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Conflict Communication in Family Relationships Essay

Conflict is a part of normal human communication. Though many attempts and strategies are developed to avoid or resolve conflicts, it is hard for people to understand the nature of their conflicts and find an effective resolution in a required period. In this paper, a reflection on conflict communication in personal relationships will be developed to clarify which concepts have to be used by people who perform different goals to learn from ordinary conflict situations and avoid similar problems in their future.

Types of Relationships

A variety of relations that people are free to develop is impressive indeed. People may be involved in numerous business relations and follow definite rules and standards. There are also many unexpected outcomes of love relationships. Family relationships also play an important role in human lives. Despite the type of relations, there is always a threat of having a conflict situation. Not many people are ready to take the right steps and choose appropriate methods of conflict resolution.

The development of trustful and strong personal relationships is a goal millions of people strive for. Personal relationships make human lives fulfilled. Family relations turn out to be a frequent subject of psychological research. Conflicts or friction in families is a normal part of everyday life because parents may use irritable behavior or wrong communication style with their children, spouses may fail to deliver their messages in a proper way, and children cannot control their unwanted actions (Sears, Repetti, Reynolds, Robles, & Krull, 2016). People want to resolve all conflict situations as soon as possible or, vice versa, develop them to a certain extent. In such relations, a family of origin is a crucial concept for consideration because it defines the way of handling conflict.

Nature of Conflict

In family relations, different conflicts may be developed. As a rule, a possibility of people to understand their goals, roles, and obligations determine a level of family relations’ development. One of the most dangerous and unpredictable types is unresolved conflict. It is characterized by a certain negative impact on all parties and the possibility to develop drifting in family relations (Wilmot & Hocker, 2014). Unresolved conflict is a situation resulted from a quarrel, a talk, or an action that offenses or disturbs one party and remains to be unsolved at the moment. This concept has to be discussed in terms of family relationships and used for improving conflict communication.

When people are involved in one or even more unresolved conflicts, it is hard for them to communicate, share their intentions and interests, and achieve required positive results. For example, there is a situation when a child demonstrates his intentions to be involved in a particular activity but does not get permission from his parents. Without an ability to prove his interests and goals, he fails to prove his position. Parents underline the importance of respect and their power in these relationships. As a result, a child suffers from uncertainty, frustration, and poorly developed communication skills. The conflict remains to be unresolved. Certain problems are not solved. The development of personal contradictions and uncertainty is promoted. The child loses his desire to do something and to demonstrate his passion for something because of the existing power of his parents. In such type of personal relationships, parties face a number of challenges, including the necessity to understand conflict goals regarding its type, explain the essence of power in communication, and investigate the worth of interdependence in conflict.

Conflict Goals

Conflict communication is an important part of human relations because it is impossible to ignore the fact that people may have incompatible goals the accomplishment of which by one party interferes with the interests and actions of another party (Wilmot & Hocker, 2014). People in conflict have to be ready to analyze their situations and problems to achieve the goals and come to a certain conclusion. As a rule, any conflict is characterized by TRIP goals which including the clarification of a topic, relationships, an identity, and a process. Such concept as TRIP goals helps people understand their conflict and investigate it from different perspectives.

For example, there is a situation in a family with a wife who wants all her family visiting her parents, a father who wants to go fishing, and two children who want to stay at home on weekends. A topic is the same for all family members – what to do on weekends. All family members perform their roles and have certain responsibilities. The relations in the family are characterized by equality, and identity conflict can hardly take place. It is necessary to pay attention to process goals of a conflict and provide each family member with an opportunity to speak and prove the chosen position. This conflict may be solved as soon as one of the parties succeeds in presenting enough facts to support the chosen position and disprove the importance of other positions.

The identification and analysis of TRIP goals are effective for working in teams where a number of opinions occur at the same time, and one specific solution should be made to avoid complications.

Interdependence in Family Relationships

In the same situation, such concept as interdependence cannot be ignored. Wilmot and Hocker (2014) begin their discussion stating that a person should be fair and generous even in conflicts. Such attitudes can be explained by the existing interdependence. It is usually present in all conflicts because it is an integral part of human relations. Conflict parties are interdependent because if they are not, they do not have common interests to argue about.

It is necessary to respect and understand interdependence. As soon as it is used in conflict resolution, people demonstrate their high level of knowledge, professionalism, and readiness to cooperate. This concept improves conflict communication in a family because it reminds all members that they are connected, and this connection has its own prices. Interdependence may have positive and negative outcomes in a conflict. On the other hand, all parties have to stay together to find out a solution and make sure that all interests and goals are considered. On the other hand, such interdependence is a weakness that may deprive some family members of an opportunity to protect the chosen position. For example, children understand that they are dependent on their parents regarding their financial situations and have to follow what their parents want. A mother can underline the role of grandparents in a family and use interdependence as a type of responsibility. A father may explain entertainment on weekends as an argument to support his option.

Regarding such doubtful nature of interdependence in family conflicts and many factors that determine the quality of child-parent relations (Sears et al., 2016), it is necessary to admit that healthy approaches to solve conflicts while working in a team are rare, and much work has to be done to understand the nature of this conflict.

Power Perception

The last crucial concept in conflict communication in a family where each member pursues their own purposes is power. Wilmot and Hocker (2014) define power as a fundamental aspect of conflict theory because its perception influences the development of all types of relations between people. If one of the parties has power, it is usually impossible to agree on something. Power is a serious weapon in conflict resolution. If a person decides to use power, there is a threat that a conflict may stay unsolved even it is passed. For example, the father can use the fact that he is a head of a family, his work and obligations have to be appreciated, and he deserves the right for fishing. At the same time, he can say that it is his decision, and no one can disprove it. Any family member can hardly change such position. Father’s power plays a crucial role, and the outcomes of its usage cannot be predicted.


In general, the development of personal and professional relationships is not an easy task for many people. A number of rules have to be considered, certain goals should be met, and various outcomes may be achieved. It is not enough to have some theoretical knowledge and be confident in personal abilities to develop strong, free-from-conflict relationships. It is necessary to learn the goals of conflict and the role of such concepts as power, interdependence, and the type of relations in order to succeed in conflict management and prove that conflict communication is an important concept for future research.


Sears, M.S., Repetti, R.L., Reynolds, B.M., Robles, T.F., & Krull, J.L. (2016). Spillover in the home: The effects of family conflict on parents’ behavior. Journal of Marriage and Family, 78(1), 127-141.

Wilmot, W., & Hocker, J. (2014). Interpersonal conflict. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

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1. IvyPanda. "Conflict Communication in Family Relationships." September 24, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/conflict-communication-in-family-relationships/.


IvyPanda. "Conflict Communication in Family Relationships." September 24, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/conflict-communication-in-family-relationships/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Conflict Communication in Family Relationships." September 24, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/conflict-communication-in-family-relationships/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Conflict Communication in Family Relationships'. 24 September.

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