Conflict communication is one of the papers you study while pursuing mass communication as it is offered as an elective paper. Now many questions will come in your mind regarding this subject – what is conflict communication, why do we study it, how is it a part of the communication world?

Do not contemplate much as I bring this article to provide you information on the subject. So, read on to know more about the subject and the career prospects it will bring.

What is a Conflict?

Everyone hates conflict. The word ‘conflict’ immediately brings to our mind a negative emotion, and we always want to avoid it. So you would ask; why should one study conflict communication? Well, conflict is inevitable and an imperative part of the society. Conflicts are bound to happen as long as living beings keep on interacting with each other.

What is Conflict Communication?

In addition to family disputes, commercial disputes, workplace disputes, either interpersonal or among groups, conflict communication also studies how communication can play a fundamental role in international relations. The aim is to use communication to resolve hostilities between nations and reinforce peace. The Strategic Communications Division of the United Nations makes use of communication devices to achieve its goals of peacekeeping, peacebuilding, disarmament, counter-terrorism and migration in the world. They organise global communication campaigns to support the organization’s diverse and challenging priorities.

Conflict can cause resentment, hostility and perhaps the ending of the relationship. If it is handled well, however, conflict can be productive – leading to deeper understanding and mutual respect.

To put it simply, conflict communication is all about using communication for the purpose of resolution of conflicts. In order to be able to solve a conflict, we first need to understand what triggers conflict. The difference in ideas and opinions is the major cause behind most conflicts.

Understanding the conflict cycle 

Conflict is a natural and inevitable part of life. According to the conflict cycle, it is primarily our actions and reactions to these challenges that determine whether the situation will have constructive or destructive results. Contempt, criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling are our common reactions to conflict or adverse situations, which often aggravates the condition.

Every individual has a certain set of pre-determined beliefs and notions which we have formed from our experiences in lives. The conflict cycle postulates that when we find ourselves in a conflict situation, we give a response to it. After we give a response to the conflict, now, we have to face the consequences of the response. And this consequence takes us back to the beliefs. This means that after we face the consequence of the conflict, our pre-conceived beliefs are either strengthened and we start believing in those values much more than before. Or the beliefs break and we form a new set of beliefs, which are a result of the new experience resulting out of the conflict. Thus, no matter what we are not able to break the conflict cycle and we keep getting entangled in it. Since, the conflict cycle continues, we cannot break it and that conflict situation in our lives keeps repeating itself. In order to break the conflict cycle, we have to change our response to the conflict situation otherwise it will keep on repeating itself.

For conflict to occur there has to be some sort of interdependence between two parties. If the actions of one person will affect the well-being of the other, interdependence exists. It is very common to observe conflicts in relationships with high degrees of interdependence, such as close friends, family members, and co-workers. 

What will one study in Conflict Communication?

The course will inculcate in you the communication skills which are required for alternative dispute resolution. This will be done with the help of case studies and strategies related to the resolution of conflicts which one may encounter at workplace, family and personal relationships. Also, you will learn to handle difficult people in educational, business, and family, intercultural settings. You will be skilled to apply different communication theories to bring peace around you, in a situation when no mediator is available.

That brings us to another important aspect of this course which is, learning methods of alternative resolution like negotiation, arbitration and mediation. Mediation involves a lot of techniques like caucusing, trust building, etc which a mediator requires to practice for successfully conducting the mediation session. While studying conflict communication you would be introduced to many concepts and communication skills like empathizing, reframing, validation and many more.

All these and much more knowledge you will be able to pick up from the subject on conflict communication. These skills will be helpful to you to conduct a counselling or mediation session and also avoid conflicts in your daily life and so it will be a very valuable learning experience.

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