Interpersonal Conflict

Interpersonal Conflict

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Hocker (1991) defined conflict and specifically interpersonal conflict as an expressed struggle involving a minimum of two interdependent individuals who have incompatible goals, scarce resources, and they perceive obstruction from the other party in achieving their goals. Hocker’s definition of conflict is criticized for its ambiguity. Rather than being a source of incompatible goals, conflict is caused by incompatible positions. When the term power is used in connection with communications between opponents, it is understood to mean the ability to control some other individual’s behavior (Burgoon & Dunbar, 2006). Individual perception is an important key concept to understanding the origin of conflict between parties. Conflict has also been de-fined as “a breakdown in the standard mechanisms of decision-making so that an individual or group experiences difficulty in selecting an action alternative” March and Simon (1993). Jehn and Mannix (2001) described conflict of an interpersonal nature as a recognition shared by two people in a dispute that they have irreconcilable needs, incompatible goals, and incongruity. During group situations, conflict frequently manifests itself when members of the group express opposing opinions and goals (Eisenhardt & Schoonhoven, 1990). Research by Amason (1996) revealed that conflict manifests itself in a group’s decision-making processes in spite of everyone in the group sharing the same goals. Amason (1996) and later Jehn (1999) theorized the reason for this disconnect was due to each person in the group having their own unique perspectives, varying levels of knowledge, and different life experiences that created an environment ripe for the collision of values.
Interpersonal conflict is viewed by a vast majority of people as dysfunctional and costly to companies because of the time and money spent on conflict resolution strategies. Furthermore, many believe conflict stifles performance, reduces group cohesion, and it ultimately hinders the process of decision-making (Gladstein, 1984).
Language also ascribes negative attributes to the word conflict. Typically, dysfunctional be-haviors whether they are verbal or physical like disputes, quarrels or hostilities -- all are associated with the word “conflict.” With the word “conflict” being used in great abundance globally to describe

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