Communication Process in Conflict Management


Extensive researches and studies have been conducted on the methods, strategies, and techniques of managing conflicts in life. Some writers opt to refer to it as conflict resolution, while others call it Conflict Management. Actually there is a very thin line between these concepts. The two have quite often been used rather interchangeably and more or less confusingly. In this essay, however, not everything tackling on conflict management and resolution is discussed. A few of the written literatures and research findings have been critically observed to help explain a technical theme in this piece of work.Yes, we have heard much from authors like Ruth Anna Abigail and Dudley D. Cahn (Ruth, A, & Dudley D, 2010).Also given much attention while writing this essay are the ideas and opinions from individuals and group discussions on how the principles , concepts and suggestions borrowed from literary works , findings and suggestions, can be applied in the real life situation.

Key Concepts in Conflict Management

Conflict management is a concept that has been explained differently by different authors. According to Ruth Anna and Dudley D. Cahn, Conflict Management can be defined as the diversity of ways by which people cope up with the ongoing intractable disagreements (Ruth, A, & Dudley, D, 2010).A Conflict is a situation which poses two or more contradicting values, perspectives or opinions. People may have conflicting views within themselves or amongst themselves. How we manage such continuous conflicting views, ideas, opinions, value and believes is what has been termed as conflict management (Ruth, A, & Dudley, D, 2010).

The terms Conflict Management and Conflict Resolution have often been used rather distinctively and interchangeably. The latter refers to the process of trying to live with the current conflicting conditions in a more tolerable or bearable way. This implies that the conflict may never have an amicable solution, but we have to learn how to live with it. The former connotes that a solution can possibly be found to end the conflict. This involves resolving a dispute, as approved by the conflicting parties involved.

What the Authors say about Conflict Management

Reading from the writings of Ruth and Dudley, conflict is part and parcel of life, it is “a fact of life”, and therefore inevitable (Ruth, A, & Dudley, D, 2010).These authors emphasizes that the one sure way of dealing with conflicts in life is through effective communication, ranging from intrapersonal communication level to an organizational or even public level. Acquiring the communication skills is thus as important as managing the conflicts more efficiently.

Conflict is not a problem or a kind of discomfort as others may perceive it. Ruth Ann and her research counterparts put it clear that, a conflict only becomes a problem when people fail to manage it properly. It is indeed a problem when it causes us more harm than good, lowers our morals, causes us to behave inappropriately, or leads to even worse conflict situations. How to manage the conflict correctly is therefore of much significance in every individual’s life, whether at home, in school or at the work place.

Many authors writing on conflict management and resolution have put forward several suggestions and theoretical perspectives on how conflicts can be managed at different levels, and in every sphere of life. Among them are Ruth and Dudley whose works seem to have contributed quite significantly in the study of Conflict Management. Among such common suggestions are good communication skills, accepting and accommodating the conflict as part of life, using or taking it as an opportunity to better the future, approaching the conflict in a logical and sequential manner, assessing it from all angles and levels, this list is by no means exhausted.

Critical suggestions in Managing Conflict

It has widely been suggested that communication is the hallmark to conflict management. In their book titled “Managing Conflict through Communication”, Ruth Anna Abigail and Dudley D.Cahn, explains elaborately how important communication is in managing conflict. They view conflict management partly as a process that involves the use of communication principles and strategies to keep the conflict situation at bar. They, however, note that communication can either be productive or destructive in managing a conflict (Ruth, A, & Dudley, D, 2010).

For such reasons as the possibility of destruction through communication in managing a conflict, they gave a pretty long list of suggestions. These are inclusive of, defining interpersonal conflict, avoiding the negative view of conflict, identifying the problems, needs or issues concomitant to the conflict, talking about them with others, confronting the situation, considering other persons views and/or opinions, coming to a mutual understanding, and reaching an agreement, following up the possible solutions (Ruth, A, & Dudley, D, 2010)..

Discussion and Conclusion

Having been informed that conflict is part of life, and that it is not a problem until we make it so i.e. through poor communication and management, we are bound to polish our communication skills. This will help us in implementing the principles, ideas and suggestions that have been put forth to assist people in managing conflicts.

With better communication skills, we become good listeners and communicators in different contexts. We know better when to say what, why and how, so that what we say should not be destructive, but productive. Understanding the conflict from different angles has also been suggested as an important principle.So, we need to know the cause of the conflict, the possible solutions to it, what others know about it and what they suggest, the key areas that we tend to agree with others and those that constantly keep us apart in disagreements. With the understanding of all these, we are likely to be on the right track in managing a conflict.

Besides good communication and understanding of the conflict, we have also been enlightened by Ruth and Dudley that defining the conflict at interpersonal level is also of importance in managing the conflict. Interpersonal here implies that as much as we understand ourselves, we should also have a better understanding of the other parties that may be involved in the conflict. Their values, attitudes, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, and cultural norms. In this way, we would be able to reduce the chances of interpersonal disagreements or conflicts.


Ruth, A, & Dudley, D. Managing Conflict through Communication.4th Ed. Pearson.Inc.2010