PACS 202 - Midterm Notes.docx

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University of Waterloo
Peace and Conflict Studies
PACS 202
Betty Pries

Midterm Notes (1) The Nature of Conflict Why Study Conflict - It’s a basic human requirement and practice of constructive conflict is an essential set of interpersonal skills - Can assist in process of redrawing family boundaries, seeing what works and what does not - Depression affects one’s personal relationships and results in millions of dollars lost in workplace due to missed days, plus medical and counselling costs - What determines the course of a relationship is usually determined by how successfully participants move through conflict episodes - In marriage, couples who stay together and enter conflict gently, making repairs on the way when they hurt each other, avoid criticizing and blaming, and avoid criticizing each other when they know it hurts - Presence or absence of conflict does not determine quality of marriage (relationship), it’s how you handle conflict that determines that - Family of origin socializes use into constructive/destructive ways of handling conflict that carry over directly into how romantic relationships are later handled o Negative conflict between parents reduces family’s network of friends = loneliness o Changes moods of household interactions o Shift towards negative behaviours of children o Ongoing conflict at home has greater impact on kids than divorce o Children’s attitudes towards marriage are directly affected by the nature of conflict between their parents - Couples that never engage in conflict are at long-term risk o Unresolved conflicts leads to drifting away from each other o How you engage in conflict directly affects romantic relationships o Mental health will be improved when you know how to handle conflicts constructively - Ongoing, unresolved workplace conflicts also had negative effects that read far beyond the principle parties o i.e. when doctors and nurses have conflicts, patient can suffer - We study conflict because life is full of paradox o Allows us to juggle more than one possible idea at a time, leaves us more open minded - Conflict is not different from regular communication but is a part of the ongoing flow of the communication between human beings Defining Conflict - “A struggle over values and claims to scarce status, power, and resources in which the aims of the opponents are to neutralize, injure, or eliminate rivals” - Used to be viewed as only a win-lose situation - Conflict exists whenever incompatible activities occur; an action which obstructs, prevents, interferes, in some way makes resolution less likely or effective - May be seen as: o Mild differences o Disagreement o Dispute o Campaign o Litigation o Fight or war - Perception is at the core of all conflict analysis - Intrapersonal conflict – internal strain that creates a state of ambivalence, conflicting internal dialogue, or lack of resolution in one’s thinking and feeling – accompanies interpersonal conflict - Conflict exists when the parties involved agree in some way that the behaviours associated with their relationship are labeled as ‘conflict’ behaviour - Intrapersonal perceptions are the foundation upon which conflicts are built; but only when there are communicative manifestations of these perceptions will an “interpersonal conflict” emerge  Communication behaviour often creates conflict  Communication behaviour reflects conflict  Communication is the vehicle for the productive or destructive management of conflict - Most expressed struggles become activated by a triggering event Interdependence - Conflict parties engage in an expressed struggle and interfere with one another because they are interdependent (they rely on each other) o Each person’s choices affect the other because conflict is a mutual activity; people are seldom totally opposed to each other - No one party in a conflict can make a decision that is totally separate – each decision affect the other conflict participants o Interdependence carries elements of cooperation and elements of competition - Most relationships move between states of independence and interdependence Perceived Incompatible Goals - People usually engage in conflict over goals that are important to them - Opposing goals are a fact o life o Many are convinced that opposing goals mean that they cannot agree on anything o If you reframe the goals, the likelihood of reaching a conclusion that is agreeable is much higher - Goals are perceived as incompatible because parties want: o The same thing  Want the same goal, but there “isn’t enough to go around” (i.e. scholarships, promotions, etc) o Different things  I want black, you want white Perceived Scarce Sources - Resource: any positively perceived physical, economic or social consequence o May be objectively real or perceived as real by the person (i.e. friendships or water) - Most appropriate behaviour is to attempt to change the other person’s perception of the resource instead of trying to reallocate the resource - In interpersonal conflicts, two resources often perceived as scarce are power and self-esteem Interference - Interference (or perception of it) can be necessary to complete the conditions for conflict o Conflict is associated with blocking, and person doing the blocking can be perceived as the problem - Being blocked and interfered with is a disturbing experience and our first reaction is usually anger and blame Destructive Conflict - Conflict is potentially costly to all parties and those costs can exceed the gains - When all participants are not happy with outcomes of conflict, conflict is classified as destructive - Win-lose situation - The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse o Criticizing o Defensiveness o Stonewalling o Contempt - When a conflict begins with a critical statement, that conflict will escalate quickly, and will have a destructive effect  Constructive Complaint:  Uses an “I” statement  Describes the undesirable behaviour  Uses neutral, not judgemental language  Asks for a specific change  A destructive complaint includes blame and the notion that there is something wrong with the person themselves, not the behaviour that they are doing Defensiveness - Defensive communication means the person is trying to protect themselves from pain; it implies that you rae warding off an attack - Comes from a misguided sense of righteous indignation - A defensive climate is created when there is: o Evaluation rather than description o Control rather than problem solving o Strategy rather than spontaneity (the conversation is calculated and manipulative, not thoughtful) o Neutrality rather than empathy o Superiority rather than equality o Certainty rather than provisionalism Stonewalling - Occurs when turn taking in a conversation is not happening, you are essentially speaking to an emotionless wall - 85% are men - It is an attempt to signal withdrawal from communication, while still being present in the conversation (in a destructive way) - Can also be refusing to partake in a conversation no matter the manner in which it comes up (being up cooperative) Contempt - Contempt is any statement or nonverbal behaviour that puts oneself on a higher plane than one’s partner - Often involves sarcasm and mockery - Long-term healthy relationships will not have this Inflexibility/Rigidity - When parties are unable to adapt to changing circumstances - When the have to follow the rules of the book, the potentiality of the constructiveness of the conflict often deteriorates Competitive System of Dominance and Subordination - Authenticity and subordination are NOT compatible - Dominant groups are successful because they hide the conflicts and feelings , denying their existence - In a situation of unequal power, in which an illusion of harmony is put forth, the subordinate person is put in charge of maintaining that harmony Escalatory Spirals - When conflict gets out of hand - Causes primary intentions of the parties to shit from useful exchange to damaging the other party - Have only one direction, and it’s onward - Characterized by a heavy reliance on overt power manipulation, threats, coercion and deception - “hitting below the belt” (unnecessary personal exchanges) can occur - There is a strong desire to get even with the other party or seek revenge - There are three parts that mutually reinforce each other: o The behaviours o Perceptions of others o Perceptions of the relationship Avoidance Spirals - Escalatory spirals can be called “fight patterns” - “Flight patterns” can also emerge in conflicts - Basic dynamics are: o Less direct interactions o Active avoidance of the party o Reduction of depenedence o Harboring of resentment or disappointment o Complaining to a third party - Conflict party may be getting something from the spirals, however The Attack/Withdraw Pattern or Pursue/Flee Pattern - Destructive dance manifested in intimate relationships - The pattern: o One partner typically initiates conversation, usually about the lack of closeness between them, brings up issues to be resolved, and drawing the other partner out by asking questions o Usually the other partner brushes lack of closeness as being too busy, etc o The conflict remains unsolved because each partner specializes in a role that is so habitual o Avoidance sequence leads to relationship breakup because of its negative impact o Avoidance or stonewalling comes after initial stages o Avoidance can be viewed within the overall spiral of conflict as leading to eventual dissolution of relationship - If avoidance is accepted by both partners, that could possibly stabilize relationship Reciprocity - Three types of reciprocity can be identified in communication: o 1) low-intensity emotion is responded to with the same type of emotion o 2) high-intensity emotion is met with the same type of emotion o 3) low is met with high emotion - Meeting negative emotion with more negative emotion predicts relationship breakup - Violent relationships are a one-way power struggle gone wirld, the escalating spiral of negativity ends in verbal/physical violence Retaliation - Conflict parties destroy chances for change when they pile up grievances , hold grudges, or wait for the party to retaliate - Often gets paired with covert avoidance - Learning to do what comes unnaturally requires an examination of ones most deeply held values and spiritual beliefs - In conflict, no one set of principles will always work, and no one set of behaviors avoided can keep you out of the conflict altogether - Four key stages of conflict: o The appearance of conflict o Absence of hope o Occurrence of creativity o Emergence of stability - Conflict is defined as expressed struggle between at least two parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from others in achieving their goals (2) Limiting Escalation / De-escalation - De-escalation involves changes within each of the parties as well as new forms of interaction between them - Des-escalation does not occur until the parties have reached a consensus that both parties are being harmed in the continuation of the situation Slowing Escalation - One way to avoid danger of escalation is to limit the extent to which a conflict becomes more intense and sever - Conflict-limiting norms and institutions can limit severity of conflict - Forums and third-party institutions can help solve conflicts - Preventive diplomacy can also aid by providing measures that aim to prevent conflicts from becoming violent (democratization also does this)
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