Department of Communication

Myths About Conflict

Defining Conflict: An expressed struggle between at least interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from others in achieving their goals.

Myths about Conflict

Myth: Harmony is normal, conflict is abnormal.
Reality: Conflict an inevitable and normal part of the cycle of enduring relationships.

Myth: Conflict is the same as disagreement.
Reality: Conflicts are more serious than disagreements. They require more investment.

Myth: Conflict should never be escalated.
Reality: Sometimes productive management requires that the conflict be made larger so it can be fully addressed.

Myth: Managing conflict should be orderly and polite.
Reality: Overly nice communication can result in insincere exchange. Productive conflict management is often disorderly, chaotic, and confusing.

Myth: Anger is the primary emotion of conflict.
Reality: Many emotions affect conflict.

Myth: One should find the right way to resolve conflict—fight, vote, litigate, appeal to authority.
Reality: These are “Win-Lose “strategies. “Win-Win,” collaborative, consensus seeking approaches often work best for both parties.

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