When we attempt to communicate interpersonally, there’s always the possibility that instead
of mutual understanding we may generate conflict, whether that’s what we aim to do or not.
This chapter helps us examine how conflict can impact interpersonal communication, and what actions we can take to manage or resolve conflict. Conflict is defined as the struggle that happens when people have incompatible goals, wants, demands or needs. You learn about the different types of conflict such as structural, relational or interactional. Five phases of conflict are examined including: prelude, triggering event, initiation, differentiation, and resolution. Understanding the phases helps you to take a step back from a conflict situation to determine how to make better choices that enhance interpersonal communication instead of further fuel conflict. Also important is understanding some of the different reactions to conflict. Some of these reactions help to diffuse the situation, for example, postponing, fogging or coalition
forming. You’ll also gain knowledge about approaches like gunnysacking, backstabbing or threats that can make the conflict worse. Learning about the approaches typically used in managing conflict helps you identify your own conflict management style. These styles include competing, collaborating, controlling, accommodating and avoiding. You will also learn about group conflict resolution strategies and how to deal with challenging people. Active listening behaviours and techniques such as bracketing and mnemonics are also reviewed. As discussed in previous chapters and modules, active listening is a key tool
in your interpersonal communication arsenal. Last but not least you will learn about how the North American-style business etiquette can be used to prevent or reduce conflict while enhancing the potential for good interpersonal communication. Once you’ve been able to define and identify the different types and phases of conflict,
you then can develop skill in understanding how to manage and resolve conflict using tools like active listening and business etiquette. At the end of this chapter, you should be
more confident and better rehearsed in your conflict management skills for better interpersonal communication.