College life can be quite the adjustment for most new students. When entering the collegiate atmosphere, there are new, sometimes unspoken, social rules and norms. With so many new social elements for students to acclimate to, already difficult situations, such as any form of conflict, are often particularly difficult to address. Fortunately, with a clear understanding of the various forms of conflict management, new students can learn to effectively communicate regarding any subject matter they may encounter.
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Consider a case study in which an off campus student struggles to study when dealing with a noisy upstairs neighbor. While any student should anticipate loud and late weekends, after all it is college life, the upstairs upperclassman’s loud and intimidating personality traits linger into weeknights. The undergraduate student needs to carefully consider how to approach the delicate situation. Luckily, the undergraduate student understands there are multiple communication styles and approaches to conflict management including passive, passive-aggressive, aggressive, and assertive styles, and considers each approach carefully before addressing the unruly neighbor.
In academic terms, a passive style of communication is a communication style in which an individual develops a pattern of avoidance regarding their opinions or feelings (Gudykunst, Ting-Toomey & Chua, 1988). Often, a passive style of communication is associated with low self esteem (Gudykunst, Ting-Toomey & Chua, 1988). By acknowledging a concern with the neighbors behavior without choosing to address the concern, a passive communication style is currently in place. If...
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...he neighbor, preferably in person, while clearly and concisely explaining how their noise level negatively impacts life. In closing, an assertive communicator would also request the neighbor to be more aware and respectful in the future.
At the end of the day, an assertive approach to communication is clearly the option for the undergraduate student which will likely work out best in the long run. A passive approach is unlikely to yield any results whatsoever. A passive-aggressive approach to communication is likely to inflame the situation if the neighbor is offended and decides to double-down on disruptive activities. Whereas an aggressive approach can often lead into a full-blown confrontation. While there is no guarantee the noisy neighbor will be one hundred percent cooperative, an assertive approach is the best foundation to conflict resolution.
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