Communication is very essential to our lives. It is given, a fact, thus is not debatable. Communication gives us countless reasons to live and experience life. Communication, according to communicologists, is defined as a dynamic, systemic or contextual, irreversible and proactive process in which communicators construct personal meanings through their symbolic interactions. As they summarized it, communication functions in many ways. It helps us to define and understand ourselves and our environment. It breaks barriers between two or more persons, thus, leading to relationships. It also creates bonding in groups and affirms the human need to belong. It facilitates cooperative action toward goal attainment. Communication informs and enlightens people for knowledge’s sake and informed judgment. It leads to enduring friendships and intimacy between individuals and among groups. It also enhances our understanding of and respect for different cultures. More importantly, communication opens avenues for growth of the individual and society.
Communication can be expressed verbally or nonverbally. The verbal portion is language – the words, phrases, and sentences you use. The nonverbal aspect consists of a wide variety of elements – spatial relationships, time orientation, gestures, facial expressions, eye movements, touch, and variations in the rate and volume of one’s speech.
Because communication can be conveyed either verbally or nonverbally or both, and because communicators communicate uniquely, meaning, “no two people will attribute the same meaning to one distinct or particular situation,” several interpretations are expected to be drawn from these situations. Moreover, each individual interprets or assigns value and meaning differently on the basis of his past experiences, beliefs, attitudes and values, and cultural makeup. It is well nigh impossible to elicit the same comments because of every person’s uniqueness.
Because of this attribute, it is unavoidable that problems or conflicts will arise due to miscommunication, misunderstanding or simply because of conflicting interests.
Conflict happens. It happens in no specific instance, in no particular manner. It happens to anyone, whether one likes it or not. It happens elsewhere, in our society, in our careers, in our daily activities. It happens right in the middle of our most personal relationships. Conflict is ever present that it can happen to you even when you least expect it.
Conflict is inevitable in any meaningful relationship. It is a part of every interpersonal relationship, between parents and children, brothers and sisters, friends, colleagues and lovers. Disagreements between and among these relationships are unavoidable especially when people matter to each other and affect each other. The relationship would then be dull, irrelevant and insignificant without some spices we call conflicts to garnish our relationships.
As one author defines it, an interpersonal conflict is that it exists when people who depend on each other express different views, interests, or goals and perceive their views as incompatible or oppositional. Interpersonal conflict can occur only between people who depend on each other in particular realms. It occurs because people depend on each other and need each other’s agreement or disapproval. It exists only when it is expressed by people who affect one another.
Many people view conflict as inherently negative, but that is a misunderstanding of what conflict is and how it operates. To address to that, it is necessary to discuss the four principles of conflict as identified by Julia Wood, which yours truly will expound on this on the next issue.
(to be continued…)