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Intercultural Conflict in Interpersonal Relationships

Course Code: CMNS 2317
Faculty: Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Department: Communications
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Seminar
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This face-to-face interactive course presents knowledge and skills for understanding and managing intercultural conflict in interpersonal relationships. Through focused interaction and reflection, students will consider selected skills, attributes and theories required to effectively analyze and engage intercultural conflict in interpersonal relationships in a variety of settings. Interpersonal conflict knowledge and skills, intercultural factors influencing conflict, and conflict resolution strategies for intercultural situations will be addressed. This course has a strong applied focus.

Course Content

1. Foundational review of definitions and terminology:

- interpersonal communication

- intercultural communication and cultural values

- interpersonal conflict

- conflict styles

- cultural biases


2. Foundational review of models and taxonomies used in intercultural understanding

- Cultural Iceberg 

- Hofstede’s Dimensional Model

- Hall’s High and Low Context Model

- Identity Models (cultural identity awareness)


3. Meaning of intercultural conflict in interpersonal relationships

- intercultural conflict

- causes of intercultural interpersonal conflict

- intercultural conflict styles


4. Theoretical approaches to understanding and managing intercultural conflict in interpersonal relationships

- identity negotiation theory

- matrix of face theory

- anxiety uncertainty management theory

- communication accommodation theory

- coordinated management of meaning theory


5. Decision making across cultures

- factors that influence decision making

- power differential and balancing

- cultural norms and worldview approaches to conflict management


6. Conventions of language specific to intercultural conflict in interpersonal relationships

- language codes

- explicit/implicit communication

- nonverbal/verbal communication


7. Constructive intercultural conflict resolution skill development and culture-sensitive approaches to conflict resolution

- facework

- engaged listening

- mindfulness

- cultural empathy/analytical empathy

- reframing

- code switching


- problem solving

Methods of Instruction

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

Means of Assessment

The following is one example of assessment components and weighting:

Attendance, participation and professional conduct, quizzes 20%

Written and oral assessment, analysis and discussion of improved

intercultural conflict management functioning 30%

Written analysis of a conflict situation 25%

Research discussion and written reflection on intercultural conflict  in

different communication settings 10%

Team-based intercultural conflict project 15%


                                                                                         Total  100%

Learning Outcomes


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

1. explain the basic concepts of intercultural and interpersonal communication and conflict

2. identify causes of intercultural conflict in interpersonal relationships

3. describe factors influencing intercultural conflict

4. describe theoretical approaches to intercultural conflict

5. articulate various strategies employed to resolve intercultural conflict in interpersonal relationships


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

1. demonstrate an increased ability to be reflective and aware of their own cultural background and the influence that background has on intercultural conflict

2. use models, theories and concepts to discuss the causes and factors influencing intercultural conflict in interpersonal relationships

3. employ foundational skills for communicating effectively in intercultural conflict in interpersonal relationships

4. adapt appropriate strategies in the context of intercultural conflict in interpersonal relationships

5. apply skills in a variety of settings to manage intercultural conflict in interpersonal relationships



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

1. assess the improvement of their intercultural conflict management functioning

2. justify the benefits of interpersonal conflict management skills

3. discern and articulate the impact of decision making and power in intercultural conflict situations

4. reflect on and explain the role of their cultural conflict style and its effect on others

5. appreciate and explain the importance culture plays in managing intercultural conflict in interpersonal relationships

course prerequisites

CMNS 1104 or CMNS 1217

Recommended but not required: CMNS 1316



curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.