COMM 324 Wiki

Leadership and Conflict Management

Charis Cranford, Devon Mclendon, Mikayla Steinkamp, Danesh Dubash, Priscilla Ruiz

Howdy! This is a wiki detailing leadership and conflict concepts and providing understandable examples.

Week 1: Identity

A heavy factor involved in conflict in communication is our social identity. According to Folger, Poole, and Stutman (2013), social identity consists of the larger social groups we are a part of that we use to categorize and define ourselves. These groups can be based on, but are not limited to, nationality, ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation, and age (Lavoie, 2015). Our identity is also affected by the groups that we are not included in. Say for instance you are assigned to a team of people who can speak Spanish and you cannot. This may create a communication barrier between you and the others and contrasting backgrounds can bring about conflict. This can stem from differing views, beliefs, and practices. The best way to avoid such conflict is to understand that all parties will be bringing in various preconceived notions and ingrained ideas and beliefs, and that we must all be flexible in our communication in order to reach some level of understanding (Miladinovic, 2014).

Below is an example of a woman who identifies with several groups. She focuses on her role as a student, her heritage as a Jamaican, and as an urban black woman. This causes her to change her style of communicating for each context so as to better assimilate to the environment and avoid miscommunication and conflict. She also explores the difficulty in consolidating the components of her identity and the problems that present themselves when she is unsure of what role to take. (See 3 Ways to Speak English below)

Many of us deal with the same struggles since separate parts of our identity can clash with other parts, and more often clash with the beliefs or actions of those around us.

Works Cited

Joseph Folger, M. P. (2013). Working through conflict: Strategies for relationships, groups, and organizations. Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Lavoie, S. (2015). Self Identity: Theory & Definition. Retrieved from

Lyiscott, Jamila. (2014, February). 3 ways to speak English. Retrieved from TED Talks:

Miladinovic, M. (2014, June 27). Overcoming Obstacles in Intercultural Communication. Retrieved from AFS Intercultural Programs: ICL blog:

(Week 1 Completed by: Priscilla Ruiz)

Week 2: Styles of Conflict Management

Conflict is a part of life. Conflict Management involves finding the best method, style, way to deal with conflict in any given situation or time period. The trick in life, in business, in world affairs, is to learn to handle conflict. As long as there is more than one person involved in any situation, there will always be conflict.

Handling Conflict. As a helpful exercise, take the Conflict Resolution Style Survey shown towards the bottom of this webpage: . Each person has a different style of dealing with conflict at certain times and with certain people. It is rarely static though someone may have style preferences that they are most comfortable with. This survey demonstrates the many choices that might be presented when handling conflict rather than restricting an answer to one method.

Competing Style. “This style is marked by a primary emphasis on satisfying the party’s own concerns and disregard of others’ concerns” (Folger, Poole, & Stutman). This style is the characteristic “I must win at all costs” mindset which is so damaging to relationships. There are two forms of competing style: forcing and contending. While they may provide different manifestations, they are still both considered competing.

Compromising Style. “Compromising attempts to find an intermediate position or trade-off through which parties can achieve some important goals in exchange for foregoing others” (Folger, Poole, & Stutman). Compromising is most commonly thought of as “split the difference”. Neither party wins, both parties lose a little, but it tends to be easy unless the stakes are high. There are two forms of compromising style: firm compromising and flexible compromising.

Collaborating Style. Collaboration is favored “because its goal is to develop a solution that meets all of the important needs of both parties” (Folger, Poole, & Stutman). Collaboration tends to be the most time-consuming and hardest style to use in order to achieve the most fruitful results. Collaborating takes creativity, patience, and a willingness to listen. If a situation can be resolved using collaboration, it yields the greatest advantages in the realm of relationship outcomes.

Accommodating Style. “An accommodating style permits others to realize their concerns but gives little attention to the party’s own concerns” (Folger, Poole, & Stutman). Accommodating gives the other party what they want but often results in an escalation of demands because the other party realizes it has control and power. There are two forms of accommodating style: yielding and conceding.

Avoiding Style. “Parties who avoid conflict show low levels of concern for their own and for other parties’ interests” (Folger, Poole, & Stutman). This style is the characteristic “flight” behavior. A person using the avoiding style will do almost anything in order to get out of the situation. Apathy may also be a manifestation of this style. There are several variations within the avoiding style: protecting, withdrawing, and smoothing.

Next time you find yourself involved in a conflict, of any kind, in any situation, take a moment and think about how to proceed. Don’t let ingrained habits overtake the possibilities of great results.

For more information on each style, check out the links below.

Conflict Management within an organizational situation deals with the same issues within the business setting. Rahim (2002) states that "...conflict must not necessarily be reduced, suppressed, or eliminated, but managed to enhance organizational learning and effectiveness." In order to manage conflict effectively, you must understand the styles that you embrace but also the styles that others around you are most comfortable using.

Folger, J.P., Poole, M.S., & Stutman, R.K. (2013) Working through conflict: strategies for

relationships, groups, and organizations. Boston: Pearson

Rahim, M.A. (1983) "A Measure of Styles of Handling Interpersonal Conflict", Academy of Management Journal, 26(2), 368-376

Rahim, M.A. (2002) "Toward a Theory of Managing Organizational Conflict", International Journal of Conflict Management, 13(3), 206-235

(Week 2 Completed by: Charis Cranford)

Week 4: Superordinate Goal Technique

What exactly is Superordinate Goal Technique and why/how is it effective? Superordinate goals are goals that both parties want to achieve—also known as a common goal. According to Hunger and Stern, “It is a goal of high appeal value for (conflicting) groups . . . , but whose attainment is beyond the resources and efforts of any one group alone” (592). They are saying that both groups have to work together to reach their goals. Often times, two opposing parties are not effective at being efficient because they are constantly battling one another in order to achieve their goal. This is ineffective because in doing this, neither sides are able to attain their goals. If they do attain them, it was not efficient and most likely took more time than what was originally needed.

This technique is effective because it simply eliminates struggles that two opposing sides may have by connecting and getting rid of the competition aspect. In other words, this technique is successful in removing intergroup conflict, “The term ‘intergroup relations’ refers to the relations between two or more groups and their respective members” (Sherif 350). More specifically, according to Rico, Sanchez- Manzanares, Antino, and Lau, superordinate goal technique terminates the conflict by “creating a team-level common goal ns a recategorization strategy aimed to make the original in-subgroup/out-subgroup distinction less salient by integrating separated subgroups into a new common group” (409).

This technique, if implemented correctly and in the right situation, “… may reduce subgroup categorization in fault line teams by lowering comparative fit, promoting group welfare, and increasing subgroup cooperation” (Rico, Sanchez- Manzanares, Antino, Lau, 409). These are all overall positives in terms of group advancement and effectiveness.

Even with so many positives, comes a few negatives, “Despite the expected benefits of superordinate goals, research has also reported negative effects of introducing a superordinate goal structure in teams with active subgroups” (Rico, Sanchez- Manzanares, Antino, Lau, 409). If implemented into the wrong situation it can possibly result in negative outcomes for both opposing groups.

Works Cited

"Bridging Team Faultlines By Combining Task Role Assignment And Goal Structure Strategies." Journal Of Applied Psychology 97.2 (n.d.): 407-420. Social Sciences Citation Index. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.

Hunger, J. David, and Louis W. Stern. "An Assessment Of The Functionality Of The Superordinate Goal In Reducing Conflict." Academy Of Management Journal 19.4 (1976): 591-605. Business Source Complete. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.

Sherif, Muzafer. "Superordinate Goals in the Reduction of Intergroup Conflict." American Journal of Sociology 1958: 349. JSTOR Journals. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.

(Week 4 Completed By: Mikayla Steinkamp)

Robbers Cave Experiment

Week 5: Stages of Conflict

In the first chapter of the book, Working through Conflict, a simple two-stage model was introduced to explain and understand conflict interaction. As we read on, the third chapter recognizes that those are not the only two ways to do so and highlights other theorists and their models. These models encompass a wide range of conflicts and describe how they emerge and progress over time.

Rummel’s Five-Stage Model.

1) Initially conflict is latent: due to the fact that leaders tend hold different positions and attitudes on certain ideas it tends to carry a potential for conflict. It is said that differences in values, ethics and beliefs increase the chance for future conflict.

2) During the initial stages if a “triggering event” (pg.76) occurs then we can expect the parties to react and use these differences as a basis for conflict.

3) After the conflict has been started it moves into what the book calls “Open Conflict” (pg.76). In this stage both parties attempt to Asses the potential and the willingness of either side to act on this conflict. During this stage parties attempt to confront the issues at hand before trying to settle it.

4) If a settlement is reached a “balance in power” (pg.76) is established where the consequences of the resolution are recognized and the outcome is lived with. This stage is characterized by the idea that this will last a long time, but can easily revert back to a conflict when circumstances change.

5) In the last stage of this model the changes result in a “disruption stage” (pg.76) where parties realize that the stage is set for conflict to once again arise if a new triggering event occurs.

Pondy’s Model.

1) Conflict is latent when issues such as an insufficient amount of resources or divergent goals come about. The parties have not yet recognized these.

2) When these issues reach people awareness, the parties are considered to be in the “perceived conflict stage” (pg.77). Pondy, however recognizes that this conflict stage can also come about if no latent conflict exist. A misunderstanding between the party’s positions brings about the conflict.

3) After this parties enter into a stage of “felt conflict”(pg.77) this shifts how the parties feel about each other. Emotions tend to be prominent in this stage of the conflict.

4) “Manifest conflict” (pg77) is the fourth stage where act on the perceived and felt differences. What this means is they do something about it, which may even escalate the situation if not handled correctly.

5) The last stage of the conflict is the “aftermath stage” (pg.77) in this stage new relationships are formed due to how the manifest conflict is handled. This stage has a moment of reflection where parties assess their outcomes, both positive and negative.

Stage Models of Negotiation.

1) In the first stage of this model distributive bargaining occurs, here the parties check the reliability and feasibility of the demands being made. They establish criteria for the settlements and check the strength and validity of each side’s case. Here parties fulfill their roles as the representatives of a side.

2) In the second stage, parties go through “problem solving” (pg.77) in this stage they attempt to find a solution that will satisfy the criteria’s that have been placed and attempt to create a working relationship by proposing and evaluation potential solutions.

3) In the final stage “decision making” (pg.77) occurs, in this stage parties reach an agreement on some of their terms. The focus here is reality checking where they want to make sure that whatever decisions made is feasible and implemented on both parties.

The video below explains some of the terms that I have used here in more detail.

Work Cited:

Rubin, Jeffrey Z., and Bert R. Brown. The Social Psychology of Bargaining and Negotiation. New York: Academic, 1975. Print.

Rummel, Rudolph J. "29." Understanding Conflict and War. Vol. 2. New York: John Wiley, 1975. N. pag. Print

Lewicki, Roy J., Stephen E. Weiss, and David Lewin. Models of Conflict, Negotiation and Third Party Intervention: A Review and Synthesis. Columbus, OH: College of Business, Ohio State U, 1988. Print.

Folger, Joseph P., Marshall Scott Poole, and Randall K. Stutman. Working through Conflict: Strategies for Relationships, Groups, and Organizations. New York: Longman, 1997. Print.

(week 5 completed by: Danesh Dubash)

Week 6: Inappropriate Uses of Humor & Jokes

When asked to define what exactly "humor" is, often people will give responses that directly state humor is the use of a joke, or the causation of laughter. As stated by Andrew Tarvin, "all jokes are comedy, and all comedy is humor, but not all humor is comedy and certainly not all jokes" (A. Tarvin). Humor takes many other forms, such as situational comedy (amusing someone lightheartedly in the workplace, for instance), and other instances of amusement that one would not necessarily see in a stand-up comedy routine, or even in a casual joking conversation with friends.

While not all forms of humor jokes, all forms of jokes are considered to be humor by this definition. By this, it can be said that the four types of humor (affiliative, self-enhancing, self-defeating, and aggressive) can also be used to describe types of jokes, as there exist jokes which fit into each type of category. Specifically, a wide array of jokes fit into the category of aggressive humor, defined to be the following by Piotr Pluta in his article, "Different People, Different Ways of Using Humor -- The Humor Styles Questionnaire"

Agressive Humor: using humor to disparage, manipulate or threat others; it is destructive for group cohesion and can lead to in-group divisions and suffering of certain individuals

(Piotr Pluta, "Different People, Different Ways of Using Humor -- The Humor Styles Questionnaire").

Essentially, aggressive jokes would consist of jokes meant to jokingly, albeit directly, making fun of another person or group of people, rather than build positive relations between people as the other humor styles are meant to function. For this reason, it is widely believed that aggressive humor styles and aggressive jokes do not belong in professional settings such as the workplace. The implication of this is that more serious forms of aggressive jokes such as jokes involving prejudice or implications of hatred; specifically in this entry, misogyny and racism.

The use of these types of jokes and humor not only increases tension between groups of

people (men and women, and different racial groups respectively), but often lead to much larger and more dangerous implications. As highlighted in a Study of Sport in Society by Northeastern University, there is a "pyramid of misogyny" specific to sports and athletic culture among professional organizations of athletes such as the NBA, NFL, etc., where different aspects of misogyny are stacked amongst each other in a pyramid format (pictured below) to illustrate how simply aggressions against women lead to much more apparently dangerous acts such as abuse of women, sexual assault of women, and ultimately feticide (the murder of women). Particularly, the base of the pyramid is made up of more discrete forms of misogyny and sexism including objectification of women, sexist language, and particularly, the very base of the pyramid is the use of sexist jokes. While jokes as a type of humor are often see as being amusing and whimsical, it is often difficult to point out the aggressive undertones that embody sexist jokes. A study out of Western Carolina University found that "exposure to sexist humor can lead to toleration of hostile feelings and discrimination against women" (Western Carolina University). This case of sexism in jokes is not only demeaning to women; it implies a general cultural attitude that if sexism is okay to be joked about, that sexism is then tolerated, and perhaps even encouraged. While it is often hard to remove the intrinsic sexist attitudes in modern American culture specifically, it is important to be wary of how something that could be seen as "just a joke" can imply much more than what meets the eye.

This same process applied to racist attitudes making appearances in jokes and humor as well; Franchesca Ramsey states in the video "How Do You Handle a Racist Joke?" (attached below) that racist humor is not the use of jokes which offend people, but jokes which are oppressive in nature, and thus reinforce negative stereotypes among specific groups of people. It is important to note this distinction:

Offensive Jokes: jokes which hurt feelings or make people uncomfortable

Oppressive Jokes: jokes which are not only offensive, but reinforce negative stereotypes on marginalized groups of people

According to another study from Western Carolina University, the use of racist/sexist/other jokes which are oppressive in nature often influence people's opinion to the point that the use of these jokes correlates to an increase in the negative public perception of the marginalized group in question. It is for this reason that the importance of how powerful offensive and oppressive jokes can be. They are a specific subset of aggressive humor to the point where they are not only discouraged to be used in the workplace due to a certain level of uncomfortable 'unprofessionalism,' but that they have the power to negatively affect large groups of marginalized people within society that are already at a disadvantage when compared to those who are privileged.

Works Cited:

How Do You Handle a Racist Joke? Prod. MTV News. Perf. Franchesca Ramsey. YouTube, 1 July 2015. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.

Northeastern University: Center for the Study of Sport in Society. "The Pyramid of Misogyny." Northeastern University. Northeastern University: Center for the Study of Sport in Society, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.

Pluto, Piotr. "Different People, Different Ways of Using Humor – the Humor Styles Questionnaire." Psychology of Humor. N.p., 24 Oct. 2013. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.

Tarvin, Andrew. "How to Use Humor: The Humor MAP." How to Use Humor: The Humor MAP. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.

Tarvin, Andrew. "What Is Humor?" What Is Humor? N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.

Western Carolina University. "Sexist Humor No Laughing Matter, Psychologist Says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2007. <>.

(Week 6 Completed by: Devon McLendon)

Big image
How Do You Handle a Racist Joke? | Decoded | MTV News

Week 7: Semester Wrap Up- Types of Humor

Affiliative humor is defind by ‘humor used to amuse others to enhance relationships in a way that is benign and not hurtful. Involves humor that is non-hostile; can be used to reduce tension in a social setting; is generally affirming of self and others.”(Arnie. Cann, Adam. Cann, Jordan 4). An example of Affiliative humor would be if someone asked “What would you call a fish with a tie on?” “soFISHticated”. This joke is something that everyone might find funny. It is meant to be humorous, not hurtful or rude.

(Done by Mikayla Steinkamp)

Self-defeating humor is defined by Riggio (2015) as "putting yourself down in an aggressive or 'poor me' fashion". This type of humor can be harmful to your sense of self and is often used as an avoidance mechanism in the sense that you are making yourself the target of a joke before someone else can (Riggio, 2015). It can also be used by people in a position of power in order to humanize themselves to their audience or connect with their followers.

(Done by Priscilla Ruiz)

Self-enhansing humor is defined as having the ability to laugh at your self when something bad is happening to you. this type of humor attempts to find humor in everyday situations, making your self the target of the humor in a good natured way. This is a good way to help with coping with stress. A prominent user of this type of humor is, Jon Stewart. He uses statements such as "maybe I just don't understand" to convey the absurdities of the topics he is discussing.

(Done by Danesh Dubash)

When to Use Humor (MAP)

MAP may be defined as:

By what method is the humor going to be given to and received by the audience.

Who is the recipient of the humor? What is their culture? Is it a group? If so, how large or small? What has that person or group gone through?

Why are you using humor? What do you hope to accomplish?

The brilliant humorist, Andrew Tarvin states, "Humor relies on doing something a little bit different, creating a bit of surprise. If you don't know what an audience already knows and expects, you can't relate to them while also surprising them."

Humor can be used at any time, in any place, though as advertisers would caution "results may vary." What one person finds funny, someone else may be offended at. While funerals don't lend themselves to comedy, small bits of humor may lighten the mood.

Context and location are vitally important. You must pay attention to body language, facial expressions, situational factors, and personal history. To gain the best results from the use of humor, make certain that it is helpful, not hurtful.

(Humor presented by Charis Cranford)

Works Cited

Pluta, Piotr. "Different People, Different Ways of Using Humor." Psychology of Humor RSS2. N.p., 4 Oct. 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Cann, A. ( 1 ), J.A. ( 1 ) Jordan, and A.T. ( 2 ) Cann. "Understanding The Effects Of Exposure To Humor Expressing Affiliative And Aggressive Motivations." Motivation And Emotion (2015): 10p.. Scopus®. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.

Riggio, R. (2015, April 14). The 4 Styles of Humor. Retrieved from Psychology Today:

Zelizer, C. (2010). “Laughing our Way to Peace or War: Humour and Peacebuilding” [online article]. Journal of Conflictology. Vol. 1, Iss. 2. Campus for Peace, UOC. [Consulted: 11/18/2015].