Main Take Away Lessons
Conflicts are expressed struggles between at least two interdependent parties who derive scarce rewards, incompatible goals and interference from each other in attaining their goals (Adler, Rodman and du Pre, 2016, p. 215). In order to avert conflicts in communication and in workplaces, it is crucial to improve interpersonal relationships. In this regard, there are certain concepts of communication and interpersonal relationships that are critical to improving to improving the latter such as:
- Communication climate is defined by Adler, Rodman and du Pre (2017, p. 216) as emotional tone of a relationship as it is displayed in the messages that the partners receive and send. As such, certain communication climates are warm and fair while others are cold and stormy.
- Confirming messages are messages in the form of words and actions that either evince that a person is valued or he or she values another person through the respect shown by either party. Confirming message are normally displayed by showing recognition, recognizing a person’s feelings and thoughts and showing that you agree with the other party (Adler, Rodman and du Pre, 2016, p. 218-219).
- Disconfirming Messages on the other hand, refer to actions and words that evince a lack of veneration or caring for another individual. In other words, it is the act of denying the value of other people. According to Adler, Rodman and du Pre (2017, p. 220) disconfirming messages are normally expressed in the form of partners evincing contempt, partners criticizing each other, partners being defensive and partners engaging in stonewalling.Interpersonal Relationships
- Self-perpetuating spirals such as relational spirals, escalatory spirals and avoidance spirals are a prominent aspect of how communication climates develop. A relational spiral refers to a reciprocal communication pattern whereby each individual’s message reinforces the other’s message. Adler, Rodman and du Pre (2017, p. 222) define escalatory spiral as the most visible way that disconfirming messages reinforce each other and one attack results in another until a skirmish unfolds , while avoidance spiral entails parties gradually withdrawing from each other, reducing their dependence on one another and becoming less invested in the relationship.
- Assertive communication is a form of communication that directly expresses the sender’s thoughts, needs or feelings, relayed in a way that does not attack the receiver.
- According to Adler, Rodman and du Pre (2017, p. 227), the characteristics of an assertive message include: describing the demeanor in question, sharing one’s interpretation of another person’s demeanor, describing one’s feelings, describing the consequences and stating one’s intentions.Interpersonal Relationships
- Gender and conflict style also impact interpersonal relationships. For instance, men and women face discordant conflict dilemmas. As Adler, Rodman and du Pre (2017, p. 231) state, women tend to experience double standard in that they may be judged more harshly than their male counterparts if they are assertive , but may also end being overlooked if they are not. Moreover, women are more likely to utilize indirect strategies of confronting conflict and compromise to maintain relational harmony than men. Notwithstanding, similar qualities between men and women far outnumber their differences, for example, women and men are roughly the same when it comes to the extent of closeness they desire in relationships and value placed on sharing feelings and ideas.
- According to Adler, Rodman and du Pre (2017, p. 231) cultural differences also influence conflict in that the assertive approach frequent on European American disagreements may not be the same in other cultures, for instance, in the African American culture where there is greater tolerance for expressions of intense emotions.
- Conflicts in online have revolutionized the way people engage in and handle interpersonal conflicts. These disagreements handled through chatting, blogging, texting and email tend to have characteristics such as dis-inhibition, delay and permanence.
- I find the methods of interpersonal conflict resolution that Adler, Rodman and du Pre (2017, p. 234-235) outline to be quite insightful. These include: win-lose problem solving whereby one party attains his or her goal at the expense of the other party, lose-lose problem solving whereby neither party attains its goals, compromise whereby both parties achieve at least part of what they seek by giving something up, and win-win problem solving whereby the parties work together to satisfy all their goals.
How they affect my communication-interpersonal Relationships
Interpersonal communications can be quite tricky since there are a lot of thoughts, emotions and feelings involved. Like most people, I prefer getting confirming messages in my communication and relationship with other parties. Initially, when I used to get disconfirming messages from other parties, I would contemplate that as an intentional move and go into full avoidance spiral mode whereby I disassociate myself from them gradually until we stop communicating altogether. Nonetheless, with exposure to different situations as I continue to grow old and meet discordant people, I have learnt how to handle criticism better and comprise rather than always disagree and force people to see things my way.
From experience, it is true that women face double standard when it comes to interpersonal communications and relationships. People tend to judge them harshly when they are assertive. However, this seems to have changed in most developed nations whereby women are encouraged to be assertive. Ultimately, both men and women desire relatively the same level of closeness in interpersonal relationships. Cultural differences have played the biggest role in my interpersonal relationships and how I manage interpersonal conflicts. I express a combination of conflict resolution styles from my culture and upbringing with those of American and European cultures in the way I handle conflicts including online conflicts. Based on this understanding, my go-to conflict resolutions in most personal and workplaces situations are win-win problem solving and compromise. Nonetheless, there are certain situations whereby I am forced to win-lose and lose-lose problem solving, especially when amicable talks between the party and I have amounted to naught.
Relation of videos and readings to my professional life in education-interpersonal Relationships
The portion of this week’s readings that resonates most with my professional life is the steps in win-win problem. Having gone through the steps, I realized that I apply them in my problem solving techniques albeit not in the particular order as outlined by Adler, Rodman and du Pre (2017, p. 237-239). My intention in most conflicts is to come up with a win-win resolution. As such, I identify the problem, consider the needs or goals to be met, describe my needs and problems, confirm that the other party understands my needs and problems, ask the party for his or her needs and problems, confirm that I understand the other party’s problems, proceeds to discuss ways of meeting our common goals and follow up on the solution.
Some of the steps I use in my win-win problem solving are visible in the PBS: Conflict Resolution videos. The videos have also enlightened me in how to turn dead-end situations where I reckon only lose-lose or win-lose problem solving can apply into win-win problem solving situations. The fact that these conflict resolutions entail interpersonal relationships at the workplace renders it easier for me to relate them to my professional life. Some of the confirming messages I identified from the clips are people agreeing with the other parties and recognizing their thoughts and feelings. With regard to disconfirming messages, the defensive nature of some parties and their display of contempt and criticism are also evident in the clips.Interpersonal Relationships
Adler, R., Rodman, G., & du Pre, A. (2016). Understanding Human Communication (13th ed.). Oxford University Press.