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Initiating conflict communication: Disagreement/Conflict is a fact of human life (How we initiate communication during conflict can make a difference)

Initiating conflict communication: Disagreement/Conflict is a fact of human life (How we initiate communication during conflict can make a difference)

1. Introduction

Constructive studies require administration while initiating communication for resolving the conflict between individuals (Mahon & Nicotera, 2011). The research findings by (Schudlich, Papp, & Cummings, 2011) indicate the adverse influence of the constructive, depressive and angry types of conflicts between the individuals on the pattern of their mental health and wellness. The absence of the utilization of constructive communication between couples leads to the onset of depressive episodes and marital dissatisfaction. Therefore, the deployment of appropriate communication and conflict management approaches highly warranted in the context of stabilizing the interpersonal relationships between individuals and reduction in their depressive manifestations. The presented research study evaluated the likelihood of the defensive responses of individuals in six different scenarios that incorporate different types of conflicting issues between the individuals. The probable influence of I-level and You-level statements on the interpersonal conflicts between people provides an insight regarding the communication mechanism warranted for effectively fixing the these interpersonal conflicts between people. The type and intensity of defensive responses in communication inversely influence the resolution of interpersonal conflicts among individuals across the community environment. The objective of this research study attributes to the rational exploration of psychosocial (conflict-resolution) approaches and their comparison with the findings of evidence-based literature in the context of widening the scope of prospective research and analysis on the selected subject. Most importantly, the evaluation of communication strategies and their effectiveness in resolving the conflicts is the need of today and comparative analysis between various communication approaches through research studies required for assisting the scientific community in resolving the psychosocial discrepancies between people across the community environment.

The research study by (Harrison, Ahn, & Adolphs, 2015) explored the influence of various situational factors on the pattern of threat reactions among the individuals. Humans tend to exhibit defensive behavior under situations of threat that might induce the pattern of anxiety and depression among themselves while dealing with the stressful situations. The pattern of defensive communication between people might induce the psychological threats between themselves leading to the intensification of aggression and anxiety that could disrupt their interpersonal relations. The study findings reveal the different level of situational responses to social threats among male and female members of the society. Research findings by (Overton & Lowry, 2013) advocate the requirement of acquisition of emotional, cognitive and behavioral skills for the effective management of conflict between the people. The acquisition of appropriate communication skills by the individuals required for resolving the discrepant state of mind of their counterparts in difficult situations. Skilled communication advocates the requirement of effective transformation of key attributes of a complex thought into words, images and sounds for configuring shared understanding between people (NAS, 2011). Skilled communicators exhibit expertise in extending positive outcomes to their partners with the effective utilization of negotiation, persuasion and social perceptiveness under various situational scenarios (NAS, 2011). This leads to the generation of effective “you” or “I” level statements for reducing the probability and intensity of defensive responses in conflict communication. The utilization of speech code is of utmost importance in a conflict communication (Bylund, Peterson, & Cameron, 2012). This speech code is influenced by the cultural conventions of individuals and facilitates the practice of appropriate communication behavior for resolving interpersonal conflicts and elevating the psychosocial outcomes. The findings of the research study by (Dehaghani, Akhormeh, & Mehrabi, 2012) affirm the positive influence of the interpersonal communication skills on the job satisfaction rate of nurses across a clinical setting. Effective enhancement of interpersonal communication requires the tracking of barriers of interpersonal communication skills and their effective mitigation for resolving the conflicts between individuals. The research findings by (Westlake, 2014) describe the interpersonal conflicts between individuals that generate during unfavorable circumstances. Tangential questioning considered as a preferred method of communication as it allows the recipient to share a difference in opinion in such a manner that he/she does not feel confronted during the communication process (Westlake, 2014). The pattern of bilateral communication that allows the back and forth dissemination of feedback potentially facilitates the resolution of conflicts between the individuals. The facilitators of the communication process require a thorough understanding of the situational circumstances that might deteriorate the communication outcomes and induce defensive responses among the individuals.

A balance of competitive and cooperative attributes required for maximizing the outcomes of a communication process between people. Cooperative behavioral communication approaches prove advantageous for achieving a common goal while prioritizing the benefits of all parties (Guirdham, 2015, p. 222). However, misplaced competitiveness in conflict communication leads to the pattern of defensive responses in terms of confrontations and arguments leading to deterioration in interpersonal relationships between individuals. The “You-statements” in such scenarios lead to the distortion in the communication process as the opposing members feel overburdened by the offensive statements and contentions of their counterparts. A range of factors attributing to the physical characteristics, types of statements, facial expressions, voice-related behavior, space and autonomic responses greatly influence the pattern of therapeutic dialogue between individuals (Egan, 2014, p. 75). However, the administration of empathy in a therapeutic communication assists in influencing the thought processes of people during the communication process (Decety & Ickes, 2009, p. 101). The administration of empathic understanding responses by the communication facilitator helps the other person in acknowledging the thought processes of the facilitator and proves advantageous in resolving interpersonal conflicts and retaining bond of emotional relationship (Decety & Ickes, 2009). The minimization of assumptions and information gaps in the process of conflict resolution is highly necessary for acquiring the desirable outcomes from conflict communication. The communication facilitator must possess the ability of actively comprehending the circumstances related to the conflict and administer appropriate communication strategies for its effective resolution. Independent thinking patterns considerably assist in resolving the conflicts between individuals. The evaluation of cultural sensitivity and power differences among individuals highly warranted in configuring appropriate communication strategies for conflict resolution (Tsai, Tsai, Weng, & Chou, 2013). The types of conflicts that arise between the healthcare professionals during critical clinical scenarios are the direct outcomes of communication discrepancies across healthcare settings (Fassier & Azoulay, 2010). Multimodal communication interventions require administration for filling the communication gaps between the professionals for effectively resolving their interpersonal conflicts.

Indeed, making true confessions in communication assist in retaining transparency in the back and forth dissemination of thoughts between the individuals (Belzer, 2009, p. 49). This type of behavioral strategy facilitates the acknowledgement of thought processes of the communication facilitator by other members of the communication process that resultantly resolve their potential conflicts across a healthy environment. The clear and active transfer of information by the communication facilitator required for avoiding the scope of ambiguity in the communication process (Miller, 2015, pp. 109-114). This rationally increases the interest of the other person in communication and he/she then cooperates with the facilitator in resolving the conflicting scenario. Communication-facilitators require elevating the feeling of self-worth among their counterparts in the context of reducing the scope of their defensive responses (Wood, 2016, p. 50). This resultantly increases the scope of positive outcomes from the communication process that effectively resolves potential conflicts between individuals through mutual understanding. The realization of the significance of shared decision-making between the individuals required for the effective resolution of their interpersonal conflicts (Beaulieu, et al., 2011). This realization makes them behaviorally oriented in terms of exploring the effective communication strategies for reducing the intensity of their conflicts across the community environment. Evidence-based research literature emphasizes the significance of the diffusion of context-specific communication interventions for the resolution of interpersonal conflicts and behavioral discrepancies between the people (Chen, et al., 2012). Therefore, a blend of “I and you» statements require configuration in accordance with the context of situation for effectively resolving the state of disagreement, dissatisfaction and behavioral instability that develop during the interpersonal conflicts between the individuals. The research findings by (Ahmed, Hossain, & Kabir, 2014) emphasize the role of effective communication between the individuals in the context of facilitating the process of informed-decision making across the healthcare sector. Culture sensitive communication patterns require customization for increasing the level of awareness of people regarding the contextual circumstances that dominate and adversely influence their interpersonal relationships. This enhancement of contextual awareness reciprocally elevates the communication skills of people that they might utilize for resolving their potential interpersonal conflicts across the community environment.

The hypothesis of the present research study states the high efficacy of the context specific “I – statements” (as compared to you-statements) in resolving the potential interpersonal conflicts between the individuals. The research studies executed on the subject until date warrant the organization of prospective analytical interventions for exploring the best communication approaches required for resolving the imbalanced state of minds of people during the state of interpersonal conflict. Elevated state of mental wellness of people is the preliminary necessity for developing psychologically healthy society across the community environment. The findings of the present research study attempt to validate the findings of evidence-based literature on the concept of conflict communication.

2. Method

2.1 Participants

Indeed, 199 students, including 165 females and 34 males participated in the research study. The mean age of female candidates attributed to 29.4 years; however, the mean age of male subjects accounted for 28.5 years as revealed by the selection criteria. Female and male students constituted 83% and 17% of the total candidates enrolled in the research study.

2.2 Materials

Students required undergoing six different conflict-based scenarios and rate eight different conflict-resolution statements associated with each particular scenario in tenure of 20-25 minutes. Each particular statement categorized in accordance with the communication scenarios attributing to both “self & other”, “self-only”, “other-only”, “none” characteristics.

2.3 Procedure

Eight different survey statements were rated by the selected students in the context of selecting the perceived likelihood that the other person would react in a defensive manner in a conflicting scenario. The defensive rating was calculated on a six-point scale while identifying the impact of “I” versus “you” statements on the pattern of defensive responses of the other member in the process of conflict communication. The selected scenarios described the conflicting state, point of view of the protagonist as well as the other person through eight “I and you” statements. The rating of each of the 36 statements by the research participants while selecting the “extremely unlikely”, very unlikely”, somewhat unlikely, somewhat likely, very likely and extremely likely parameters expected to give an insight regarding the potential communication strategies warranted for effectively resolving the state of interpersonal conflicts between the individuals. The survey findings will assist the research professionals in identifying the behavioral style and communication behavior warranted for resolving the state of conflict and disagreement between the individuals.

The likelihood of a defensive reaction evaluated on a 6-point scale, as elaborated in the graph labeled as “Figure – A”. ANOVA interventions performed the factorial analysis of the communicated perspective and the influence of “I and you” language on the defensive reaction of the other member in the process of conflicting communication. communicated perspective included the attributes of “Self & Other”, “self”, “other”, “none” that were cumulatively analyzed for identifying the best communication strategies warranted for resolving the communication conflicts between people.

3. Results

The data was analyzed by ANOVA intervention for tracking the primary influence of the communication perspective identified by Bonferroni adjusted comparison attributing to F (3,594) = 234.46, p < .001, ηp2 = .54. This statistically significant finding indicates that all PS < .001. However, the preliminary influence of “I and you” language evaluated as F (1,198) = 254.66, p < .001, ηp2 = .56. The influence of interaction between the communication facilitator and the person at the receiving end of the communication process calculated as F (3,594) = 49.51, p < .001, ηp2 = .20. The comparative analysis between the “I” and “you” patterns of communication administration revealed the differences between self & other/ other only and self only/None statements in the following manner:

• Self & other = t (198) = 13.95, p < .001, r = .70

• Self only = t (198) = 12.21, p < .001, r = .66

• Other only = t (198) = 14.23, p < .001, r = .71

• None = t (198) = 8.15, p < .001, r = .50

Differences between the I-language and You-language statements recorded (as 0.56 and 0.54) in the context of their influence on the likelihood of defensive responses by the recipients of communication. The one-way ANOVA analysis for I-language statements retrieved as F (3,594) = 249.68, p < .001, ηp2 = .56 (p<.001). Contrarily, the same analysis for the You-language statements retrieved as F (3,594) = 154.69, p < .001, ηp2 = .44. The exception that was subjected to the “self-only” & “Other-only” communicated perspective revealed p=.18. The likelihood of the defensive responses from the recipients of communication following the administration of I-language statements varied between the units 3 – 4 (i.e. somewhat unlikely – somewhat likely). The probability of defensive responses following the administration of You-language statements recorded at 4 – 5 (i.e. somewhat likely – very likely). The probability of defensive responses in relation to the utilization of I-statements, rated by male students at 3 – 4 (i.e. somewhat unlikely – somewhat likely). For the You-statements, the likelihood rated by male students recorded at 3 – 5 (i.e. somewhat unlikely to very likely) (Figure – B). The female students rated the likelihood of defensive responses after I-statements at 3 – 4 (i.e. somewhat unlikely – somewhat likely). The probability of defensive responses following the administration of You-statements identified by female students in terms of 3 – 5 (i.e. somewhat unlikely to very likely) (Figure – C). The overall findings of the research study rationally revealed the elevated efficacy of I-statements (as compared to You-statements) in terms of reducing the probability of defensive responses by the individuals at the receiving-end of the communication process.

Lab reportnitiating conflict communication Disagreement/conflict is a fact of human life How we communicate can make a difference

4. Discussion

4.1 Study Outcomes

The outcomes of this research study comply with the evidence-based findings that advocate the utilization of I-statements for increasing the efficacy of conflict communication (Burr, 1990). I-statements indeed, subjectively emphasize the thought processes, feelings, aspirations, beliefs, hopes, difficulties and challenges experienced by one’s own-self as compared to the you-statements that attempt to explore the deficits in others in a state of interpersonal conflict. The findings of this research study affirm the significance of skilled communication behavior in effectively enhancing the interpersonal relationships between the individuals. The pattern of context based self-control and self-regulation necessarily warranted in the process of conflict communication for acquiring the desirable outcomes (Hargie, 2011). The configuration of self-controlled I-statements in accordance with the contextual scenario assists the recipients of communication in realizing the feelings of communication facilitators during the process of conflict communication. This reciprocally initiates the reestablishment of empathy and therapeutic relationship between the individuals that considerably facilitate the effective resolution of the state of conflict. Communication facilitators need to practice balanced assertiveness while administering I-statements to their counterparts while mitigating manifestations of conflicting circumstances. Evidence-based research literature advocates the incapacity of human behaviors like irrelevant contributions, disagreement and negative tone, the absence of coordination, inattentiveness and constraints in terms of taking the perspectives of individuals across the community environment (Kellas, Willer, & Trees, 2013). The findings of this research study evidentially signify the relevance and requirement of contextually configured I-statements for efficiently analyzing and influencing the perspectives of individuals in the process of conflict communication.

4.2 Implications

The theoretical implication of this research study attributes to the affirmation of the evidence-based findings regarding the efficacy of I-statements in terms of acquiring the desirable outcomes from the process of conflict communication. However, the practical implication advocates the substantial utilization of evidence-based communication strategies for effectively resolving the interpersonal conflicts between individuals.

4.3 Limitations

The methodological limitation of the research study related to the lack of exploration of confounding factors while retrieving the findings from ANOVA intervention. The conceptual limitations attribute to the limited scenarios presented to the study subjects for their rating in a limited time interval. Furthermore, a limited number of study subjects enrolled for executing the survey intervention. These limitations might generate biased results requiring organization of prospective surveys at a larger scale for the further confirmation of the findings retrieved from this research study.

4.4 Future Research

The organization of prospective research studies necessarily required for the further exploration of appropriate communication strategies in the context of resolving the potential interpersonal conflicts at various stages of life. From a broader perspective, the strategies above the level of “I/You-statements” require evaluation in the context of improving the communication environment for acquiring the desirable psychosocial outcomes. The conflicting scenarios of life considerably disrupt the mental and emotional stability of individuals that leads to the state of mental illness and associated adverse manifestations. The multidimensional perspectives of communication require exploration through future research interventions in the surge of developing effective communication strategies for reducing the burden of stressful mental states among the individuals.


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Paraphrased Scenario

Carol associates with her colleague Wendy for the execution of an important project requiring accomplishment in a short timeframe. However, both executives handling other significant projects as well concomitantly while focusing on the task with a limited timeframe. Wendy raised her refusal in sparing time for the ongoing project while mentioning her engagement in other vital tasks. Resultantly, the state of refusal of Wendy leads Carol to an unpleasant state of mind when she feels overburdened by the additional responsibility in the absence of Wendy’s support in the execution of the allocated assignment.