Conflict and Communication Styles Within Families
Conflict and Communication Styles Within Families There are many areas to be explored underneath the Communications Studies umbrella making it quite difficult to narrow down a specific subject to write about. After performing some research I chose to discuss conflict and communication styles within families. Conflict seems to be an inevitable event in all-interpersonal relationships and the way one manages such conflict can determine how the rest of the relationship may be influenced.
According to Wilmot and Hocker (2005). Conflict is usually a struggle between at least two parties who have indifferences in goals.
Families tend to deal with this issue differently based upon communication patterns, perceptions and environment. As aforementioned the way conflict and communication is dealt with can differ within families based upon their communication styles or patterns. I thought it would be interesting to further study why this happens. Many families face difficult struggles, which can often be quite volatile and troubling. How family members deal with these struggles not only affects personal development but it can also affect younger children, what they learn from family conflict and how they can be impacted by exposure to such conflict.
The first article I chose is Family Communication Patterns and Conflict Styles in Chinese Parent-Child Relationships written by Qin Zhang. The purpose of the study that was conducted was to investigate Chinese family communication patterns and the effects on children’s conflict styles and perceptions of parent-child relationships satisfaction (Zhang, 2007). The study found that Chinese family communication patterns are more conversation-oriented than conformity-oriented, and the collaborating and accommodating styles are the children’s most preferred and the competing style the least preferred.
A conformity-oriented family values the harmony and interdependence of family members, conflict avoidance and children’s obedience to parents (Fitzpatrick, 2004; Koerner & Cvancara, 2002; Ritchie 1991). A conversation-oriented family values the individuality and independence of family members and spontaneous and unconstrained interactions (Koerner & Cvancara, 2002; Koerner & Fitzpatrick, 1997; Ritchie, 1991). The second article I chose was Family Communication Patterns and the Conflict styles Young Adults Use with Their Fathers by Rebecca Dumlao and Renee A.
Botta. This study examines the link between family communication patterns between fathers and young adults to conflict styles and management. The levels of conformity and conversation encouraged by the young adults’ fathers also encouraged styles of managing conflict (Dumlao & Botta, 2000). Collaborating and accommodating were found to be the most consistent styles of conflict predicted by father type. Collaborating requires significant commitments of time and communicative effort to find a solution that mutually beneficial.
A father who promotes substantial communication is more likely to raise children who us this skilled style (Dumlao & Botta, 2000). Accommodating is when on person gives in to another’s wants which often correlates with a family that encourages conformity. Young adults with fathers who encouraged conformity were often more accommodating during conflict. Comparison and Criticism: Both articles vary drastically but still offer good insight in regards to families and how factors such as cultural background or parent-child relationships can have a great effect on how conflict is resolved.
In the first article, I found it interesting how culture can be a major influence on how conflict is handled and perceived. According to Hall (1976) “Chinese culture is high context, collectivistic and has large power distance”. Before reading the article I assumed, since the Chinese tend to be a more reserved and high context people that they would be more likely to avoid conflict. Traditional Chinese culture places great emphasis on harmony, face, relationship, and filial piety, which gives rise to the preference of conformity orientation (Ho, 1986; Hsu, 2002; Wu, 1996).
That being said, it was very interesting to see that my assumptions were wrong. I was somewhat surprised to see that study findings show how Chinese parents have moved from conformity orientation to conversation orientation. Zhang (2007) states “The shift of family communication patterns might actually reflect the gradual transformation of Chinese culture from a highly hierarchical society to one that endorses equality and freedom”. Although the second article does not have to do with cultures it still touches on families and the way conflict is handled and resolved.
What intrigued me about this article is that it takes about conflict with young adults and specifically their fathers. I’ve always been close with my father so I was interested to find out how different parenting skills can affect young adults in how they deal with conflict now and in the future. There were various hypotheses during this study but one that stood out to me was that “young adults with protective fathers will use higher levels of both accommodating and avoiding styles with their fathers than those whose fathers are not protective” (Dumlao and Butta, 2000).
I found this interesting mainly because I felt like I could relate to that assumption and it was fascinating to see the hypothesis to be proven true. In the findings it states that there are limited options for an individual who may come from this type of family those being to give in or don’t get involved at all. This spoke volumes to me because this is how tended to act/react in my relationship with my father, who was in fact, very protective. Once again, the articles are different but at the same time very similar. Both deal with conflict, families, and relationships between a parent and child.
I don’t think us, as a society, realize how cultural backgrounds, parent-child relationships, and environment can affect us at such an early age in how we deal with and resolve conflict with one another. I’m not too sure how I could apply this to my daily life or future endeavors since my conflict style has slowly been embedded in me since I was a child. I have taken the time to analyze myself though and reflect on how my culture and upbringing have effected the decisions I make and reactions towards conflict. Recently, in another class