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Let’s Pretend…

Updated on March 6, 2015

Interpersonal conflict is “an expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from the other party in achieving their goals” (Floyd, 350). Natalie Imbruglia and David Armand experienced interpersonal conflict when they discovered that they were both scheduled to perform “Torn” hours before the benefit concert. They experienced the five key elements of conflict, managed their conflict, and walked away with a social relationship by the end of the benefit concert.

Natalie Imbruglia and David Armand’s interaction prior to the benefit concert qualified as a conflict because their interaction involved the five elements of conflict: expressed struggle, interdependent parties, incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference. Their conflict is further influenced by power. Power is “the ability to manipulate, influence, or control other people or event” (Floyd, 363). Natalie Imbruglia and David Armand’s power relationship would be classified as a complementary relationship because Natalie Imbruglia has more experience as a performer than David Armand which makes her more powerful in this situation. A complementary relationship is “a relationship between parties of unequal power” (Floyd, 364).

The first element of a conflict, expressed struggle, happened when Natalie Imbruglia expressed to David Armand her desire to be the one to perform “Torn” and when David Armand expressed the same desire back to her. This is an expressed struggle because they each expressed their disagreements to the other; expressed struggle can be communicated by both verbal and non-verbal behaviors.

Natalie Imbruglia and David Armand’s interaction also met the requirement of the second element of conflict, interdependent parties; in this case Natalie Imbruglia and David Armand must depend on each other to reach a decision. For instance, if they were to have decided that Natalie Imbruglia would perform the song because she was the more experienced performer, then that decision could only be reached if they both consented to it. Hence they must rely upon each other. In this way they met the requirement of the second element that “a disagreement becomes a conflict only if the parties depend on each other in some way” (Floyd, 351).

The third element, incompatible goals, has been met because Natalie Imbruglia and David Armand both desire to perform the song by themselves and yet they cannot because the song can only be performed once without boring the audience. The requirement of having met the element of incompatible goals has been met because Natalie Imbruglia and David Armand’s two goals are incompatible and it is impossible to satisfy both goals (Floyd, 351).

The fourth element, scarce resources, refers to when people have a conflict over resources they perceive to be limited (Floyd, 351). In this case the limited resources as perceived by Natalie Imbruglia and David Armand are both time and the entertainment of the audience. Perception is “the process of making meaning from the things we experience in the environment” (Floyd, 108). The fifth element, interference, happens when one of the two parties with opposing goals acts in a way that prevents the other party from achieving their goal (Floyd, 351). In this case, Natalie Imbruglia puts herself into a conflict with David Armand when she tries to convince the director of the concert that she should be the one to perform “Torn” as she has more experience as a performer and that the audience would prefer a female performer more than a male one. By doing this she took an action that put her in direct conflict with David Armand and exercises expert power. Expert power is a “power that derives from one’s expertise, talent, training, specialized knowledge, or experience. In this case Natalie Imbruglia has expert power of experience because she is a professional performer and has more knowledge and experience than David Armand. She uses her power to try to convince the director that she would be the better performer and entertainer than David Armand would be. However, the director decided that she and David Armand needed to come to an agreement on what course of action to take without outside involvement.

Natalie Imbruglia and David Armand decided to discuss what they should do about the benefit concert. They both desired to perform “Torn”, but neither of them would agree to be accommodating enough to step aside and let the other one perform alone. Accommodating is “a strategy for managing conflict that involves giving in to the other party’s needs and desires while subordinating one’s own”(Floyd, 375). In the end Natalie Imbruglia and David Armand used the compromising strategy to manage their conflict; they decided that they would perform the song together. Compromising is “a strategy for managing conflict in which both parties give up something they want so that both can receive something they want” (Floyd, 375). By agreeing to this they each gave up on their desire to perform alone so that they could both perform at the benefit concert. They agreed on compromising because avoiding and collaborating were not options. Avoiding is “a strategy for managing conflict that involves ignoring or failing to deal with the conflict” (Floyd, 375). Avoiding was impossible because the benefit concert was in a few hours and they had to have a solution before the concert began. Collaboration is “a strategy for managing conflict that involves working toward a solution that meets both parties’ needs” (Floyd, 375). The only way collaboration would have worked was if both Natalie Imbruglia and David Armand got to perform “Torn” by themselves and that was not an option.

Natalie Imbruglia and David Armand performed the song together at the benefit concert and found that their audience enjoyed their dual performance more than previous audiences had enjoyed their individual performance. In this situation it is likely that Natalie Imbruglia and David Armand are likely to form a voluntary social relationship because of an interpersonal attraction; interpersonal attraction is “any force that draws people together to form a relationship” (Floyd, 283). Natalie Imbruglia and David Armand would be most likely to experience task attraction; task attraction is “attraction to someone’s abilities and dependability” (Floyd, 283). They would develop task attraction to each other because of their similarities; they both have a similar background as performers and that would automatically make them similar to each other. Attraction could also develop if they chose to do repeat performances in the future and then they develop attraction because of a close work proximity to each other.

Natalie Imbruglia and David Armand performed “Torn” at the benefit concert together after having successfully managed a healthy interpersonal conflict. They used the compromising strategy to successfully manage their conflict. They also found that their successful performance could easily lead to a voluntary friendship based on their mutual task attraction, similarity, and proximity. Their social relationship may even grow to include a mutual social attraction.

Works Cited
Floyd, Kory. Interpersonal Communication. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011. Print.
"Torn by David Armand & Natalie Imbruglia - HQ." YouTube. YouTube, 24 Nov. 2007. Web. 27 Apr. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asJJ2xoWgus>.

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