Interpersonal Conflict: Advanced Practices

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
CMNS 3316
Interpersonal Conflict: Advanced Practices
Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
4 hrs
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities

This course is highly interactive. Working individually or in small groups, students will discuss, analyze, interpret, practice, evaluate and provide feedback to others about advanced interpersonal conflict skills and strategies. A discussion-based teaching model is used with the expectation that students will actively prepare for, participate in and extract meaning from case studies and simulations.  Simulations may be videotaped for the purposes of informed group and self-evaluation.  

Course Description
This advanced course supports students’ development in managing interpersonal conflict with particular emphasis on one-to-one and multi-party disputes. Active problem-solving with an eye toward negotiation and mediation is emphasized. Students explore how conflict emerges in groups, and the roles and responsibilities of leaders to influence, prevent and manage interpersonal conflict.
Course Content
  1. What is Interpersonal Conflict?
    1. productive and destructive conflict
    2. categories and sources of conflict
  2. What Theories Inform Our Understanding of Interpersonal Conflict?
    1. Uncertainty Avoidance
    2. Social Exchange     
    3. Human Relations Perspectives
    4. Systems
    5. Intergroup Conflict
    6. Coordinated Management of Meaning
    7. Confrontation Episodes
  3. What Are Some Advantages of Experiencing and Managing Interpersonal Conflict?
    1. promoting facilitative and diminishing debilitative beliefs
    2. increasing resilience
    3. enhancing intrapersonal and interpersonal effectiveness
    4. inoculation against future conflict
    5. improved workplace relation
  4. What Are Some Common Emotional Responses to Conflict?
    1. defensiveness
    2. anger
  5. What Do We Need to Know and Do to Effectively Manage Interpersonal Conflict?
    1. approaches to conflict
    2. selecting conflict approach
    3. shifting conflict approach
    4. conflict tactics
  • threats and promises
  • caucusing
  • coalition formation
  • metacommunication
  • integrative tactics
  • What Processes Address Complex Intangible Interpersonal Conflict? 
    1. negotiating: competitive and cooperative
    2. mediating: formal and informal
    3. arbitrating: binding and not binding
    4. alternative dispute resolution option
  • What Are Some Key Concepts in Principled Negotiation and Mediation?
    1. aspirations, bargaining, equifinality
    2. points of resistance and/or status quo
    3. pre-meetings, credibility and rapport
    4. opening statements
    5. issues, positions, interests, common ground
    6. agendas, rules and standards for managing disputes
    7. written agreements
  • What Skills Are Essential for Resolving Disputes?
    1. micro communication skills
    2. creating constructive communication climates
    3. questioning and probing
    4. reframing and reframing
    5. empathizing
    6. defusing anger
    7. managing defensiveness
  • How Do Power Dynamics Influence Conflict?
    1. types of power
    2. relational views of power
    3. power tactics
    4. relinquishing and balancing power
    5. balancing power
  • How Does Interpersonal Conflict Manifest in Groups?
    1. recognizing group dysfunction
    • sub-optimal group mix and personality conflicts
    • time-wasting
  • sources of conflict in groups
    • nature of the group
    • complexity of the task
    • differing agendas, standards and levels of commitment
    • variations of ability and participation level
    • distribution of power
  • How Can Conflict be Managed in Groups?
    1. selection of appropriate team members
    2. strategies for managing conflict in groups
    • acknowledging and clearly defining a problem
    • moving from individual positions to group interests and needs
    • shifting paradigms
    • moving from judgement to curiosity
    • acknowledging and honouring differences
    • recognizing and building on similarities
  • What is the Relationship Between Conflict and Leadership?
    1. terminology and important concepts
    • definitions of leadership
    • expectations and responsibilities
  • perspectives on leadership
    • leadership traits and style
    • emergent leadership
    • motivational leadership
  • How Do Leaders Influence Conflict?
    1. knowledge of workplace culture
    2. leadership skills
    3. leadership style compatibility
    4. adaptability
  • How Can Leaders Prevent and Manage Conflict?
    1. managing self and clarifying a personal vision
    2. defining a philosophy of leadership
    3. managing others
    4. articulating a vision for the workplace
    5. building a supportive environment
    6. inspiring workers
    7. preventing and managing crises
  • What Are Some Ethical Considerations in Interpersonal Conflict?
    1. neutrality and impartiality
    2. equidistance
    3. competence
    4. dual-role relationships
    5. authority to negotiate.
    Learning Outcomes


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

    1. recognize the nature and outcomes of different conflict resolution approaches
    2. explain the differences among negotiation, mediation and arbitration
    3. articulate the steps of collaborative problem-solving
    4. describe attributes of functional and dysfunctional groups
    5. identify common sources of conflict in groups
    6. explain how leaders influence, prevent and manage conflict.


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

    1. select the most appropriate conflict resolution strategy for single and multiparty disputes
    2. display core and advanced interpersonal skills for principled negotiations
    3. demonstrate core and advanced interpersonal skills for mediating interpersonal conflicts
    4. engage in self-management behaviours during interpersonal conflict
    5. employ leadership skills that prevent, assess and manage conflicts
    6. apply ethical standards when resolving disputes with others.


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

    1. account for the challenges associated with managing interpersonal conflict
    2. appreciate the effects of power dynamics
    3. identify personal “triggers” that interfere with conflict resolution
    4. take into account the importance of ethical practice when managing interpersonal conflict


    Means of Assessment

    This course will conform to Douglas College policy regarding the number and weighting of evaluations.

    A sample of possible assignments is suggested for instructors to use or adapt at their discretion:

    Assessment, analysis and discussion of current conflict management functioning within one-to-one or multi-party disputes


    Personal conflict management statement and action plan for improved conflict management functioning


    Analysis and discussion of a conflict: Application of course concepts

    Skills application:  
    • Video-taped skills demonstration
    • Analysis and self-evaluation
    Attendance, participation and professional conduct 10%
    Textbook Materials

    Sample of textbooks and materials appropriate for CMNS 3316 to be purchased in current edition by students:

    • Cahn, D., and Abigail, R. Managing Conflict through Communication. Boston:  Pearson Education, Inc.
    • Fisher, R., and Ury, W. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. New York: Penguin Books
    • Folger J.P., Polle, M.S., and Stutman, R.K. Working Through Conflict: Strategies for Relationships, Groups, and Organizations.Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.
    • Hocker, J., and Wilmont, W. Interpersonal Conflict. Dubuque, IA: Brown and Benchmark.
    • McCorkle, S., and Reese, M.J. Mediation Theory and Practice. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.
    • Coursepack (prepared by the instructor) 






    Which Prerequisite