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Dealing with Conflict
Matthew L. Eisenhard, Psy.D.
Week 6: Psychology for Business & Industry
◦ TRANSACTIONAL ANALYSIS
A way for determining how people interact.
It is common for people to disagree.
Dealing with emotions - your own and others – is
part of Emotional Intelligence.
Is standing up for your own rights – without pushing
◦ CONFLICT MANAGEMENT
Is a critical skill in being successful and productive.
Transactional Analysis (T/A)
• Is a method of understanding behavior in
▫ International Transactional Analysis Association:
• Developed by Eric Berne – 1960 used in
psychiatry and social psychology – and carried
over into human relations.
▫ Ego States.
▫ Types Of Transactions.
▫ Life Positions And Stroking.
T/A Ego States
• Self-assessment exercise 6.1
According to Berne there are 3
MAJOR EGO STATES that effect
our behavior and the way we communicate.
You may have one preferred style…but
They can fluctuate during a day, or even during the
course of a single communication transaction –
depending on the purpose – the other person – the
situation – etc.
T/A – Ego States
PARENT EGO STATE
◦ CRITICAL PARENT
Makes responses that are critical, judgmental,
opinionated, demanding, disapproving, etc.
Use lots of “dos and don’ts” in conversations.
Autocratic managers use this style because they are high
in task-directive communication.
◦ SYMPATHETIC PARENT
Makes reassuring responses that are protective,
permissive, consoling, nurturing, etc.
Managers using the consultative and
participative styles use this type of
communication because they are high
in supportive-relationship behaviors.
T/A – Ego States
CHILD EGO STATE
◦ NATURAL CHILD
Responds with probing style showing
curiosity, intimacy, fun, joy, fantasy,
Successful managers tend not to operate
from this state on a regular basis.
◦ ADAPTED CHILD
Responds with aggression, confrontation,
rebelliousness, pouting, anger, fear, anxiety,
inadequacy, procrastination, etc.
Managers need to avoid this style.
It results in emotional responses and similar behaviors.
If a manager encounters this style they need to respond with
the adult ego state style.
T/A – Ego States
ADULT EGO STATE
◦ Responses are rational, logical, and unemotional.
◦ Adults gather information, use critical thinking skills.
◦ Remains calm, cool, and collected.
◦ Adults avoid becoming the victim by controlling the situation
◦ This is generally the most effective style of communication.
◦ It is always good to assess the style of others when
communicating with them – it will help you understand their
actions – and make the right type of response accordingly.
Adult = adult.
Child = parent.
Sometimes it’s okay to let go and have fun from the child ego
state – it depends on the situation!
Types of Transactions
Within The Ego States There Are 3 Types Of Transactions
◦ COMPLEMENTARY (SUPPORT EACH OTHER)
When the sender of the message gets the intended response from the
Generally the most effective communication with less hurt feelings and
◦ CROSSED (MISSES THE MARK)
When the sender does not get the expected response from the receiver.
Generally result in surprise, disappointment, and hurt feelings for the
◦ ULTERIOR (HIDDEN AGENDAS)
Hidden messages – the words seem to come from one ego state, but in
reality they are coming from another.
Sometimes people don’t know how to ask for what they want directly, so
they use ulterior methods to get their message across.
Usually best to avoid this style – they waste time and cause problems.
T/A – Life Positions
• LIFE POSITIONS
▫ Your attitudes toward yourself and others.
▫ “OK” = positive attitudes.
▫ “NOT OK” = negative attitudes.
Exhibit 6.3 - what is the best position to be in?
▫ Any behavior that implies recognition of another’s presence
– we all need validation.
It costs nothing to give people positive strokes and helps create win-win
communication which is the goal of human relations.
▫ Strokes can be…
Positive = praise, awards, raises, etc.
Negative = tearing someone down, ignoring their value and
contributions – being hurtful.
• Self-assessment 6.2
• Is the process of expressing thoughts
and feelings while asking for what you want in an
• We need to avoid the traps and pitfalls of
inappropriate styles of behavior
▫ PASSIVE BEHAVIOR – inappropriate.
▫ AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR – inappropriate.
▫ PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR –
▫ ASSERTIVE BEHAVIOR – APPROPRIATE.
◦ Passive behaviors come from an “I’m not OK” life position.
◦ Used to avoid doing something or to accommodate someone else
without standing up for yourself.
◦ Nonverbals = looking down, speaking very soft, helpless gestures,
◦ Self-denial and sacrifice attitude.
◦ Rationalizing = “it doesn’t matter anyway.”
◦ Usually internally distressed & in pain - increases one’s stress levels.
◦ Others tend to take unfair advantage of passive people.
◦ When a passive person does speak up – others usually don’t pay any
attention to them – and interrupt them frequently.
◦ Poor self-esteem and unhappy.
◦ Passivity often based in fear: of rejection, retaliation, of hurting or being hurt.
◦ It is often a result of life-long learning patterns.
◦ It is unproductive behavior.
◦ These people are rude, tough,
demanding, pushy - just not nice.
◦ Nonverbals include = glaring, frowning, talking loud,
using threatening gestures and intimidating postures.
◦ Others often just try to avoid aggressive people.
◦ They seem to be high in self-confidence – but in reality
the aggression is just a facade for a poor self-concept.
◦ They are in an “I’m not OK” life position.
◦ But try to prove to others they are by controlling them.
◦ They violate others’ rights to gain their own self-worth.
◦ Aggressive behavior on a regular basis is self-defeating
and destructive to others, and yourself.
◦ Violence is clearly aggression at its highest level.
The most difficult to understand and
deal with - say one thing and do
◦ Displayed In 3 Major Ways
Aggressive one time – passive the next .
You never know who is there… Jekyl or Hyde.
Passive during the communication.
Then aggressive later.
Displacement of hostility – meek and submissive then goes
home and kicks the dog.
Being passive by not addressing the issue of concern.
Allowing the anger to build…then exploding.
◦ Comes from the adult ego state.
◦ “I’m OK – you’re OK” life position.
◦ Assertive people protect their rights
without violating rights of others.
◦ Nonverbals = smiling, eye contact,
pleasant voice, firm gestures, and erect posture.
◦ Have a positive self-image – are not threatened by others.
◦ Do not let others control their behavior.
◦ Being assertive wins the respect of others.
◦ It is the best way to get what you want without hurting
Steps to Being
SET AN OBJECTIVE
◦ Be specific about what
DETERMINE HOW TO CREATE A WIN-WIN
◦ Assess the situation – determine what the other(s) want.
◦ Decide how you can accomplish both.
DEVELOP ASSERTIVE PHRASES
◦ Practice in advance by using some of the assertive phrases
on pg. 239.
IMPLEMENT YOUR PLAN PERSISTENTLY
◦ Use your plan and be consistent and persistent – don’t quit
or give in.
Anger & Violence in the Workplace
Anger can…. lead to violence.
Desk rage and customer rage.
◦ Yelling – verbal abuse – physical violence.
PSYCHOLOGICAL issues that cause anger.
◦ Frustration – fear – stress – personality problems.
◦ Unresolved interpersonal conflicts.
Violence is often a retaliation.
It can also be used to sabotage others by back stabbing, spreading false
Can even result in property damage to the org.
◦ Crowded work spaces – noise – odors – temperature – ventilation.
◦ A hostile work environment – called “toxicity” leads to violent behaviors.
◦ People tend to copy or model others actions.
◦ Some say drugs contribute to the growing problems.
Dealing with Anger
DEALING WITH YOUR OWN ANGER
◦ Buddha said: “you will not be punished for your
anger; you will be punished by your anger.”
◦ Don’t dwell on it…let it go…be more assertive.
◦ Develop a positive attitude.
◦ Use rational thinking.
◦ Seek the positive – look for the
good in everything.
◦ Look for appropriate humor.
◦ Practice being assertive.
◦ Count to 10 – and use positive affirmations.
◦ Keep an anger journal – self-awareness is the key.
Dealing with the Anger of Others
DEALING WITH THE ANGER OF OTHERS
◦ Don’t respond to anger with anger – STAY CALM.
◦ Don’t ever use put-down statements – it only adds fuel to
◦ Don’t give orders or issue ultimatums.
◦ Watch your nonverbal communication carefully.
Stay calm – speak softly – don’t get too close – or make sudden
◦ Realize anger is natural – encourage people to ventilate it in
◦ Validate the angry person’s feelings – use reflecting
◦ Get away from the person if needed or call in a third party
(security if available).
Preventing Workplace Violence
Workplace violence is rarely spontaneous.
It is usually a result of escalating steps due to unresolved issues.
It can be prevented if you watch for these warning signs.
◦ Verbal threats – take them seriously.
◦ Watch nonverbals – gestures and body language.
◦ Watch for stalking and harassment – nip it in
◦ Watch for damage to property – kicking a desk –
punching a wall, etc.
◦ Watch for drug and alcohol use – get tx.
◦ Include the isolated employee – alienation causes
anger & can lead to retribution.
◦ Look for presence of weapons or objects that can be
used as weapons… like a baseball bat.
◦ If you don’t feel safe talking to someone, get security.
Organizational Prevention of
Number one prevention is training all employees to deal with
anger and how to prevent violence.
It starts with a written policy and procedures in the orgs. Manual.
Orgs should have a zero-tolerance policy.
Taking immediate disciplinary action is vital or it may spread.
Don’t allow managers to model violence.
The org. should have a set policy for dealing with grievances & it should
Screening potential employees for past or potential violence.
Developing a good work environment decreases
Demotions, firings, layoffs, should be handled in a
Outplacement services should be offered.
• Prevention is the key – police can’t come
until after a violent event has taken place.
▫ Keep in mind there is always a potential for
violence – don’t be naïve.
▫ Never be alone with a potentially violent person –
or if you must, keep an exit
between you and them.
▫ Know when to get away from
▫ Report any troubling behavior.
Conflict Management Styles
◦ Exists whenever two or more people disagree.
◦ It is inherent in any team or organization.
◦ Dealing with conflict is part of your emotional intelligence.
◦ Your ability to manage conflict is critical to your success.
REASONS FOR & AVOIDING CONFLICTS
◦ Conflict arises when our expectations have not been met.
We don’t let others know what we expect.
We don’t bother to find out the expectations of others.
We assume that everyone has the same expectations as ours .
BENEFITS OF CONFLICT – NOT ALWAYS NEGATIVE…
◦ Challenging the status quo can lead to conflict but can ultimately lead to improved
◦ Sometimes it’s okay to upset the apple cart as long as it is done without anger –
violence – or malice.
◦ Confrontation gets a bad rap – but sometimes it’s a good thing.
◦ User attempts to resolve conflicts
by using aggression.
PRO = if forcer is correct the decision may be
better than a compromise.
CON = overuse can lead to hostility and
If the conflict is about personal differences.
Maintaining good relationships is not important.
A resolution is needed immediately - no time to
discuss or figure out what others are feeling.
◦ User tries to passively ignore the
conflict instead of resolving it.
PROS = can help keep relationships.
CONS = nothing gets resolved – people tend to
walk all over avoiders.
If you don’t have a high stake in the conflict.
If confrontation will damage a relationship.
If you just don’t have time to deal with it.
Difference between avoiding and accommodating.
◦ Avoiding takes no action – accommodating you have
to say or do something.
◦ Attempts to resolve conflict by passively giving in to
the other party.
PROS = relationships are maintained.
CONS = simply giving in may be counterproductive
especially if you have a better solution.
Keeping the relationship is the most important.
The changes aren’t important to you but they are to
Time to resolve issue is limited.
◦ Attempts to resolve through assertive
PROS = conflicts are resolved quickly and relationships
CONS = sometimes it can lead to decisions that may not
be best in long run.
APPROPRIATE TO USE
When issues are complicated and crucial and there is
not a clear or simple solution.
All parties have strong interests in differing solutions.
Time is short.
◦ An assertive attempt to resolve conflict with the best solution
agreeable to all parties.
◦ A.k.a. = problem-solving style.
◦ This is really the only style that creates a “win-win” situation.
◦ Difference between compromise and collaboration - in
compromise someone wins and someone loses – concessions are
made by both – collaborating means both sides win
PROS = tends to be the best resolution.
CONS = takes more time and greater effort than any others.
APPROPRIATE TO USE
Keeping relationships is important.
You have plenty of time.
The conflict is between peers.
Initiating Conflict Resolution – Step 1
• When beginning the collaborative style follow these three
steps (this means you are the one to start or initiate the
▫ Maintain ownership of the problem using the XYZ
X = BEHAVIOR
Y = CONSEQUENCES
Z = FEELINGS
▫ Implement your plan PERSISTENTLY.
It lets the other person know there is a problem .
If they won’t acknowledge it – keep trying.
▫ Make an AGREEMENT for change.
When you finally get their attention, then make an agreement
that you can both live with.
Initiating Conflict Resolution – Step 2
Implement your plan persistently.
Often people do not realize there is a problem.
But when approached properly – they are willing
You cannot resolve a problem unless both parties
agree there is one to solve.
Repeat your planned statement several times.
Explain it in different terms if needed.
Don’t give up too easily- watch for nonverbal cues.
If one party is not responsive to solving the problem
appeal to common goals – point out the benefits .
Initiating Conflict Resolution – Step 3
• Try to agree on
specific actions both
▫ Remember it is
collaborating – NOT
▫ If possible get a
Responding to Conflict Resolution
• Many times there can’t be an agreement and a third party is brought
in to help reach some sort of resolution.
▫ Trained mediators are used in many business situations – in personal
conflicts such as marriage and family issues, therapists and psychologists
▫ Mediators only help the resolution process – the parties are not held to
▫ Arbitration is a different process where the final outcome is decided by
the arbitrator and parties are held accountable to the outcome.
• Using the four mediating conflict resolution steps.
Each party states their side using the xyz model.
Agree on the problems.
Develop alternative solutions.
Make an agreement for change and follow up.
▫ Even if you don’t think you are in the wrong…apologies are the high road
to resolving conflicts.
Summary of Key Concepts
◦ The 3 ego states of Transactional Analysis.
◦ The 3 types of transactions.
◦ The difference between passive, aggressive, and
◦ The 4 steps to assertiveness.
◦ When and how to use conflict management.
◦ The steps of initiating, responding to, and
mediating conflict resolutions.