Personal Conflict Management : Theory and Practice book cover
2nd Edition

Personal Conflict Management
Theory and Practice

ISBN 9781138210998
Published October 6, 2017 by Routledge
360 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Personal Conflict Management, 2nd edition details the common causes of conflict, showcases the theories that explain why conflict happens, presents strategies for managing conflict, and invites consideration of the risks of leaving conflict unsettled. This book also explores how gender, race, culture, generation, power, emotional intelligence, and trust affect how individuals perceive conflict and choose conflict tactics. Detailed attention is given to the role of listening and both competitive and cooperative negotiation tactics. Separate chapters explain how to deal with bullies and conflict via social media. The volume caps off its investigation of interpersonal conflict with chapters that: provide tools to analyze one’s conflicts and better choose strategic responses; examine the role of anger and apology during conflict; explore mediation technique; and evaluate how conflict occurs in different situations such as family, intimacy, work, and social media.

Table of Contents


List of Toolbox Resources

List of Cases



SECTION I • Interpersonal Conflict Causes and Patterns 1

1 Conflict in Everyday Life

What is interpersonal conflict?

Interpersonal conflict is a struggle

Interpersonal conflict occurs among a small number of people

Interpersonal conflict requires at least a minimum amount of interdependence

Conflict includes interference with goal achievement

Conflict is perceived

Interpersonal conflict is different from argument

Seven assumptions about interpersonal conflict

Beneficial aspects of interpersonal conflict


Chapter resources

2 Conflict Management Theories

The purpose of theory

Nature versus nurture

Communication theory

Theories influencing conflict management studies

Early ideas about conflict

Post-World War II Influences on conflict theory

Constructive and destructive conflict

Attribution theory

Exchange theory

Interaction theories

Systems theory


Chapter resources

3 Competitive and Cooperative Conflict Approaches

The competitive world

The cooperative approach

Interests versus positions

Which approach to conflict is best?

Supportive and defensive climates


Chapter resources


4 Causes of Conflict

Conflict topics are not necessarily conflict causes

Conflict behaviors are motivated by reasons that make sense

Conflict behaviors are learned

Goal interference causes conflict

Four main goals during conflict

Content goals

Process goals

Relationship goals

Image/face goals

Perception patterns affect how goals are interpreted

Goals are dynamic

Skills to enhance goal analysis and development


Chapter resources

5 How Sex/Gender, Race, Culture, and Generation Affect Conflict




High/low-cultural context

Collectivism and individualism

Cultural conflict management style

Age and generation

The taking of privilege

Mastering conflict management research


Chapter resources

6 How Power, Trust, and Humor Affect Conflict


Distributive power

Situational power

Integrative power

Power management



Sources of conflict patterns


Chapter resources

SECTION II: Conflict Management Skills

7 Listening and seeking information

The listening process

Barriers to effective listening

Listening in competitive and cooperative bargaining

Types of listening

Eight steps for effective listening during conflict

Consciously choose the conflict management mindset

Give the other person your momentary full attention

Evaluate which type of listening best fits the situation

Deal with emotions before dealing with substance

Ask questions to get information

Give information the other person needs to know

Frame or reframe onto common ground where agreement is possible

Check mutual understanding while problem solving


Chapter resources

8 Conflict Style and Emotional Intelligence

What is style?

Personality styles

The Meyers Briggs Type Indicator

The Gregorc styles Model

Social style model

Conflict management styles

The five styles of conflict management

Three conflict management styles

Conflcit Styles across cultures

Communication styles that impact conflict

Escalators and fractionators

Conversational style

Emotional Intelligence

Transforming dysfunctional communication


Chapter resources


9 Negotiation

What is negotiation?

Contrasting approaches to negotiation

Competitive negotiation

Ineffective competition versus effective competition

Ineffective competition versus effective competition

Competitive negotiation tactics

Cooperative negotiation

Preparing for cooperative negotiation

Cooperative negotiation tactics

The choices negotiators make

Moving from competition to cooperation

Tactics to move competitors to collaboration


Chapter resources

10 Conflict Assessment

Understanding conflict from the inside out

Simpler conflict analysis tools

Locating goal interference


Comprehensive conflict analysis tools

Comprehensive conflict checklist

Conflict road map

Awareness wheel

The imagined interaction

Transformation is the key to changing conflict


Chapter resources

SECTION III: Conflict in Specialized Circumstances

11 Bullies and Difficult People

An overview of difficult encounters

Critical insights about difficult people

The first critical insight: Distrust first impressions

The second critical insight: You can be the change agent

The third critical insight: Build self awareness

The fourth critical insight: Look for hidden interests

Skills when facing difficult encounters

Four-step feedback

Dealing with interruptions

Responding to unearned criticism


Defining bullying

School bullying

Workplace bullying

Causes of bullying

The bullying process


Strategies for victims


Chapter resources

12 Mediation and Other Conflict Interventions

Approaches to solving conflict

Power-based intervention

Rights-based intervention

Interest-based intervention

Conflict coaching

Third-party resolution processes


Why mediate?

Benefits and disadvantages of mediation

Mediator responsibilities

Mediator approaches

Intervention styles

Outcome styles

The balanced model of mediation

The opening statement


Agenda building

Problem solving

Testing and writing the agreement



Chapter resources


13 Managing the Aftermath: Anger, Apology, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation


Anger and strong emotions

The recipient of anger or strong emotions


Fake, semi, and sincere apologies

Culturally appropriate apologies

Barriers to apology

The strategic side of apology


Defining forgiveness

Forgiving versus unforgiving

Benefits of forgiving

Actions leading to forgiveness


Defining reconciliation

When reconciliation is right


Chapter resources

SECTION IV: Conflict in Context

14 Families and Conflict


The family as a communication system

Role of communication in families

Types of families

Stories sustain family identity

Rules structure family behavior

Communication affects satisfaction levels

Conflict and the family

Conflicts topics and causes change as families change

Patterns of family conflict

Judgmental biases and conflict

Privacy management

The dark side of family conflict

Conflict management skills for families

What makes a family strong?


Chapter resources


15 Conflict in Intimate Relationships

Common topics among intimates

Conflict in relationships: Good or bad?

The Cascade model and the "Four Horsemen"

Emotional disengagement

Gender and personality factors in relationships

Understanding relationship conflict: Lifespan, types and patterns

Relationship maintenance

When conflict turns violent


Chapter resources


16 Conflict in the Workplace

The workplace is a unique context

Workplace communication

The nature of groups




Conflict in the work setting

Causes of workplace conflict

Effects of conflict in the workplace

Preventing and managing conflict at work

Emotional intelligence and privacy management

Conflict management from the supervisor/leader’s viewpoint

Conflict management from the employee’s viewpoint


Group conflict

Conflict management systems


Chapter resources


17 Conflict and Social Media

The world of social Media

Theories of online behavior

Facebook and conflict

Cyberbullying and drama



Chapter resources




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Suzanne McCorkle is an Emerita Professor of Public Policy and Administration, as well as Director of Conflict Management Studies at Boise State University.

Melanie J. Reese is Dispute Resolution Coordinator for the Idaho Department of Education and Professor Emerita at Boise State University.



A great choice for both undergraduate and graduate courses, Personal Conflict Management provides essential skills for a variety of situations, including timely topics like bullying and generational differences. This highly practical and well researched text is invaluable for understanding conflict management in the modern world.

- Heidi Reeder, Ph.D., Boise State University, USA

Personal Conflict Management: Theory and Practice, second edition offers exceptional treatment of interpersonal conflict and its management. It is distinctive in its discussion of bullying, as well as apologies. Clearly written with concise discussion scenarios makes the book easy to use in undergraduate conflict management courses. 

-Colleen M. Keough, Ph.D., University of Southern California, USA