Conflict as defined by Floger, Poole, and Stutman is the interaction of interdependent people who perceive incompatible goals and interference from each other in achieving those goals. The word that was reiterated was interdependent. The author states that there cannot be conflict if you do not have interdependent people because the noninterdependent people will give up and walk away. Conflict does not always end in a negative result; there can be productive and positive resolution from conflict as well.
Without interaction there could be no conflict. It takes interdependent people that perceive that their goals are most important and someone else is interfering with them reaching their goals. Perception and interpretation of one’s behaviors and attitudes can cause conflict. A good example the book used was the employee that didn’t want to step one someone’s toes so they were perceived as being cold and distant. The employee probably thought that he was doing his coworker a favor by staying out of his and way and giving him space.
The other coworker perceiving his behavior as cold and distant probably didn’t understand why he was acting cold and distant towards and not only was confused but upset too. The authors did not agree on the old saying “most conflicts are actually communication problems”. The cold and distant coworker may have had a different interest in the situation of the other coworker. His choice might have been to stay distant because it wasn’t his battle and he had not interest in what was going on. Productive conflict is when the behaviors of the conflict can be managed and the parties are willing to negotiate and resolve issues.
It is a relaxed environment and is a realistic conflict where the parties are able to address and resolve incompatibilities (p394). Productive conflict is competitive and both parties have a strong belief and goal they strive for however the outcome is a feeling that both parties have won something. Destructive conflict is the opposite. The parties involved have no intention on negotiating, in fact they will avoid and look for way to defeat and hurt others (p394). Destructive conflict is a nonrealistic conflict and is an expression of aggression (p394). It is a belief that one side must win (p395).
The more productive the conflict the more range of resolutions there are. The interactive behavior in the midst of a conflict can cause the situation to escalate quickly or becoming a cooperative stepping stone. If a supervisor’s behavior when asking an associate to do something caused that associate to have a negative behavior and to respond as so the situation would start to escalate and quickly become a spiral. When commenting during a conflict there are some prediction on what the response will be. If you respond with a positive behavior then the spiral will work cohesively and conflict will be avoided.
Communication Spirals, Paradoxes, and Conundrums by William Wilmot Communication spirals can be negative or positive and pick up momentum that feed back on itself. There are two kinds of spirals generative and degenerative, both have seven features. The seven features are: synergy, individual contributions, symmetrical or complementary pattern, generative or degenerative quality, acceleration, changeability, and impact on relationships. A paradox is a statement that is true, but contradicts one another (p408). The book list twelve relational paradoxes and conundrums that seem unsolvable.
Our relationships never end our perspectives and views of them change as we go through life. Relationships are not a step by step process and are unclear and having an understanding of the complexity is important. There are two types of relational spirals generative and degenerative. A generative spiral produces positive feelings in the relationship. The perceptions of the other person start to become productive and it mutually continues to build and grow. A degenerative spiral is the same thing as a generative spiral on it has negative results. My husband’s cousin just recently came to live with us.
Her mother was in an abusive relationship when she was a child and she ended up being in an abusive relationship herself when she got older. Her mother constantly told her that she would never be anything in life and that she wasn’t smart enough to do anything. She came to live with us to get away from her situation. When she arrived my husband and I sat down with her to discuss things that we expected of her. I got her a job, started to show her how to balance a check book, and gave her constructive criticism on a few areas that she needed to improve on.
We constantly praised her for how smart she was and told her she could do anything she put her mind to. Coming from the life that she did, she had a very low self esteem. The more we showed her the way and praised her for the small steps she was accomplishing the more we have begun to see her take pride in herself and thrive to do so much more. She has been saving for a place of her own and is enrolling in college this fall. When she first arrived she wasn’t very talkative or open to affection. We have noticed the more we love and encourage her the more she starts to come out of her shell.
She is more positive and loving now and she comes home from work telling us all how well she did. I chose this as an example because this is a good example of a generative spiral. Here was this 22 year old girl that was beaten down verbally her entire life and left feeling like she was never going to amount to anything. Now she is making great strides and is excited and eager to continue to make more. She came from a degenerative spiral that was breaking her down mentally. To this day she doesn’t have a very good relationship with her mother because her mother is still in that degenerative spiral and tries to suck her back into it.
The relationship between her and her mother is severely damaged and she has cried and told me that she feels her mother doesn’t love her. After reading this chapter I gave her some advice on altering the degenerative spiral with her mother. To alter a degenerative spiral you must first alter your response and do what comes unnaturally. “Change the pattern and you will change the spiral” (P405). If you are in a conversation that begins name calling stop, don’t call names back as you usually would do. If you are normally quiet, speak out.
Whatever your actions were in the degenerative spiral previously do the opposite. Second, use a third party, mediator, or counselor, etc. A third party will have a different perspective and be able to provide suggestions. Third, reaffirm what you both have to gain from the relationship. By reaffirming common goals can be found. Fourth, talk about what is happening and what is going on with the spiral by metacommunicating. This will encourage a productive conflict management as well as alter the destructive forces in the relationship (p406).
Fifth, if there are issues sometimes spending more time with each other can be helpful. On the other hand sometimes if you have spend too much time with each other taking a moment to spend less time together will recharge yourself. Finally, if exhausting the other steps is not helping you may need to change the external factors such as: switching schools, moving, extended vacations, and retreats etc. People have different time frames when looking at their relationships. To see the change in a spiral you will need to look at and compare to an earlier date. You need to sensitize yourself and make informed choices.
Outsiders and insiders perspectives are both filled with errors. When an outsider to the relationship is observing they rely on external factors when they make their assumptions. Outsiders also judge a little more harshly than they do themselves. They have faulty hypotheses about the intentions of the ones communicating and compensate for the lack of information by using their own theories. Ultimately outsider’s observations are full of over interpretations and errors. Outsiders and insiders are alike; their views are biased and influenced by their own needs and perspectives (p409-410).