For this project I chose a conflict, which I knew very well about, since one of my friends was involved in it. Since it was a friend of mine involved in the conflict, my view of the conflict is far from being objective, however in the analysis I will be doing my best in order to leave the emotions beyond this writing piece and thoroughly analyze the mechanisms which brought about and activated the conflict.
The conflict took place between two friends. One of the friends was doing a favor for the other one, participating in one of his projects during his free time. Let us agree to refer to the participant as friend X and to the one, to whom the favor was being done will be referred to as friend Z. Thus, a period in X’s life came about, when he was unable to dedicate his time to the project run by Z. He explicitly informed his friend about it. Thus, Z got very upset, because the period of time was very important for the project. He needed X in his project very badly. X insisted that he was not obliged to participate and was doing whatever he could and whenever he could only to help his friend out. Now, X insisted, it was the time for him to mind his own difficulties. Z insisted that X was bringing him down and wanted to discuss possible alternatives. X insisted that the alternative may be compromising the time of his participation by moving it to a few months later. Z said he could not wait, and this is when X lost his temper and began an act of explicit verbal aggression.

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From the theoretical stand point of verbal aggressiveness it is clear, that X switches to verbal aggression due to one of the four known reasons for such behavior – argumentative skill deficiency. He ran out of verbal methods of persuasion and thus switched to verbal aggression, obviously displaying his helpless position in the conflict. As an alternative reason one may see psychopathy – the issue remained unresolved despite all the effort made, thus X displayed his helplessness through verbal aggression. This cognitive theory explains only a part of the conflict’s mechanism. However, there are other aspects of the conflict which remain unaddressed when applying cognitive theories. Such ought to be seen through the lenses of interactional theories.

Confrontation episodes theory appears to be the most clearly explaining the events which took place between X and Z. Z is the first to confront X by blaming him of letting him down. Then it resembles a game of chess or any other sporting game, where two players take part. X admits, that this may be doing Z the harm, but it has never been his (X’s) obligation to help Z. Thus even though he may indirectly cause Z some harm, he cannot and should not be accused of it, Then Z confronts X again by blaming him for not being willing to look for compromise. X then returns the confrontation by blaming Z for seeing a compromise as something that would only meet his interests and would entirely disregard X’s interests. Z then returns the accusation by blaming X for being indifferent, and X bursts into verbal aggression, in general blaming Z of manipulating his emotions and being unfair, accompanying it all with a burst of dirty language and names, assigned to Z as a matter of emotional discharge.

The two types of conflict theories, as described by Folger et al (2012) are cognitive and interactional theories. And applying theories of both types to the conflict to ensure a clearer understanding of the driving mechanisms and possible management styles is critically important, as it has been shown in this short sketch sample.

  • Folger, Jozeph, P., Poole, Marshall Scott, & Randall K. Stutman. (2012). Working Through Conflict: Strategies for Relationships, Groups, and Organizations. Edition 7. Pearson.