Curriculum Guideline

Understanding and Managing Interpersonal Conflict

Effective Date:
Course Code
CMNS 2316
Understanding and Managing Interpersonal Conflict
Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
4 hrs This course is not recommended for hybrid or online delivery.
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

This course is highly interactive. Working individually or in small groups, students will engage in the discourse, analysis and interpretation of basic interpersonal communication and conflict management skills.   A discussion-based teaching model is used with the expectation that students will actively prepare for, participate in and extract meaning from case studies, simulations and role plays. Student activities may be videotaped for the purposes of informed self-evaluation.

Course Description
This face-to-face course presents foundational knowledge and skills needed to understand and manage interpersonal conflict. Through focused interaction, students will consider selected theory, fundamental skills and basic attributes required to effectively analyze and engage with interpersonal conflict in a variety of settings.
Course Content
  1. What is Interpersonal Conflict?
    1. definitions and terminology
    2. sources of interpersonal conflict
    3. basic assumptions about the nature of interpersonal conflict
    4. factors influencing the development of interpersonal conflict
      • personal style
      • communication climate
      • gender
      • cultural differences
      • technology
  2. What are Some Benefits of Enhancing Interpersonal Conflict Management Skills?
    1. physical benefits
    2. emotional benefits
    3. relational benefits
    4. intellectual benefits
  3. What is Some Fundamental Background Knowledge in Conflict Studies?
    1. theoretical perspectives
      • intrapersonal and relational theories of conflict
      • models for dealing effectively with conflict
    2. roles of perception, attitudes and emotion
    3. approaches to interpersonal conflict management
      • avoidance
      • aggression
      • passive-aggressive behaviour
      • assertiveness
      • compromise
    4. introduction to interest-based problem solving
    5. introduction to power dynamics in conflict settings
  4. How do I, as an Individual, Approach Conflict?
    1. importance of self-awareness
    2. importance of critical self-evaluation
    3. role of similarities and differences in parties' conflict styles
  5. What are Some Foundational Skills for Communicating in Interpersonal Conflict?
    1. intrapersonal and self-regulating skills
    2. the core conditions
    3. attending, observing and listening
    4. paraphrasing, summarizing and empathic responding
    5. asking facilitative questions
    6. language skills
      • using the language of responsibility
      • using collaborative language
    7. perceptual-attitudinal skills
      • DIE model


Learning Outcomes


By the end of the course, the successful student will be able to:

  1. explain the nature of interpersonal conflict
  2. identify common sources of interpersonal conflict
  3. describe some common approaches to interpersonal conflict
  4. articulate goals of various responses, approaches and strategies employed to manage interpersonal conflict.


By the end of the course, the successful student will be able to:

  1. use basic theory, models and concepts to discuss the nature and effects of interpersonal conflict
  2. demonstrate foundational skills for communicating effectively in interpersonal conflict
  3. select an interpersonal conflict strategy that is appropriate to the context
  4. apply interpersonal conflict management skills in a variety of settings
  5. articulate a personal mission statement related to interpersonal conflict management.


By the end of the course, the successful student will be able to:

  1. assess the positive effects of interpersonal conflict
  2. articulate the benefits of interpersonal conflict management skills
  3. discern the impact of defensiveness in interpersonal conflict situations
  4. reflect on the role of their interpersonal conflict style and its effects
  5. appreciate the importance of incorporating the perspectives of others as a fundamental ingredient in interpersonal conflict management.
Means of Assessment

Student work will be assessed using a variety of methods such as those listed below.

Interpersonal conflict study

Group-based conflict management skills demonstration project 30%
Case study report: Application of course concepts 20%
Attendance, participation and professional conduct 15%
Textbook Materials

A course textbook, in current edition, such as one of the following, will be selected.  Wherever possible a Canadian edition will be chosen.

  • Cahn, D. and Abigail, R. Managing conflict through communication. New Jersey: Pearson.
  • Wilmot, W.W. and Hocker, J.L. Interpersonal conflict. NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

CMNS 1104, or CMNS 1210, or CMNS 1215, or CMNS 1216, or CMNS 1217 or permission of instructor.





Which Prerequisite