interactions
    • Both cause conflict
group conflict3
Group Conflict
  • Role conflict:
    • Depends of the type of role
      • Task (usually formal): asking for and giving information, opinions
        • Promotive
      • Maintenance (formal or informal) confirming others, supportive messages
        • Promotive
      • Disruptive (informal): self-centered, diverts group off task
        • Could be task and maintenance roles that do not serve the outcome; they are not promotive, they are disruptive
too much cohesiveness groupthink

Too much cohesiveness: Groupthink

“… when concurrence-seeking becomes so dominant in a cohesive in-group that it tends to override realistic appraisals of alternative courses of action” (Janis, 1982, p.9)

groupthink symptoms
Groupthink Symptoms
  • Illusion of invulnerability (optimism):
    • Relieves us of responsibility to make difficult rational decisions. Also, self-esteem and consistency issues
  • Rationalization (especially negative information)
  • Illusion of morality
  • Stereotyping of outgroup members and leaders (us against them thinking)
  • Peer pressure: dissent against the group members that disagree
  • Self-censorship
  • Illusion of unanimity (silence is approval bias)
  • Mindguarding (usually self-appointed)
group conflict4
Group Conflict
  • Abilene Paradox
    • Group actions that no one (members) wanted to take
      • Action anxiety: we often act based on what we believe others expect us to do
        • Even if we disagree, or we’re wrong about the others. Supported by:
      • Negative fantasies (perceived risk): unrealistic visualizations of harmful effects resulting from acting the way we think we should: excuse for not acting.
      • Fear of separation: ostracism is the most powerful punishment
      • Real risk: operates no differently from perceived risk
      • Confusion of fantasies and reality: we make the fantasy reality (self-fulfilling prophecy): Fantasized risk becomes real
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Group Conflict
  • Lucifer Effect
    • Zimbardo (Stanford Prison Experiment)
    • Usually in unusual, high pressure situations
      • Circumstances overwhelm the individual
    • The point where we “cross the line“
    • Often occur when constraints are released
      • Rules are unquestioned: we obey without thinking
      • We cannot separate “me” from the role expected of us
      • Roles we play become so entwined we no longer think about what we are doing or what others expect of us
group conflict6
Group Conflict
  • Strategies to Resolve Conflict (chapter 3 issues):
    • Contend (compete)
    • Collaborate
    • Avoid
    • Compromise
    • Accommodate
  • Bias toward cooperation leads most people to try to collaborate
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Group Conflict
  • Relationship issue: conflict is best avoided
    • Research: avoiding responses to relationship-oriented conflicts: higher levels of team performance
      • Contending or collaborating responses lowered team performance overall
    • Avoiding responses better for two reasons:
      • Relationship conflict is difficult to settle to mutual satisfaction
        • Cooperative and understanding unlikely to solve the problem; makes it bigger and intractable
      • Collaborating and contending responses direct team members away from their tasks and teamwork
        • Focus on interpersonal relations: team functioning and effectiveness suffers
group conflict8
Group Conflict
  • Best Practices
    • Develop a habit of cooperation; manage (not maximize) group cohesiveness
      • Groups that trust one another handle conflict in more productive terms.
    • Avoid, at least initially, relationship-oriented conflicts
      • Better resolved over time as team members come to know one another better.
    • Approach process and task-related conflicts in an expedient manner, favor collaborating strategies as a way to explore alternatives for future behavior.
managing organizational conflict1
Managing Organizational Conflict
  • Effects of organizational conflict:
    • Lowered productivity
    • Less creativity
    • Less innovation
    • Prolonged, unresolved conflict
    • Negative consequences for team members’ health
managing organizational conflict2
Managing Organizational Conflict
  • Organizational Diversity and Conflict:
    • Diversity-based conflict: when personal characteristics (cultural, ethnic, racial, etc.) are the source
    • Social category characteristics (age, ethnicity, gender, etc.) and informational characteristics (work experience, education, values, beliefs, etc.) contribute to diversity-based conflict.
    • Civility as a Response to conflict:
      • Attitude of respect toward others manifested in our behavior toward them; not predicated on how we feel about them in particular
        • How we act, not think or feel
managing organizational conflict3
Managing Organizational Conflict
  • Civility:
    • Mindfulness of the dignity of the other person in your sphere at all times
    • The sum of the many sacrifices we are called to make for the sake of living together
  • Rules for civility at work:
    • Best words when caught in an unexpected, emotional-charged situation: no words at all.
    • Use words respectful of the specific listener to whom they are addressed (not some generic “rule”)
    • Respect the reality of the situation: use temperate, accurate, non-inflammatory, words when describing or commenting on ideas, issues, or persons
managing organizational conflict4
Managing Organizational Conflict
  • Civility:
    • Use objective, nondiscriminatory language that respects the uniqueness of all individuals.
    • Respect your listeners by using clean language all the time on the job
    • Civility is two commitments:
      • (1)Do no harm to others harm; (2) do good for others.
    • When we disagree, civility requires that we be honest about our differences; manage rather than suppress or ignore them
    • Civility requires that we come into the presence of others with a sense of gratitude, rather than duty and obligation.
managing organizational conflict5
Managing Organizational Conflict
  • Work-life conflict
    • A. Work–life conflict: a balance between one’s personal life and the demands of work. Includes:
      • Hours
      • Vacation
      • Childcare
      • Wireless technology
      • Time
      • Roles at work vs. roles at home
workplace bullying from playground to boardroom
Workplace bullying: From Playground to Boardroom
  • A frequent, enduring abusive interaction distinguished by targets’ inability to defend
  • Bullying has four specific features:
    • Intensity
    • Repetition
    • Duration
    • Power disparity.
  • Bullying intends to control or harm others through insults, gossip, criticism, ridicule, etc.
  • Bullying is a pattern of abuse that persists;
  • The longer the bullying, the greater the harm (physical, mental, emotional)
managing bullies
Managing Bullies
  • Reverse discourse
    • Tactics of responding to the bully through communicative means (e.g. turning an insult into a compliment)
    • Use of lawyers, outside experts
  • Formal or informal grievance against the bully
    • E.g. the confrontational ritual presented in chapter 2
      • Doesn’t always work, particularly at work
  • Subversive (dis)obedience: passive-aggressive behavior (chapter 3)
  • Retaliation: hostile gossip and/or fantasies for physically harming or killing the bully
managing bullies1
Managing Bullies
  • Psychological detachment
    • Creating a sense of being away from work
  • Collective voice
    • When employees talk amongst themselves about their experiences and what they can do about them
  • Exodus. works well when one is only in a temporary situation
    • A person can quit, make a threat to quit, put in for a transfer, or aid others in quitting
social conflict

Social Conflict

Chapter 15

social conflict introduction
Social Conflict Introduction
  • Clash of different and conflicting value systems
    • “Intractable issues”
  • Transcends those involved
    • Clash of social or cultural, religious, political, or economic philosophies
    • Each party doesn't understand why the other doesn’t “get it”
  • Slogans and simple answers substitute for arguments
  • Can descend into violent behavior
@social conflict
@Social Conflict
  • Intractable issues appear like normal conflict:
    • Fail to agree on their goals; see activities as incompatible; feel relational rules have been broken
  • Intractable issues add a difference:
    • Become entrenched in “right and wrong” issues
      • These fundamental assumptions operate below awareness
    • This is “pluralism”
      • The “socio-cultural reality of discrepant worldviews, ideologies, and moral frameworks, existing side by side”
  • We characterize people as other, strange, different from ourselves
    • Fueled by distrust and dislike; self-perpetuating; difficult to bring to any kind of resolution.
social conflict1
Social Conflict
  • Understanding intractable issues
    • When conflicts become too entrenched, participants do not desire communication with the others
      • Resort to static evaluations: name-calling; stereotyping
  • When involved in intractable conflict:
    • We addresses “the choir” eloquently, with elaboration and nuance
    • When address “outsiders” in a simplified and defensive way
      • They become the aggressor, oppressor
      • Violence is sometimes viewed as necessary for self-protection
social conflict2
Social Conflict
  • Intractable issues often involve:
    • States or other actors with a long sense of historical grievance, and a strong desire to redress or avenge
    • A long period of time
    • Intangibles: identity, sovereignty, values, beliefs
    • Polarized perceptions of hostility and enmity
    • Behavior that is violent and destructive
    • Buffer states that exist between major power blocks or civilizations
    • Resistance to management efforts
    • History of failed peacemaking efforts
social conflict3
Social Conflict
  • Silence—ignoring the needs of the other and the other entirely
  • Group-based hatred: when person or group:
    • Seeks to deny person or group their identity
    • Seeks to deny person or group security, or the ability to pursue goals
      • E.g. the homeless seeking shelter, abortion protestors blocking the entrance of clinics
    • Seeks to put themselves ahead of others in the social, political, or economic structure
    • Seeks to control resources in a win–lose conflict
      • Where no expansion of resources is possible (Israel and Palestine example)
social conflict4
Social Conflict
  • Patriotism and nationalism
    • Patriotism: love of one’s country and a willingness to defend it from invaders
    • Nationalism: love of one’s nation as it will be once:
      • It has exterminated all its enemies
      • Becomes totally unified
      • Achieves its “grand purpose” of world-historical destiny
theories of social conflict
Theories of social conflict
  • Critical theory
    • Understanding situations by analyzing power relations between participants
      • Uncover oppression, exploitation, and injustice
    • Oppression: one group or set of groups are able to dominate and exploit another group or set of groups
    • Exploitation: economic, physical, or psychological
    • Injustice: perpetrated by dominant social classes
      • Exploitative wage labor, poverty, homelessness, lack of access to adequate education or health care.
theories of social conflict1
Theories of social conflict
  • Critical theory
    • The primary method of critical theory is praxis. It requires:
      • The conflict mediator to examine his or her own assumptions about the conflict
        • How do values impact the way the conflict is viewed.
      • The conflict mediator to look for ways in which people are allowed access to the expression of ideas on the conflict
        • Is one group allowed better access than the other?
        • Does one group have more resources than the other?
        • Does one group have more right to define the conflict than the other group?
theories of social conflict2
Theories of social conflict
  • Ripeness theory
    • Occurs when conflict participants realize that they are involved in a mutually hurting stalemate
      • Neither can get the advantage, and all actions hurt both self and other)
      • Both recognize a mutually enticing opportunity (both may gain without giving away something of value).
    • Social exchange: emphasize factors that create pain for the participants
      • They need to understand that the status quo will continue to increase pain and suffering
    • Look for factors that can tip the participants toward “ripeness” by making destructive conflict less attractive and peace more so
ways of approaching the other
Ways of Approaching the Other
  • Demonize the other
    • Treating individual or group as someone/something to be feared and eliminated
  • Romanticize the other
    • Consider the other as far superior to ourselves.
  • Colonize the others
    • Treating them as inferior, worthy of pity (perhaps) or (more likely) contempt
  • Generalize the other
    • Treating people as nonindividuals
ways of approaching the other1
Ways of Approaching the Other
  • Trivializethe other
    • Ignoring what makes the other different
      • Not an individual
  • Homogenizethe other
    • Claiming there really is no difference between them and ourselves
      • Not an individual
  • Vaporize the other:
    • Refuse to acknowledge the presence of the other at all (e.g. ignore those who might hand us a leaflet or ask us for money)
  • Embrace the other (readjust our identities)
    • What kind of “self” do I need to be to live in harmony?
managing conflict through nonviolent communication nvc
Managing conflict through nonviolent communication (NVC)
  • NVC: more than just “civil”; desire to help
  • NVC: make observations (not evaluations), state needs, make requests (that allow for a “no”)
    • No judgments, force, or demands)
  • NVC driven by both language AND thinking
    • Compassionate giving (like a spiritual practice: a desire to help others AND ourselves)
effective compliments
Effective Compliments
  • Even saying, “you’re great” is a judgment
    • Often not very effective (may sound like an auto-response)
    • Worthwhile compliments should be very specific and behavioral
  • They identify:
    • The cause: the specific actions that led to the effects
    • The effects:
      • The particular needs of ours that have been fulfilled
      • The good feelings engendered by the fulfillment of those needs
  • Sometimes, a “thank you” is fine, but people appreciate the specifics more
  • Compare:
    • “Wow, thanks a lot!”
    • “Wow, I’m so glad you took time out of your day to walk me through that customer issue. As the new hire, I sure needed some insight from an expert. I feel much less overwhelmed by the job now”
importance of our worldviews
Importance of our worldviews
  • Composite of values, beliefs, and attitudes we hold toward the world
  • Taken-for-granted nature
    • They underlie most intractable issues
    • They blind the participants to alternative views
    • Effect what we observe, how we explain and describe what we observe, and what we believe we should do
      • What is normal, right, wrong?
      • What are people, what is the nature of nature?
      • What is time?
      • How should we live, get what we need?
      • How important are our groups, and in what way?
      • Is there a God? If so, how does that change things?
chapter 16

Chapter 16

Creativity and Conflict

creativity and conflict
Creativity and conflict
  • Creativity: a process of making sense of some problem in a new way
  • Four stages of the creative process:
    • The preparation stage: all previous learning and any information you gather to address the problem
    • The incubation stage: period of thinking about the problem—giving it time to take shape and form
    • The illumination stage: when a particular idea appears in response to the problem
    • The verification stage: testing the creative response to substantiate the new idea
creativity and conflict1
Creativity and conflict
  • Traits of Creative People
    • Very few innate differences
    • Courage: willing to risk failure
      • Allowing for multiple attempts as normal
    • Expressiveness: be ourselves, not fear what (we think) others think of us
    • Humor: helps us put incongruous ideas together and see new relationships
    • Intuition: having faith in what we think is a good idea and how we feel about those ideas.
      • Listening to our “inner voices”
creativity and conflict2
Creativity and conflict
  • Traits of Creative People
    • Learning from successes, mistakes, and failures
      • Not hiding failures from our perception
    • Having fun doing what we do
      • Involves finding fun: a perception, not an objective reality
    • Willing to ask others for help
      • Not restricted by our pride
    • Confidently implementing decisions
      • Without second-guessing ourselves
creativity and conflict3
Creativity and conflict
  • Why is creativity important?
    • More likely to develop mutually satisfying outcomes in conflict situations
    • Health issues
  • Effective, creative decisions require
    • Searching for threats and opportunities in situations
    • Identifying the causes of situations
    • Evaluating the risks of the situation
    • Applying intuition and emotion
    • Taking multiple perspectives (genuinely)
    • Considering the time frame for making the decision
    • Working to solve the problem
creativity and conflict4
Creativity and conflict
  • Misassumptions prevent creativity:
    • Too success orientated due to fear of failure
    • Valuing peer pressure and conformity to much
    • Yielding to sanctions against critical exploration
      • Too much curiosity is disruptive
    • Overemphasis on sex role
    • Assuming “divergent behavior” is “abnormal”
      • Like the genius/madness assumption
    • The work/play dichotomy—work is a burden; play is an end in itself, unrelated to work
creativity and conflict5
Creativity and conflict
  • Creativity can be learned
    • Best if not domain-specific (e.g.: very general approach, like brainstorming)
  • Barriers to Creativity
    • Trained incapacities: when existing talents (good ones) and abilities limit our thinking
      • Too task oriented/goal centered: when it blinds us to the implications of the outcome: give them space to decide
      • Redefinition: if we rely only on what “sounds good”
      • Critical thinking: when seen as an attack, or as “argumentative” (or when it is argumentative)
      • Using objective standards: when it mitigates flexibility, or when we think of them as the “one right way”
creativity as thinking differently
Creativity as Thinking Differently
  • Vertical thinking: series of steps, completing one before the next
  • Lateral thinking: restructuring patterns (insights) and provoking new ones (creativity)
    • Reversal: allow the outcome to drive the process
    • Entry vs. attention area: shift the attention area from entry point (usually the initiation stage) to other areas (e.g. the triggers, the history, etc.)
      • Different perspectives at each attention area
    • Six Hats approach: requires one to ask questions from different vantage points
creativity and conflict6
Creativity and conflict
  • White Hat: information known or needed
    • Who is involved, why, what are the issues, etc.
  • Red Hat: feelings, hunches, and intuition
    • Focus on feelings about the conflict.
  • Yellow Hat: focus on values and beliefs
    • Is solution consistent with the person you believe you are (is it something to be proud of)?
  • Black Hat: the devil’s advocate
  • Green Hat: focus on creativity of viewpoints
  • Blue Hat: macro approach
    • Are all angles conidered? Are there other ways of achieving the same goal? Is the goal worthwhile?
creativity and conflict7
Creativity and conflict
  • Consider mind-mapping process
    • Mind-mapping: like brainstorming
    • Non-linear: no start point
    • Brainstorm conflict concepts, then connect them
    • The visual “map” can lead to new insight
  • Consider visual journaling process
    • Like a visual mind map, but more expressive
    • Image-based response to conflict in our life
    • Allow the free expression to reveal hidden meaning