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Managing COnflict

Tags: conflict

Conflict is the interaction of interdependent people who perceive incompatible goals and interference from each other in achieving those goals.Conflicts occur in all social settings. Interpersonal Conflict is a disagreement between or among connected individuals. Each persons position affects the other by emphasizing the transactional nature. How you view conflict can strongly affect the way you deal with it. For example, many people view conflict as always painful. From this point of view, unless you enjoy being blamed, put down, and shouted at, its hard to be positive about conflicts; however, if you see conflict as something entirely negative, you will behave accordingly and will probably help create a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you believe its awful the worse it will get. Conflicts are often said to be beneficial. Some potential positive functions of conflicts: conflicts allow important issues to be aired; they produce new and creative ideas; they release built-up tension; they can strengthen relationships; they can cause groups and organizations to re-evaluate and clarify goals and missions; and they can also stimulate social change to eliminate inequities and injustices. These advantages are raised to justify a normal healthy occurrence and to stress the importance of understanding and handling it properly. Everyone has conflicts and almost everyone readily acknowledges at least some benefits. Negative views of conflict tend to persist in the twists and turns of a specific case.

Several features in common with destructive conflict that might easily turn in a destructive direction: First the situation the situation is tense and threatening. Even for old hands of negotiation, conflicts are often unpleasant and frightening. Second, participants are experiencing a great deal of uncertainty. Conflicts are confusing; actions can have consequences quite different from those intended because the situation is more complicated then assumed. Third, the situation is extremely fragile. The conflict may evolve in very different ways depending on the behavior of just a single person. Sometimes we walk a tight rope throughout the conflict, yet we manage to avoid a fall. The tension, unpleasantness, uncertainty and fragility of the conflict situations make them hard to face. Entering a conflict is often like making a bet against the odds; you can win big if the odds are in your favor, but so many things can go wrong that few people are willing to chance it. This is why we feel compelled to remind others of positive conflict outcomes because too often the destructive results are all we remember.
The key to working through conflicts, is not to minimize its disadvantages, emphasize its positive functions, but to accept both and try to understand how conflicts move in destructive or productive directions. The most important feature of conflict is interaction. Conflict interactions take many forms, and each form presents special problems and requires special handling. The type of interaction that most of us our familiar with involves shouting matches and competition in which each party tries to defeat the other. But conflicts can also be subtler. Most peoples reactions are to suppress it. They avoid confrontations either because they are afraid of possible changes that may result or because it simply isnt worth fighting over. This response is as much a part of the conflict process as the open struggle associated with conflict.

In distinguishing the differences between productive and destructive conflict interactions. One difference is that productive conflicts realistic, which means they focus on substantive problem the parties can potentially solve, while nonrealistic conflicts are mainly expressions of aggression designed to defeat or hurt the other. The attitudes and behaviors of productive conflict are flexible, while destructive ones are inflexible. Every move made in a conflict has impact on the other parties, and this is why conflicts often degenerate into destructive cycles of patterns. These cycles can only be thought of as unified wholes, and they can often be self-reinforcing. This means that, if you want to mange conflict effectively, you have to (1) look for the cycles, and (2) be willing and able to take unilateral action to break the destructive pattern.
Defensive behavior usually occurs when you anticipate or perceive being threatened by a person or situation. When any combination of the six defensive producing elements of evaluation, control, strategy, neutrality, superiority, and certainty is present, a spiral, usually begins, a spiral that starts with a little discomfort and often escalates into all-out conflict. On the other hand, you can also start a spiral in the other direction. The more supportive you can be, the less other people are likely to read into the situation distorted reactions created by their own defensiveness. You can help reduce defensiveness that is present when you manifest any combination of the six alternative attitudes and skills of description, problem orientation, spontaneity, empathy, equality, and provisionalism. You dont have to give up or give in. You just have to stop trying so hard to demean, control, and impose your hard- and- fast superiority on others. By learning that sometimes it’s our own transparently manipulative behavior that creates defensiveness in others, we are one step closer to communicating interpersonally. They could run the risk of miscalculation if the parties do not take into account the spirals. However, it is impossible to calculate all the possibilities. At best people have extremely limited knowledge of the implications their actions hold for others, and their ability to manage conflicts is therefore curtailed.
To view communication as a people process rather than as a language process is one way to understand communication better. If we are to make fundamental improvements in communication, we must make changes in interpersonal relationships. One possible type of alteration is that of reducing the degree of defensiveness.

In correlation with the comparison between the way, that most conflicts are settled and the way spilled ketchup settles into carpet. An unclean carpet can triple in weight within a couple of years, and most relationships get so laden with undigested arguments that they collapse into a somber, angry stupor and cease to move toward their original goal. For the most part to merely resolve issues in the usual manner is as damaging to a relationship as not resolving it at all, because the gap is not truly bridged and the unsuccessful attempt merely adds more weight to the couples doubts about each other. Looking at this it is no wonder arguments create more problems than solved.The next important point is that the way discussions are carried out defines the quality of the couples relationship. How an argument happens is more important than the outcome that emerges. The process is literally more important than the product. In order to be able to contrast the main features of productive and destructive conflict we have the seven magic rules for ruining any discussion that we all have probably used at one time or the other. They are bringing the matter up when at least one of you is angry, being as personal as possible when setting forth the problem, concentrating on getting what you want, instead of listening thinking only of what you will say next, Correcting anything your partner says about you, mentioning anything from the past that has a chance of making your partner defensive and ending by saying that will never be forgotten.For an issue to be resolved it must be passed through the five stages of preparing an argument. First, it must be thought of by at least one of the partners as an issue. Second, a moment is chosen to bring the matter up. Third, a decision is made as to the manner in which it will be presented. Fourth, there is an exchange of thoughts and feelings. And fifth, the discussion is concluded. You must become more conscious of the subjects you bring up so carelessly. Any sign of fear over what you are about to say is a very useful indicator. If you see you have a question about whether to say it, let this be your cue to break these preliminary choices into conscious steps. Remember instead how strongly you want to begin building a real friendship and do not begrudge the time.

Most people are obsessed with identifying the culprit who is responsible for a dispute. However, determining who is at fault is an impossible task. This process requires that identifying who and what sets you off, understand the causes and origins of your entrenched patterns, and work through your discomfort until you are willing to accept greater responsibility for your troubles. You not taking responsibility by accepting blame yourself instead of blaming the other person. There is a tendency to sidestep responsibility for what has happened before and what continues to take place in the conflicted relationship. Constructing a list of excuses, preferably as long as possible, is part of the strategy for avoiding responsibility and being let off the hook. To deny your share of responsibility in any conflict us clearly a distortion of reality. As with any self-respecting mechanism, blaming others for misdeeds allows you to maintain a positive self-image in light of attacks perceived as threatening. While trying to explain one’s action by appealing to some greater good is not the same as denying one’s responsibility for creating a conflict. Another means by which to disown responsibility is to focus on the issue of intentionally: you may have done it, but you did not mean to. To imply that you were coerced into acting this way simply put you had no choice; you were forced to do it is a third possible response. However, each of these denials will only be employed when responsibility can be proven. The first choice is to always deny that you had anything to do with the situation in the first place. To blame others is counterproductive, but can be just as destructive as blaming you. Instead of dwelling on who is at fault your time would be better spent accepting responsibility for overcoming the problem and taking charge and working through it.
On the other hand, transcendent discourse suspends or condemnation blaming, aims at probing rather than persuading, and is designed to compare and critique rather than to win. One important feature of transcendent discourse is that, when applied to stubborn moral conflicts, it is not designed to resolve the issues but to humanize the ways in which they are engaged. Eloquence is the representation of the highest form of expression within the frame of rules adopted by society. Transcendent eloquence has five general characteristics; it is (1) philosophical, (2) comparative, (3) dialogic, (4) critical, and (5) transformative. Communicating in this manner is philosophical in that it surfaces and deals with basic assumptions. It is comparative in that it tries to find ways to compare what look like mutually exclusive systems or options. The fact that its purpose its to explore rather than convince or persuade means it dialogic. Transcendent eloquences fourth characteristic is that it is critical, which means that it exposes the powers and limits of each side in a controversy. And the final feature is that it is transformative, which is to say that it reconstructs the context in which the conflict is to be understood.This alters the container in which communication happens.
However, understanding that transcendent behavior is not a method for resolving moral conflicts, thinking they are neutral ground without values, blindly realistic and not a remedy for all situations. Transcendent discourse is worthy of consideration as a response to a moral conflict. By realizing the limits of our own philosophical assumptions we will find the ability to disagree without silencing the other side through repression, injury and pain or death. Even though this type of discourse is uncommon it does have value and needs to be nourished because it perhaps is the only honest basis for hope.
The situation that I am writing deals with the divorce of my parents. My name is Kangelia and I am a 13-year old, first born of college-educated parents. My parents marriage was in great distress, and separation was eminent. A pleasant, sociable, and slightly underweight adolescent, I performed above average academically and had no reported difficulties in school. Recently, however, interactions with peers had become increasingly volatile. In addition to the early teenage fickleness of friendships and the competition for male attention, I seemed to react excessively to teasing, namecalling, gossip, and social ostracism that occurred frequently in my shifting peer group. When provoked, I would curse and scream at the other girls in school, and on several occasions I pushed or pulled hair to get back at someone perceived as being against me.

Following a history of contrariness and stubborn opposition to parental directives, I was becoming increasingly more difficult for my mother to manage without the consistent support of my father. With my self-centered adolescent perspective I had begun to use my parents deteriorating marital situation to my own advantage. I made unreasonable demands of one parent, displayed temper tantrum-like behavior when my demands were not met, and, finally, manipulated the other parent to get my way. My coercive behavior escalated a number of times from verbal freshness and cursing to physical attacks on my mother. My anger and aggression occurred when I did not receive desired objects, when food was not prepared as desired, and when my mother refused for complete academic or household tasks for me. Another escalating chain of events occurred when I lied to my mother, about having taken money and clothing, and my mother confronted me. I responded with aversive verbalizations directed toward my mothers attempt to catch me in a lie.

My parents and younger brother responded to my tantrums with screaming and threats of their own, until someone either was hurt or left the house. In most cases, having my demands met (in the short run, at least) reinforced my outbursts. Thus, I felt justified in fighting for what I wanted, and I saw myself as the victor. However, long-term consequences included continued anger and resentment on the part of all family members, deterioration in family communication and problem solving and subtle emotional rejection in family affective relationships.

I denied that I had any difficulties, and maintained that I was simply responding to the uncalled for provocations of others. Nevertheless, I agreed to therapy in order to have someone to talk to about the divorce. Although the marital situation reinforced a distorted attribution of blame for my negative behavior patterns, the therapist accepted this initial premise for treatment to establish a working alliance.

My symptoms captured conflict at the heart: a pattern of negativistic, hostile and defiant behavior, without the more serious violations of the basic rights, which are seen in conduct behavior disorder. Other criteria of conflict I met included: argumentative with adults, frequent temper loss, swearing, often angry and resentful, defiance of adult rules and requests, and a tendency to blame others for my own mistakes or difficulties. The manifestation of defensive behavior was very prevalent in my family and social relationships because of the hostile and opposition attitudes that I betrayed. Similarly, I was also guilty of features associated with conduct disorder that included threatening and cruel behaviors, bullying, manipulation of others, intimidation and confrontational behaviors, disobeyance of parental rules and so on.This situation could have been successful if I had successfully tried to work through my conflict by minimizing the disadvantages, an emphasizing the positive fact that at least I still had my parents even if they were separated. Now that I look at it instead of suppressing the emotions and/or problems resulting from my parents separation I should have discussed it. I was causing more of a problem by trying to avoid the problem instead of accepting it, dealing with and moving on. Merely by realizing the limits of my own philosophical assumptions although I disagreed with the divorce things would not have turned out the way they did.

However, I know now that, I had a greater, exaggerated fear about spilling the ketchup in my relationship with my mom and dad. I should really try to avoid future confrontations and detour my anger through out relationships by talking instead of suppressing and allowing my parents to know first of all that I love and appreciate them, and most of all that I respect them. I am truly that glad that my parents actually listened to the scripture and did train up their child in the way I should go; and that most of all I did not stray from it. There was hope for me after all. I was able to use therapy to help adjust to my present family life situation, and provide a solid basis for a healthy relationship.

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Managing COnflict


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