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SP 215 Small Group Communication Conflict and Cohesion in Groups. Conflict in Groups. Conflict The disagreement and disharmony that occurs in groups when differences are expressed regarding ideas, methods, and/or members. Transform climates leads to managing conflict. What is conflict?. 3.

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conflict in groups
Conflict in Groups


The disagreement and disharmony that occurs in groups when differences are expressed regarding ideas, methods, and/or members


Conflict has been defined by researchers Hocker and Wilmot (1992) as:

“An expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce rewards and interference from the other party in achieving their goals.”



In other words, conflict is “an interruption in harmony.”


conflicts are going to happen in all groups
Conflicts are going to happen in all groups.

It is impossible to avoid. However, conflicts can and are healthy.


conflicts are going to happen in all groups7
Conflicts are going to happen in all groups.

Conflicts enable groups to work out difference.


conflicts are going to happen in all groups8
Conflicts are going to happen in all groups.

Conflict can bring validation of group relationships and emerges with every resolved conflict.


constructive and destructive conflict
Constructive conflict Group members express disagreement in a way that values everyone’s contributions and promotes the group’s goal.

Respect others

Focus on issues

Other: _________

Destructive conflict

Group members create hostility and prevent achievement of the group’s goal.

Insult others

Inflexible and uncooperative

Other: _________

Constructive and Destructive Conflict
avoidance conflict style
Avoidance Conflict Style
  • Members are unable or unwilling to accomplish their own goals or contribute to achieving the group’s goal.
  • Avoidance fails to address the problem and can increase group tensions.
accommodation conflict styles
Accommodation Conflict Styles
  • Members give in to other members at the expense of their own goals.
  • Members believe that giving in helps even when the group would benefit from more analysis and discussion.
competition conflict style
Competition Conflict Style
  • Group members are more concerned with their own goals than with meeting the needs of the group.
  • Competition may be characterized by hostility, ridicule, and personal attacks.
compromise conflict style
Compromise Conflict Style
  • Members give up some goals in order to achieve others.
  • Members accept losses in exchange for gaining something else.
  • Better options may be missed if group only uses this style.
collaboration conflict style
Collaboration Conflict Style
  • Members search for new solutions that will achieve both individual goals and the goals of the group.
  • Effective collaboration requires a lot of time and energy for discussions in which all members fully participate.
selecting a conflict style
Selecting a Conflict Style

Criteria for Selecting a Conflict Style:

  • How important is the issue to you?
  • _______________________________
  • How important is it to maintain positive relationships in the group?
  • How much time does the group have?
  • _______________________________
the 4rs method
The 4Rs Method
  • Reasons. What are the reasons for or causes of the conflict?
  • Reactions. How are group members reacting to one another?
  • Results. What are the consequences of the group’s current approach to the conflict?
  • Resolution. What are the available methods for resolving the conflict?
the a e i o u method
The A-E-I-O-U Method
  • A – Assume the other members mean well.
  • E – Express your feelings.
  • I – Identify what you would like to happen.
  • O – Outcomes you expect are made clear.
  • U – A mutual Understanding is achieved.
  • A process of bargaining in order to settle differences or reach solutions.
  • Principled negotiation:
    • separates people from the problem.
    • focuses on group interests, not positions.
    • generates a variety of possible solutions.
    • insists on objective criteria.
conflict mediation
Conflict Mediation

Employs the services of an impartial third party who guides, coaches, and encourages disputants through negotiation to successful resolution and agreement

William D. Kimsey, Rex M. Fuller, and Bruce C. McKinney, Mediation and Conflict Management: General Mediation Manual

group cohesion
Group Cohesion

Cohesion is the mutual attraction that holds members of a group together

Strategies for enhancing group cohesion:

  • Establish a group identity and traditions.
  • Emphasize teamwork.
  • Recognize and reward contributions.
  • Respect group members.


The deterioration of group effectiveness that results from in-group pressure

  • Highly cohesive groups are at greater risk of succumbing to groupthink.
  • Irving Janis identifies 8 symptoms and expressions of groupthink.
strategies for avoiding groupthink
Strategies for Avoiding Groupthink
  • Ask all members to serve as critical evaluators.
  • Assign several members to work on the same problem independently.
  • Discuss the group’s progress with someone outside the group.
  • Invite an expert to join a meeting and encourage constructive criticism.
  • Before finalizing a decision, give members a second chance to express doubts.
adapting to differences
Adapting to Differences
  • Culture: Members from cultures that value conformity are less likely to express disagreement than those from cultures that place a higher value on individualism.
  • Gender: Women tend to avoid conflict; men and women differ in what is expected of them in conflicts.
context of conflict




Context of Conflict:

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negatives effects of conflict
Depletion of Energy

Close Self Off from Other

Negatives Effects of Conflict:

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positives effects of conflict
Better Understanding

Prevent Festering Hostilities

Reinforces Worth of Group

Positives Effects of Conflict:

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things we fight over
Group Conflict





Relationship – Power or Status

Things we fight over:

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small group conflict
Preparing for Conflict - Before

Try to Fight in Private

Be Sure Everyone is Ready to Fight

Know What You’re Fighting About

Fight about Solvable Problems

Consider Reexamining Beliefs

Small Group Conflict


small group conflict32
Preparing for Conflict - After

Learn from Conflict

Keep Conflict in Perspective

Discuss Feelings with Other(s)

Demonstrate Positive Feelings

Small Group Conflict

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conflicts can be healthy
Conflicts can be healthy:


Are Needed

Can Be Productive

Can Be Rewarding

Can Be Beneficial

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coping principles of workplace conflict
Preserve Dignity and Respect of Members

Listen with Empathy

Seek and Emphasize Common Ground

Value Diversity and Differences

Coping Principles of Workplace Conflict:


small group conflict35
Conflict Management Skills

Win-Lose Strategies

Lose-Lose Strategies

Win-Win Strategies

Small Group Conflict


argument and argumentation
Argument and Argumentation


A claim supported by evidence or reasons for accepting it


The process of advocating a position, analyzing competing ideas, and influencing others

why argue
Why Argue?

Argumentation in Groups

  • Promotes Understanding
  • Promotes Critical Thinking
  • Enhances Persuasion
  • Avoids Groupthink
  • Improves Group Decision Making
  • Argumentativeness is a willingness to argue controversial issues with others.
  • Argumentativeness does not necessarily promote hostility.
  • The argumentative person focuses on discussing issues, not attacking others.
how argumentative are you
How Argumentative Are You?
  • Do you avoid arguments?
  • Are you energetic and enthusiastic when you argue?
  • Does arguing often create more problems for you than it solves?
  • Do feel pleased when you win an argument?
  • When you finish arguing, do you feel nervous or upset?
  • Do you enjoy a good argument?

Dominic Infante and Andrew Rancer’s Argumentativeness Scale

components of the toulmin model of argument
Components of the Toulmin Model of Argument

Three Basic Elements

  • Claim– the conclusion or position you are advocating
  • Data – the evidence you use to support the claim
  • Warrant– your explanation of how the data support and prove the claim
components of the toulmin model of argument43
Components of the Toulmin Model of Argument

Three Additional Elements

  • Backing – provides support for the argument’s warrant
  • Reservation –recognizes exceptions to an argument; indicates that a claim may not be true under certain circumstances
  • Qualifier– states the degree to which the claim appears to be true
the toulmin model
The Toulmin Model







types of supporting evidence
Types of Supporting Evidence
  • Fact: Verifiable observations, experiences, or events known to be true
  • Opinions: Personal conclusions regarding the meaning or interpretation of facts
  • Definitions: Clarify the meaning of a word, phrase, or concept
  • Descriptions: Create a mental image of a person, event, place, or object
supporting evidence
Supporting Evidence
  • Examples: Refer to specific cases or instances
  • Illustrations: Longer, extended example
  • Statistics: Present information in numerical form
powerpoint quiz
PowerPoint Quiz

“This critically acclaimed novel spans six decades in the life of one man.” What kind of supporting material is used in this statement?

  • Fact
  • Opinion
  • Description
  • Example
  • Illustration
powerpoint quiz48
PowerPoint Quiz

“I loved this unique, beautifully written novel. It is a remarkable work marked by startling plot twists and amazing characters.” What kind of supporting material is used in this statement?

  • Fact
  • Opinion
  • Statistic
  • Example
  • Illustration
presenting your arguments
Presenting Your Arguments

Four-step Process

  • State your claim.
  • Present evidence.
  • Provide reasoning.
  • Summarize the argument.
types of claims
Types of Claims

Claims of fact – attempts to prove a truth or to identify a cause

Claim of conjecture- suggests that something will or will not happen

Claims of value – evaluates something’s quality or worth

Claims of policy – recommend a course of action

match the type of claims
Claims of fact

Claim of


C. Claim of value

D. Claim of policy

___ Private schools provide a better education than public schools.

___ Earthquakes will destroy California coastal cities.

___ School uniforms should be required in the local elementary schools.

___ Generic drugs are the same as brand-name drugs.

Match the Type of Claims
refuting arguments
Refuting Arguments


The process of proving that an argument is false and/or lacks sufficient support to justify a conclusion

steps in a refutation
Steps in a Refutation
  • Listen to the argument.
  • State the claim you oppose.
  • Overview your objections.
  • Assess the evidence.
  • Assess the reasoning.
  • Summarize your refutation.
common fallacies of arguments
Common Fallacies of Arguments


An argument based on false or invalid reasoning

  • Ad Hominem – irrelevant attacks against a person’s character
  • Appeal to Authority – the supposed expert has no relevant expertise on the issue
  • Appeal to Popularity – an action is acceptable or excusable because others do it
common fallacies of arguments55
Common Fallacies of Arguments
  • Appeal to Tradition – continuing a certain course of action because it has always been done that way in the past
  • Faulty Analogy – claiming that two things are similar when they differ on relevant characteristics (comparing apples and oranges)
common fallacies of arguments56
Common Fallacies of Arguments
  • Faulty Cause – claiming that a particular event caused another event before ruling out other possible causes
  • Hasty Generalization – Using too few examples or experiences to support a conclusion
powerpoint quiz57
PowerPoint Quiz

What fallacy is evident in the following argument: “I knew I wouldn’t get the job because I broke a mirror the morning of the interview.”

  • ad hominem
  • appeal to authority
  • appeal to tradition
  • faulty analogy
  • faulty cause
powerpoint quiz58
PowerPoint Quiz

Several group members suggest that the community sponsor a winter potluck dinner rather than a summer picnic. Jodi objects because the community has been sponsoring the summer picnic for ten years and should continue to do so. Which fallacy of argument could be attributed to Jodi’s comment?

  • Hasty generalization
  • Appeal to authority
  • Appeal to popularity
  • Appeal to tradition
  • Faulty cause
ethical arguments in groups
Ethical Arguments in Groups
  • Research Responsibility
    • Be prepared to share valid information.
  • Common Good Responsibility
    • Put the group’s goal ahead of winning an argument.
  • Reasoning Responsibility
    • Identify and avoid fallacies.
  • Social Code Responsibility
    • Promote an open and supportive argumentative climate.
match the ethical responsibilities
Ethical Responsibilities


Common Good


Social Codes

__ Support claims with good evidence.

__ Consider the interests of other group members.

__ Do not distort information.

__ Respect established group norms.

Match the Ethical Responsibilities
gender and argumentation
Gender and Argumentation
  • Men tend to be competitive arguers; women are more likely to seek consensus.
  • Men tend to view issues as two-sided; women are more likely to search out different perspectives and options.
culture and argumentation
Culture and Argumentation
  • Cultural differences affect:
    • levels of argumentativeness
    • values that justify claims
    • validity of evidence and reasoning
  • Asians may try to preserve group harmony.
  • American Indian and African cultures may view arguing with elders as disrespectful.
argumentation and emotional intelligence
Argumentation and Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence

The “capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”

Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence regulates the expression of emotions in arguments.

powerpoint quiz64
PowerPoint Quiz

Emotional intelligence can benefit a group’s argumentation because members strive to . . .

  • state arguments in a neutral rather than combative tone.
  • show they are willing to work things out by talking over the issue rather than escalating it.
  • calm down, tune in to their feelings, and be willing to share them with group members.
  • look for an equitable way to resolve the dispute.
  • do all of the above.