Conflict Management Conflict Management

Why the study of conflict is important

Key elements of conflict

The nature of conflict

Variables in the study of conflict

Skills for conflict managers

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Variables in the Study of Conflict

Power Climate
Goals Cultural Assumptions
Gender Strategies and Tactics
Perception Style

Climate and Perception   

The concept of communication climate, developed by Gibb in the 1960's, has been adapted by several scholars as a tool for explaining how certain communication behaviors deter productive conflict management and create environments where perception is negatively charged. Folger, Poole, and Stutman (1997) describe communication climate as “the prevailing temper, attitudes, and outlook of a dyad, group, or organization” (p. 153).  


Gibb's Defensive Climate Behaviors

Gibb's Supportive Climate Behaviors

  • Evaluative

  • Descriptive
  • Controlling

  • Focused on the problem
  • Strategic
  • Spontaneous
  • Neutral
  • Empathic toward the other person
  • Superior
  • Equal
  • Certain
  • Provisional

The behaviors in defensive climates create an environment where communication is threatening. Behaviors in supportive climates create spaces where trust can develop. In a defensive climate, gestures intended to be calming and productive are likely to be perceived as strategic and superior. There also is a noticeable overlap between the behaviors in defensive climates and in competitive conflict styles and between supportive climates and collaborative conflict styles.  

It is difficult to manage conflict appropriately in climates where mistrust abounds.  

Sources for the perception variable discussion include Borisoff and Victor, 1997.  


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