Chapter 11: Interpersonal Conflict

Which of your relationships contain the most conflict right now? Your answer to this question probably depends on the various contexts in your life. If you live with family, you may have daily conflicts as you try to balance your autonomy with the practicalities of living under your family’s roof. Or if you live with friends, you may be negotiating roommate conflicts. You probably also have experiences managing conflict in romantic relationships and in the workplace. Think back and ask yourself, “How well do I handle conflict?” As with all areas of communication, we can improve if we have the background knowledge to identify relevant communication phenomena and the motivation to reflect on and enhance our communication skills. In this chapter, we will define interpersonal conflict, describe common conflict approaches, and explain how to be more competent when it comes to more effectively managing conflict in our lives.

Essential Questions:

  • What is conflict, and what are some of the different ways we behave in conflict situations?
  • How can we approach conflict effectively, and why is it important?

Successful students will be able to:

  • define conflict
  • explain the importance of effective conflict management
  • identify five conflict styles
  • demonstrate effective strategies for approaching and responding to conflict
  • demonstrate effective apologies
  • recognize how culture affects perceptions of conflict approaches
  • identify four conflict triggers

  • Sections 11.3.1: Interpersonal Communication Abridged Textbook (I.C.A.T.); Central New Mexico Community College; 2019; CC BY NC SA 4.0
  • Sections 11.1 – 11.2.5, & 11.3.3: adapted from Communication in the Real World: An Introduction to Communication Studies; University of Minnesota; 2016; CC BY NC SA 4.0
  • 11.0 & 11.3.2: adapted from A Primer on Communication Studies (v. 1.0); CC BY NC SA 3.0
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