Conflict and Negotiation

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Why study conflict?
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Conflict is natural and inevitable, so it is worth studying so that you can learn how to deal with it positively and effectively.
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What are the benefits of learning effective skills in conflict?
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Improvement in mental health–your own and others’ Long-term satisfaction in your family, your relationships and at work People around you benefit from your improved skills
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What is the textbook definition of conflict?
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An expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from others in achieving their goals.
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What is the class definition of conflict?
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A substantive disagreement that is more than a misperception/misunderstanding with at least one other person, that involves our goals (what we want) and our interests (what we need), and triggers an emotional response.
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What is at the core of all conflict analysis?
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Perception–sorting our what is perceived and what is interpersonally accurate
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What is interpersonal conflict?
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Focuses on the communicative exchanges that make up the conflict episode
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What is intrapersonal conflict?
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Internal strain that creates a state of ambivalence, conflicting internal dialogue, or lack of resolution in one’s thinking and feeling
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What are intrapersonal perceptions?
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Bedrock upon which conflicts are built An interpersonal conflict emerges only when there are communicative manifestations of these perceptions
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What are conflict parties?
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They engage in an expressed struggle and interfere with one another because they are interdependent (each person’s choice affects the other)
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What is strategic conflict?
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Conflict in which both parties have choices as opposed to conflict in which the power is so disparate that there are virtually no choices A \”theory of precarious partnership\” or \”incomplete antagonism\” Parties are never totally antagonistic; must have mutual interests
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What are gridlocked conflicts?
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Conflicts that happen when you are stuck in unproductive interdependence
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Perceived incompatible goals
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People are often convinced that they have opposing goals and cannot agree on anything to pursue together, but if goals are reframed or put in a different context, the parties can agree Goals are perceived incompatible because parties want either the same thing or different things
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Perceived scarce resources
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Resource: any positively perceived physical, economic or social consequence (money, jobs, love, esteem, information, etc) Power and self-esteem are two resources often perceived as scarce in interpersonal struggles
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Interference
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Necessary to complete the conditions for conflict Conflict is associated with blocking, perceiving other person as standing in the way of what you want
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What are destructive conflicts?
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If all participants are dissatisfied with the outcomes of the conflict and think they have lost as a result
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Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
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When these four behaviors ride in to a relationship, the end is near–> criticizing, defensiveness, stonewalling, contempt
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Criticizing
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A complaint taken to the next level by including statements that are blaming, attack character or are otherwise insulting When a conflict begins with a critical statement (\”you always…\”, \”you never…\”), the conflict is likely to escalate quickly and have a destructive effect. It sets the other person on the defensive right away and makes the tone so negative that the conversation can’t be rescued.
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What is Gottman’s rephrasing formula?
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When you do X in situation Y, I feel Z. Takes responsibility for yourself without blaming and does it in a noncritical way
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What does Gottman say about apologies?
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It’s not what you put in the apology/repair, it’s how the other person receives it.
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4 steps to changing destructive complaints into constructive criticism
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Use an \”I\” statement Describe the undesirable behavior Use neutral, nonjudgmental language Ask for a specific behavioral change
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Defensiveness
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Defending oneself from real or perceived criticism, by making excuses, deflecting blame, or otherwise avoiding responsibility. When one uses defensive communication, they are communicating a desire to protect themselves against pain, fear, personal responsibility or new information.
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What neutralizes defensiveness?
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Support–>creating a supportive environment makes it possible for the other person to be heard, and thus for the other person to hear you. Does NOT mean agreement
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Stonewalling
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Actively disengaging from a conversation Stonewallers show in every possible way that they are not \”there\”…No eye contact, head nods, changes in facial expression, etc. Try to conceal what they’re thinking/feeling Men consistently stonewall more than women (85% of stonewallers) People stonewall when they’re afraid to be influenced or when they’re so angry they no longer wish to engage.
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Contempt
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Any statement or nonverbal behavior that puts oneself on a higher plane than one’s partner Often involves a nasty kind of mockery, put downs, hostile corrections, and sarcasm to make partner feel stupid, foolish or otherwise inferior.
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Escalatory Spirals
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The relationship continues to circle around to more and more damaging ends; the interaction becomes self-perpetuating Characteristics: misunderstanding, discord, destruction Spiral of negativity has three parts: the behaviors, the perception of others, and the perceptions of the relationship
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Avoidance Spirals
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Basic dynamics: less direct interaction, active avoidance of the other party, reduction of dependence, harboring of resentment and disappointment, and complaining to third persons about the other party Demonstrate covert expression–>at least one of the parties tries to impact the other through lack of cooperation
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The Attack/Withdraw Pattern
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Destructive dance usually manifested in intimate relationships Destroys chances for productive interaction
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Three kinds of reciprocity in communication
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Low-intensity emotion is responded to in kind (i.e. anger met with anger) High-intensity emotion is met in kind (i.e. fury met with fury) Low-intensity emotion is met with high-intensity emotions
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3 parts of brain
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Reptilian brain: \”Will I live or will I die?\” Limbic system: Amygdala, fight or flight –if the amygdala perceives a stimulus as a fight or flight situation, it hijacks the rational brain…if the amygdala perceives a threat, it can cause people to react irrationally and destructively. Neocortex: \”thinking brain\”, sensory perception, motor commands, conscious thought and language
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What chemicals are released when we experience positive and negative things?
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Levels of fear–we get cortisol–>shuts down our ability to think rationally Experience positive things–we get oxytocin–>allows for collaboration, creativity, etc.
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What is the difference between emotional threat and physical threat?
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No difference, brain registers it in the same way
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Decision making process
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input from the senses—>perspectives, beliefs, values, memories–>behavior Objective info gets meaning from perspectives each of us puts on it
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5 principles of conflict
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Conflict requires cooperation Our identities and relationships are jointly created-they’re not just ours There are patterns in communication whereby even small details matter Meaning in communications is jointly created…behaviors don’t carry meaning, they need to be interpreted In ongoing relationships, it’s often not clear where conflict begins and where it ends (or what it’s about)
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Malcolm Gladwell’s Thin-Slicing
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thin-slicing: the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very narrow slices of experiences
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Gladwell’s Problems with generalizations:
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You have to decide which factors you include/exclude in a generalization, and if we do it too quickly, we include/exclude the wrong things (pit bulls)
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What is emotional intelligence?
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The ability to perceive, evaluate, and respond to emotions in ourselves and in others Reading people’s visual cues to figure out where they are emotionally Difference between business model: Business model includes element \”to control emotions\”
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Four main skills of Emotional Intelligence
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1) Self-awareness: Perceiving our emotions and understanding our tendencies to act in certain ways in certain situations 2) Social awareness: Understanding emotions of other people 3) Self-management: Using awareness of our emotions to stay flexible and direct our behavior positively and constructively 4) Relationship management: Using awareness of our own emotions and those of others to manage interactions successfully.
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Attachment styles
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Secure attachment or insecure attachment to parents, affects conflict resolution abilities 20 years later Subjects with insecure attachment to parents experience more negative emotions when trying to resolve major relationship conflicts with their partners
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The lens model of conflict
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Study of conflict is a view through a lens, which specifies that each person views oneself, the other person, and their relationship
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Filters
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Gender filters—men use more independent criterion for managing conflict and women use a more interdependent one Cultural filters–individualistic vs collectivistic
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What is a goal?
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The result or achievement toward which effort is directed
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TRIP GOALS
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4 general types of goals people pursue in conflict Topic or Content Relational Identity or face work Process Reason for this framework: goals are not clear-cut, they shift and change in importance…helps keep track of what’s important and what we need to address
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Topic Goals
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\”What do we want?\” Emerge as different ideas about what to do, what decision to make, where to go, how to allocate resources, or other externally objectifiable issues. Can be easily seen and talked about–external to us (\”I want that\”) Two types: People want different things, or people want the same things
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Relational Goals
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\”Who are we to each other?\” Define how each party wants to be treated by the other and the amount of interdependence they desire (how they define themselves as a unit) Difficult to specify from the outside because each person translates the same event into his/her own relational meaning…we never ultimately know the other person’s translations
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Identity/ Face-Saving Goals
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\”Who am I in this interaction?\” Need to maintain, protect, repair self-esteem and social esteem Become more important as conflict becomes more intense Four types of identity message: 1)Save your own face (resist perceived unjust intimidation, refuse to step back from a position though the position is unattainable) 2)Save other’s face (avoid giving directive, listen carefully and show concern) 3) Damage your own face 4) Damage other person’s face (humiliate, embarrass, demean, exclude) identity trap: our identity issues disable us from seeing constructive paths of problem solving
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Process Goals
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\”What communication process will be used?\” Determine how conflict will be resolved examples: Giving each person equal talk time, consensus, decisions made by subgroup, talking informally before deciding, having high-power, etc. Different processes encourage or discourage creative solutions: –Quick, well-defined processes help you move forward but may decrease creative, innovative solutions. –Longer processes can build in time for reflection and evaluation, and improve the chances for creativity
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Advantages of clarifying goals
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Solutions go unrecognized if you don’t know what you want Only clear goals can be shared Clear goals can be altered more easily than vague goals Clear goals are reached more often than unclear goals
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What’s the risk of clarifying goals?
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Seriously incompatible goals become glaringly apparent (upside to this is that it happens sooner rather than later)
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Goals Change in interaction
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Goals change across time from prospective (before interacting with the person), to transactive goals (during the interaction itself), to retrospective (after the conflict). When shifts happen, the goal is to keep them positive
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Prospective Goals
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Intentions people have before engaging in conflict Clarifying this type of goal can help you gain clarity about what you want for yourself, prepare yourself, and get a sense of \”I can do this\”. To do’s in conflict: -Share prospective goals at outset of conflict -Make sure they’re as clear as possible to the other person -Back up and examine your goals repeatedly–>ask \”Is this still a realistic goal?\”
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Transactive goals
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Goals that are discovered during the conflict itself Shift original (prospective goal) to transactive goal because you have more info Clarifying this goal can help you recognize that communication is transactional (what I say depends on what you say…), help you decide if it’s worth it to sacrifice one goal for another, and keep you from shifting toward damaging face and reducing power of the other party To do’s in conflict: -Continue to clarify goals to other person/people -Continue to reexamine your goals–>\”Is this now a realistic goal given what I know?\”
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Retrospective goals
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Goals that emerge after the conflict is over Give you a way to save face (allows for collaboration in the future) Provide justification for past actions, explanation of past conflict, and expectations in future conflict Goals continue to grow and change even after the conflict is over
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What does productive conflict management require you to do?
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Know what your goals are State your goals clearly to yourself Communicate them in a flexible manner to your conflict partner
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What do \”good goals\” aka collaborative goals do?
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Address short, medium and long range goals–not just immediate needs Are behaviorally specific, e.g. not just \”I’ll do better\” but \”I’ll make sure I’m on time\” Focus on future change, not on past actions and blame Recognize interdependence–show concern for other parties’ goals
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What is culture?
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Shared system of meaning, dictates what we pay attention to, how we act and what we value Function of culture: tells you if you’re in familiar territory or not (makes us aware at conscious and unconscious levels that we are connected to these people and not those people)…acts as a \”human relations adhesive\”, and dictates how we’re going to engage in conflict.
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What are the levels of culture?
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The immediately visible The symbols, meanings and norms The traditions, beliefs and values Universal human needs
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What are the three types of power?
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Designated (power given by your position) Distributive (either/or power) Integrative (both/and power)
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Designated power
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aka \”position power\” The power conferred on you by your position Reflects the positional ability to marshal resources Is easily seen Examples: judges, parents, heads of household, teachers, politicians, police
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Distributive (Either/Or) Power
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The power that comes from your ability to achieve your objective over the resistance of others Either I dominate you or you dominate me Contest of will/power struggle When partners are involved in an either/or power struggle, communication contains a lot of one-up responses Example: dictators, armies, etc
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Integrative (Both/And) Power
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The power you have with someone else We join forces to achieve mutually acceptable goals Culture: this is the power choice for Japanese…harmony and cooperation are basic values Gender: Power choice for women in America because boys are taught to compete–they relate through games and competition whereas girls are taught to share
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Power Denial
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Power is often uncomfortable for people to discuss–so much so that usually people in high power positions deny they have power. Even if you would rather be seen as someone that doesn’t exert power, you exercise influence on how the conflict will be defined.
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Communication consequences of power denial
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-You don’t know what people don’t want you to know -You hear a small percentage of grapevine communication -People are cautious, nervous, and withhold info more than you think -Your \”open door\” policy isn’t effective
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Relational Theory of Power
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Excluding situations of unequal physical power and use of violence, power is a property of the social relationship rather than a quality of the individual Power isn’t owned by the individual, the particular relationship creates the power distribution Power is always interpersonal Your dependence on another person is the function of the importance of the goals the other can influence and the availability of other avenues to accomplish what you want.
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What is interpersonal power?
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The ability to influence a relational partner in any context because you control, or at least they perceive that you control, resources that they need, value, desire, or fear. It also includes the ability to resist the influence attempts of a partner One way to reduce power others have over you: change your goals Communicating about the value you offer is a way of increasing your power.
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Individual Power Currencies
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Power currencies depend on how much your particular resources are valued by the other person in a relationship context Power depends on having currencies that other people need–it is relational
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4 types of Power currencies (RICE)
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Resource control: often comes with one’s formal position in an organization or group (controlling of rewards/punishments like salary, number of hours worked, or firing) Interpersonal linkages: your position in the larger system as it relates to communication exchange–not what you know but who you know (e.g. the bridge between two groups of friends who would otherwise not interact) Communication skills: your ability to persuade, listen, and communicate–most importantly the ability to form bonds with others (e.g. being a good listener-need to be sincere) —those who communicate well gain value and interpersonal power Expertise: your special knowledge or skill that is valued by someone else
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Perception of power
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When in the middle of conflict, each person firmly believes the other person has more power Almost always inaccurate
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Most common way to measure power
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Compare the relative resources of the parties in a conflict Has two limitations: Defines resources too narrowly and puts too much emphasis on the source of the influence
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What questions need to be asked to conflict parties when measuring power?
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What are your sources of power? What are the other party’s sources of power? How does the other see you and his/her sources of power? Parties’ perceptions are almost always different from outsiders’
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Covert power
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When power is exercised in hidden ways, choices made based on another’s potential influence Especially difficult to assess
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Power Imbalance
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Possession of power is always a relative judgment–each party has sources of power even during imbalance In intimate relationships, the person who is the least invested has the most power
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High Power
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Often a goal people strive for in Western culture It may lead to corruption–moral rottenness and inability to maintain integrity of self Emotions: you feel burdened, worried, or responsible for others
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Low Power
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Powerlessness can also corrupt–if low-power people are continually subjected to harsh treatment or lack of goal attainment, they are likely to produce some organized resistance to higher-power people Emotions: you feel defeated, sad or depressed Can lead to despair and violence In severe, repetitive conflicts, both parties feel low power
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Power balance
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When you have sufficient power, your interpersonal behaviors are at their best Long term relationships are more likely to work when power is balanced and shared. Power must be continually realigned as the relationship changes
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How much power do we need?
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Enough to live the lives we want and to feel like our voices are heard.
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When friends, coworkers, family members, etc. find a power imbalance in their relationships, they can…
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Work to make the relationship more equal Try to convince themselves and their partners that the relationship is more equal than it might seem (psychological equality) Eventually abandon the unbalanced relationship
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Techniques for balancing power
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Dialogue Restraint Focus on Interdependence The Power of Calm Persistence Stay Actively Engaged Empowerment of Low-Power People Metacommunication
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Dialogue
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Face to face conversation Speaking to others with a positive tone, listening, reflecting feelings, clarifying what you’ve heard, questioning when needed and summarizing Emails, policy changes, memos, etc are avoidant
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Restraint
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Higher power parties can limit their power by refusing to use all the currencies at their disposal
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Focus on Interdependence
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Focus on the ways people involved in the conflict are dependent upon each other instead of individual needs When two people elevate their dependence on each other, both increases their sources of power
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The Power of Calm Persistence
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Lower-power people in a conflict can often gain more equal power by persisting in their requests Substantive change comes from small, planned steps with an understanding of the issues to be resolved–not with focus on the other as the source of the problem
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Stay Actively Engaged
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People who perceive themselves as powerless often disengage and become self-defeating or passive aggressive Remaining in a low-power position, assuming weakness is permanent, and using destructive tactics benefits no one. Speak up and present a balanced picture of strengths and weaknesses Make clear your values, beliefs and priorities and act consistently with them State differences and allow others to do the same–be courageous
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Empowerment of Low-Power People by High-Power People
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Sometimes it is to their advantage to empower low-power people Empowerment also occurs with third parties Employers coming to the defense of employees, the legal system providing attorneys
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Metacommunication
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Transcend the win/lose structure by jointly working to preserve the relationship during conflict Being verbally explicit about the communication
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Conflict styles
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Patterned responses, or clusters of behavior, that people use in conflict
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How we respond to conflict
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Most heavily influenced by our family of origin We are either a reflection of how our families respond to conflict (we respond to it the same way we saw it responded to as children) or we are a reaction to it (we respond to it in a different or in the opposite way)
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Mouton Blake grid
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Created 5 different leadership styles based on concern for the people and concern for production
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Kraybill Conflict Style Inventory
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Similar to predecessors, but wasn’t developed for business purposes and is culturally adaptable for both individualistic and collective cultures Takes into consideration a \”stress shift\” in your conflict response style from \”calm\” situations to \”storm\” situations
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What is the fundamental question in conflict situations?
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How can people resolve their differences so their needs and concerns–both short term and long term–will be met?
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Kraybill’s 5 styles of responding to conflict
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Directing, Cooperating, Compromising, Avoiding and Harmonizing
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Directing
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High focus on my own agenda and a low focus on the relationship Persuading, not being flexible, discouraging disagreement, setting limits or citing policy, insisting, repeating and controlling Benefits: speedy resolution, stability (e.g. in times of crisis no time is wasted negotiating) Costs: destruction of relationship, unbalanced or unequal relationships, loss of cooperation, others become resentful or angry toward you
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Cooperating
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high focus on my own agenda and high focus on the relationship Asserting myself but also inviting in other views and welcoming differences, jointly reflecting both strengths and weaknesses of all views Benefits: Trust and mutuality in relationships, high potential for creativity and personal growth, meaning and joy Costs: Time loss and fatigue, \”analysis paralysis\”, decision-making burnout, distraction from more important tasks
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Compromising
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medium focus on my own agenda and medium focus on relationship Meeting people halfway, bargaining and splitting the difference, finding something for everyone involved Benefits: Relatively fast, enables the continuation of activities, readily understood by most people, builds cooperative atmosphere Costs: Likelihood of patching symptoms and ignoring causes, everyone gets a little but no one is really happy, mediocrity and blandness
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Avoiding
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Low focus on my own agenda and low focus on the relationship Withdrawing or delaying a response, diverting attention to something else, Suppressing personal emotions or making myself inaccessible Benefits: Preservation of status quo, ability to block or influence others without actively doing anything, freedom from entanglement in trivial issues or insignificant relationships Costs: Slow death of relationships, explosions of pent-up anger, residue of negative feelings
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Harmonizing
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Low focus on my own agenda and high focus on relationship Agreeing, supporting, acknowledging my errors, placating, smiling and saying \”yes\” Benefits: Creates a pleasant atmosphere, likability to others, winning approval and appreciation of others Costs: Frustration of others who want to problem solve, over-dependence on others, possible acceptance of behaviors of others that should be challenged
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Implicit Associations Test
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We give off signals that don’t align with our values
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What is communication?
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An interaction between two or more people using expressive verbal or nonverbal methods to transmit information and feelings towards each other necessary to satisfy individual or group needs or wants
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What are the two central patterns of intercultural difference?
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Direct and indirect approaches to substantive disagreements Emotional expressiveness and emotional restraint approaches
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Attribution Theory
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If something negative happens to me, it’s because of the world outside, but if something negative happens to somebody else, it’s because of them.

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