Managing Interpersonal  Conflict

Managing Interpersonal Conflict


Upon completion of this learning object,  you will be able to recognize interpersonal conflict styles and apply effective conflict management strategies to cases scenarios.

Here you will be introduced to different conflict styles and help promote effective conflict management through the recognition and appreciation of others’ perspectives. This is important for those transitioning into organizations that are intentional in creating a diverse and inclusive community.  For example, when high school graduates from a small, home-town community go to college, they will meet individuals from a variety of backgrounds with differing opinions. Effective conflict management skills are important for personal, professional, and interpersonal success.


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This exercise was developed by Kaitlin Black and Anna Rankin, graduate students and instructors in the Department of Communications . University of Kentucky's College of Communication and Information [http://cis.uky.edu]. It has been used as an opening exercise in CIS 110: Composition and Communication (see for example the syllabus from Fall 2011 http://cis.uky.edu/icd/sites/default/files/CIS%20110%20Syllabus%20Spring%202012_0.pdf, a required course in the University's general education program, UK Core [http://www.uky.edu/UGE/documents/Templates/Composition%20and%20Communication.pdf]. Within this requirement, students are expected to demonstrate competent written, oral, and visual communication skills both as producers and consumers of information.


(1) Introduction

Would you agree that this example of the Hatfields and McCoy feud represents conflict at every level? It was meant to represent extreme and perhaps unresolvable conflict.

The next sections of this learning object will expose you to different styles of conflict, methods to manage conflict and examples of conflict in the workplace. Once you have completed the steps and assessed your knowledge and understanding, you will be prepared to assess and resolve conflict in new situations and help toward your continued success in college.

(2) Defining Terms

Source: Black, K and Rankin, A (2012). Presentation Slide. University of Kentucky, Department of Communication.

(3) Using Conflict Styles to Resolve and Manage Conflict

Source: Black, K and Rankin, A (2012). Presentation Slide 2. University of Kentucky, Department of Communication.

(4): Practice: Take the Conflict Management Styles Quiz

Complete this conflict styles quiz to identity your own style in managing conflict and in understanding the various conflict management styles other individual use. Completing and scoring the instrument should take you about 15 minutes.

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Source: Source: Reginald (Reg) Adkins, PhD, Elemental Truths http://elementaltruths.blogspot.com/2006/11/conflict-m

(5) Acitivy:Practice and Apply


Now that you've taken the conflict management quiz, you have a better sense of what your conflict management style is called and why.  In what kinds of situations will you succeed using your conflict management style? In which kinds of conflicts might you need to use a different style (Avoiding, Accommodating, competing, Compromising and Collaborating)?  What are some barriers to collaborating with others to resolve conflict? Reflect on the following scenarios and identify those in which your style might best succeed in managing the conflict.

* Tape Recorder Fight, Acting Out Conflict, TeacherVision
*Classmates in Conflict, Campus Conflict Resolution Resources, Wayne State University
*Borrowed and Busted (university students in a residence hall), Campus Conflict Resolution Resources, Wayne State University
* Credit Where Credit is Due (graduate research student employees), Campus Conflict Resolution Resources, Wayne State University
* Workplace Conflict Resolution Scenarios, ReadyToManage.com
* Difficult People in the Workplace, Ohio Literacy Resource Center


(6) Additional Resources

Consider exploring these additional resources on managing interpersonal conflict:

Conflict Resolution Training for Academic Leadership, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Conflict Resolution Center, University of North Dakota

INCORE (International Conflict Research Institute), University of Ulster

Intergroup Dialogue, Education and Action (IDEA) Center, University of Washington


Search for Common Ground