Evaluate how passive personality deals with interpersonal conflict

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Crew resource management: improving team work in high reliability industries. Building trust and collaboration in a virtual team. Factors influencing knowledge sharing among global virtual teams. Odds are that you have been in situations where you could answer yes to each of these questions, which underscores the important role context plays in conflict and conflict management styles in particular.

The way we view and deal with conflict is learned and contextual. Is the way you handle conflicts similar to the way your parents handle conflict?

Conflict Management Styles

Research does show that there is intergenerational transmission of traits related to conflict management. As children, we test out different conflict resolution styles we observe in our families with our parents and siblings. If a child has observed and used negative conflict management styles with siblings or parents, he or she is likely to exhibit those behaviors with non—family members.

There has been much research done on different types of conflict management styles, which are communication strategies that attempt to avoid, address, or resolve a conflict. We may instead be caught up in emotion and become reactionary. The strategies for more effectively managing conflict that will be discussed later may allow you to slow down the reaction process, become more aware of it, and intervene in the process to improve your communication. A powerful tool to mitigate conflict is information exchange. Asking for more information before you react to a conflict-triggering event is a good way to add a buffer between the trigger and your reaction.

Another key element is whether or not a communicator is oriented toward self-centered or other-centered goals. In general, strategies that facilitate information exchange and include concern for mutual goals will be more successful at managing conflict. Allan L. The five strategies for managing conflict we will discuss are competing, avoiding, accommodating, compromising, and collaborating. Each of these conflict styles accounts for the concern we place on self versus other see Figure 6. Figure 6. Source: Adapted from M. In order to better understand the elements of the five styles of conflict management, we will apply each to the follow scenario.

The competing Style of conflict management that indicates a high concern for self and a low concern for other, in which one party attempts to win by gaining concessions or consent from another. One way we may gauge our win is by being granted or taking concessions from the other person. The competing style also involves the use of power, which can be noncoercive or coercive.

Evaluate how each of the following personality types deals with interpersonal conflic:

Noncoercive strategies include requesting and persuading. When requesting, we suggest the conflict partner change a behavior. When we persuade, however, we give our conflict partner reasons to support our request or suggestion, meaning there is more information exchange, which may make persuading more effective than requesting. Interpersonal conflict is rarely isolated, meaning there can be ripple effects that connect the current conflict to previous and future conflicts. Competing has been linked to aggression, although the two are not always paired.

If assertiveness does not work, there is a chance it could escalate to hostility. There is a pattern of verbal escalation: requests, demands, complaints, angry statements, threats, harassment, and verbal abuse. Kristen Linnea Johnson and Michael E. Aggressive communication can become patterned, which can create a volatile and hostile environment. The reality television show The Bad Girls Club is a prime example of a chronically hostile and aggressive environment.

If you do a Google video search for clips from the show, you will see yelling, screaming, verbal threats, and some examples of physical violence. The competing style of conflict management is not the same thing as having a competitive personality. In fact, research has shown that some couples engage in competitive shared activities like sports or games to maintain and enrich their relationship.

Kathryn Dindia and Leslie A. And although we may think that competitiveness is gendered, research has often shown that women are just as competitive as men. Susan J. Messman and Rebecca L. However, as we will discuss later, in some cultures that emphasize group harmony over individual interests, and even in some situations in the United States, avoiding a conflict can indicate a high level of concern for the other.

Remember, you cannot not communicate. Even when we try to avoid conflict, we may intentionally or unintentionally give our feelings away through our verbal and nonverbal communication. The avoiding style is either passive or indirect, meaning there is little information exchange, which may make this strategy less effective than others. We may decide to avoid conflict for many different reasons, some of which are better than others. If you view the conflict as having little importance to you, it may be better to ignore it.

If you are not emotionally invested in the conflict, you may be able to reframe your perspective and see the situation in a different way, therefore resolving the issue. For example, avoidance could first manifest as changing the subject, then progress from avoiding the issue to avoiding the person altogether, to even ending the relationship.

Indirect strategies of hinting and joking also fall under the avoiding style. While these indirect avoidance strategies may lead to a buildup of frustration or even anger, they allow us to vent a little of our built-up steam and may make a conflict situation more bearable.

Evaluate how personality deals with interpersonal conflict passive

When we hint, we drop clues that we hope our partner will find and piece together to see the problem and hopefully change, thereby solving the problem without any direct communication. Passive-aggressive behavior is a way of dealing with conflict in which one person indirectly communicates their negative thoughts or feelings through nonverbal behaviors, such as not completing a task. Although passive-aggressive behavior can feel rewarding in the moment, it is one of the most unproductive ways to deal with conflict.

Respond to this Question

These behaviors may create additional conflicts and may lead to a cycle of passive-aggressiveness in which the other partner begins to exhibit these behaviors as well, while never actually addressing the conflict that originated the behavior. In most avoidance situations, both parties lose.

However, as noted above, avoidance can be the most appropriate strategy in some situations—for example, when the conflict is temporary, when the stakes are low or there is little personal investment, or when there is the potential for violence or retaliation. The context for and motivation behind accommodating play an important role in whether or not it is an appropriate strategy.

Generally, we accommodate because we are being generous, we are obeying, or we are yielding.

Inter-Personal Conflicts: Two Examples

Research has shown that the accommodating style is more likely to occur when there are time restraints and less likely to occur when someone does not want to appear weak. Deborah A. Cai and Edward L. As with avoiding, there are certain cultural influences we will discuss later that make accommodating a more effective strategy. In essence, when we compromise, we give up some or most of what we want. Compromising may be a good strategy when there are time limitations or when prolonging a conflict may lead to relationship deterioration.

Compromise may also be good when both parties have equal power or when other resolution strategies have not worked. Compromising may help conflicting parties come to a resolution, but neither may be completely satisfied if they each had to give something up. A negative of compromising is that it may be used as an easy way out of a conflict. The compromising style is most effective when both parties find the solution agreeable.

They are both giving up something, and if neither of them have a problem with taking their lunch to work, then the compromise was equitable. The obvious advantage is that both parties are satisfied, which could lead to positive problem solving in the future and strengthen the overall relationship. The disadvantage is that this style is often time consuming, and only one person may be willing to use this approach while the other person is eager to compete to meet their goals or willing to accommodate. While having a roommate offers many benefits such as making a new friend, having someone to experience a new situation like college life with, and having someone to split the cost on your own with, there are also challenges.

Some common roommate conflicts involve neatness, noise, having guests, sharing possessions, value conflicts, money conflicts, and personality conflicts. Read the following scenarios and answer the following questions for each one:. Scenario 1: Neatness. Your college dorm has bunk beds, and your roommate takes a lot of time making his bed the bottom bunk each morning.


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While he is away for the weekend, your friend comes to visit and sits on the bottom bunk bed. You tell him what your roommate said, and you try to fix the bed back before he returns to the dorm. When he returns, he notices that his bed has been disturbed and he confronts you about it. Scenario 2: Noise and having guests. Your roommate has a job waiting tables and gets home around midnight on Thursday nights. She often brings a couple friends from work home with her. They watch television, listen to music, or play video games and talk and laugh. You have an 8 a.

Last Friday, you talked to her and asked her to keep it down in the future. Scenario 3: Sharing possessions. When you go out to eat, you often bring back leftovers to have for lunch the next day during your short break between classes. Scenario 4: Money conflicts. Your roommate got mono and missed two weeks of work last month. Since he has a steady job and you have some savings, you cover his portion of the rent and agree that he will pay your portion next month. The next month comes around and he informs you that he only has enough to pay his half.

Scenario 5: Value and personality conflicts. You like to go out to clubs and parties and have friends over, but your roommate is much more of an introvert. One day she tells you that she wants to break the lease so she can move out early to live with one of her friends. If you break the lease, you automatically lose your portion of the security deposit. Culture is an important context to consider when studying conflict, and recent research has called into question some of the assumptions of the five conflict management styles discussed so far, which were formulated with a Western bias.

John Oetzel, Adolfo J. While there are some generalizations we can make about culture and conflict, it is better to look at more specific patterns of how interpersonal communication and conflict management are related. We can better understand some of the cultural differences in conflict management by further examining the concept of face. Our face The projected self we desire to put into the world. Face negotiation theory Theory that argues people in all cultures negotiate face through communication encounters, and that cultural factors influence how we engage in facework, especially in conflicts.

John G. These cultural factors influence whether we are more concerned with self-face or other-face and what types of conflict management strategies we may use. One key cultural influence on face negotiation is the distinction between individualistic and collectivistic cultures.

The distinction between individualistic and collectivistic cultures is an important dimension across which all cultures vary. Individualistic cultures Culture that emphasizes individual identity over group identity and encourages competition and self-reliance. Collectivistic cultures Culture that values in-group identity over individual identity and values conformity to social norms of the in-group.

Mararet U. Dsilva and Lisa O. However, within the larger cultures, individuals will vary in the degree to which they view themselves as part of a group or as a separate individual, which is called self-construal. Independent self-construal indicates a perception of the self as an individual with unique feelings, thoughts, and motivations.

Interdependent self-construal indicates a perception of the self as interrelated with others. Not surprisingly, people from individualistic cultures are more likely to have higher levels of independent self-construal, and people from collectivistic cultures are more likely to have higher levels of interdependent self-construal.

Self-construal and individualistic or collectivistic cultural orientations affect how people engage in facework and the conflict management styles they employ. Self-construal alone does not have a direct effect on conflict style, but it does affect face concerns, with independent self-construal favoring self-face concerns and interdependent self-construal favoring other-face concerns.

There are specific facework strategies for different conflict management styles, and these strategies correspond to self-face concerns or other-face concerns. Research done on college students in Germany, Japan, China, and the United States found that those with independent self-construal were more likely to engage in competing, and those with interdependent self-construal were more likely to engage in avoiding or collaborating. And in general, this research found that members of collectivistic cultures were more likely to use the avoiding style of conflict management and less likely to use the integrating or competing styles of conflict management than were members of individualistic cultures.

The following examples bring together facework strategies, cultural orientations, and conflict management style: Someone from an individualistic culture may be more likely to engage in competing as a conflict management strategy if they are directly confronted, which may be an attempt to defend their reputation self-face concern. Someone in a collectivistic culture may be more likely to engage in avoiding or accommodating in order not to embarrass or anger the person confronting them other-face concern or out of concern that their reaction could reflect negatively on their family or cultural group other-face concern.

While these distinctions are useful for categorizing large-scale cultural patterns, it is important not to essentialize or arbitrarily group countries together, because there are measurable differences within cultures. Culture always adds layers of complexity to any communication phenomenon, but experiencing and learning from other cultures also enriches our lives and makes us more competent communicators. Conflict is inevitable and it is not inherently negative. A key part of developing interpersonal communication competence involves being able to effectively manage the conflict you will encounter in all your relationships.

One key part of handling conflict better is to notice patterns of conflict in specific relationships and to generally have an idea of what causes you to react negatively and what your reactions usually are. Much of the research on conflict patterns has been done on couples in romantic relationships, but the concepts and findings are applicable to other relationships. Four common triggers for conflict are criticism, demand, cumulative annoyance, and rejection. Andrew Christensen and Neil S. Comments do not have to be meant as criticism to be perceived as such. Gary, however, may take the comment personally and respond negatively back to his mom, starting a conflict that will last for the rest of his visit.

Demands also frequently trigger conflict, especially if the demand is viewed as unfair or irrelevant. Tone of voice and context are important factors here. As we discussed earlier, demands are sometimes met with withdrawal rather than a verbal response. If you are doing the demanding, remember a higher level of information exchange may make your demand clearer or more reasonable to the other person.

If you are being demanded of, responding calmly and expressing your thoughts and feelings are likely more effective than withdrawing, which may escalate the conflict. Cumulative annoyance is a building of frustration or anger that occurs over time, eventually resulting in a conflict interaction. For example, your friend shows up late to drive you to class three times in a row. Criticism and demands can also play into cumulative annoyance. We have all probably let critical or demanding comments slide, but if they continue, it becomes difficult to hold back, and most of us have a breaking point.

The problem here is that all the other incidents come back to your mind as you confront the other person, which usually intensifies the conflict. A good strategy for managing cumulative annoyance is to monitor your level of annoyance and occasionally let some steam out of the pressure cooker by processing through your frustration with a third party or directly addressing what is bothering you with the source. No one likes the feeling of rejection.


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Vulnerability is a component of any close relationship. When we care about someone, we verbally or nonverbally communicate. We may tell our best friend that we miss them, or plan a home-cooked meal for our partner who is working late.


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