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Interpersonal Conflict

Updated on May 9, 2017

Interpersonal Conflict Analysis

The family is the most basic unit of the society and it is an essential instrument in molding the child's character and personality. In recent times, there has been an emergence of new types of families but the family climates still remain the same; varying between families. The purpose of this paper is to examine the family environments I grew up in, the pluralistic and protective family environments, and explain how these environments have molded and influenced my conflict resolution skills. The paper will first focus on the differing nature of these family environments in regards to their conversation and conformity orientation; and the reason for the changes that saw the family change from one climate to the other over the years. This shall be succeeded by a discussion of the impact of these climates on my conflict approaches; and finally, I shall conclude by describing how knowledge of these theoretical concepts has expanded my understanding of the relationships I have today.

The Family Climate

In my youth, my upbringing reflected the characteristics of a protective family environment. This is the type of environment whereby the parents dominate everything that happens within the family. The parents make decisions without consulting the children and the children have to accept their directions without question. A protective family is characterized by low conversation orientation as well as a low conformity orientation. The parents impose their desires on the children, as well as training them to behave in a particular way and to adopt certain habits. The parents also place a lot of pressure on the children to behave in accordance to their high expectations. Thus, in this type of environment little consideration is given to the children’s opinions or desires, thus feelings such as resentment and hostility may develop between a child and their parents.

Most of my parents’ friends also created this environment within their own families but they all soon adopted the pluralist climate, as a result of an attempted suicide in one of the families. The child was depressed because they felt inadequate after they failed to secure first place in a swimming competition of which the parents had placed such high pressure on the child to win. As sign of solidarity, the parents in each family would accompany the grieving parents for counseling and therapy after the incident. The therapist introduced them to a better parenting style that has proven to be more satisfying for both the parents and children. The therapist’s sentiments were echoed in several studies that have established that the protective family environment leads to poor mental health in children, as parents in this type of environment are prone to create a high-pressure environment, which causes stress and frustration in the children because they are prohibited from seeking their own pleasures (Heidari, Mortezaee, Masomi, & Raji, 2016). Families that employed the pluralistic communication technique had children with the most stable mental health while children from protective family environments had the lowest mental health. In terms of ranking of the climates, pluralistic was the most suitable, followed by consensual, then laissez-faire and finally the protective environment (Heidari, Mortezaee, Masomi, & Raji, 2016).

The pluralist family climate is one that is characterized by high conversation orientation, as well as high conformity orientation. The family has an open communication culture where they share everything and anything, regardless of how minute the subject matter may be. The parents encourage the children to develop their own unique personalities and to be expressive about their ideas and feelings. Every family member’s views are important and are regarded as independent and autonomous (Heidari, Mortezaee, Masomi, & Raji, 2016). In the spirit of the new climate, the family began holding monthly meetings where people would share their achievements or downfalls during the month and everyone was encouraged to be candid and free to speak about how they felt. A new culture of swift yet honest of resolving conflicts was adopted. Whenever a conflict arose, the conflicting parties had to sit down and talk about it in an open way.

Impact on conflict resolution skills

The communication orientation in a family is a key influence of the tactics used in parent-child conflicts (Sillars. et al., 2014); subsequently, the child’s conflict resolution approaches are also determined by orientation. The protective system influences hostility within the family as the members begin using direct and competitive approaches towards resolving conflicts within and outside the family. This primarily occurs as a consequence of overbearing parental imposition of expectations on the children. Moreover, this lack of consideration for the children views teaches the children that during conflicts, one should seek their own interests before their rival’s. On the other hand, the pluralistic environment advances notions of cooperation. A cooperative approach involves showing desire and willingness to resolve the conflict by listening and empathizing with the rival’s conflicting interests and seeking a solution that will result in a win-win scenario (McCorkle & Reese, 2016). Such an approach not only strengthens the relationship between the conflicting parties but also ensures each disputing party is happy with the solution.

The pluralistic environment has had the bigger influence in the way I resolve conflicts. From the openness and highly conversational nature of the climate, my conflict resolution tactics involve two methods: negotiation and non-confrontational methods. Whenever a conflict arises, I usually apply non-confrontation method as the first step in resolving the conflict. It is an indirect and cooperative approach which helps me ease the tension between myself and the rival so that we can begin talking about the issue. I then employ the negotiations method, which is a direct and cooperative approach, so that the rival and I can amicably set down the conflicting interests and draw up a suitable solution to the problem.

These approaches have helped me strengthen and retain my friendships. For instance, recently my housemate and I got into a conflict regarding personal space and boundaries within the house. His sister was having some financial problems so she came to live with us for a while. However, he failed to inform her of the house rules. There was a rule that one had to clean up after themselves at all times; however, she would leave dirty dishes in the sink for someone else to clean and she would make a mess in the living room and not bother to clean it. She also developed a bad habit of entering my room and taking my clothes to wear without my consent. At first, I would make joking remarks at my housemate that hinted that he should talk to his sister. When that approach failed, I arranged a meeting with him at our favorite pub and explicitly stated the problem. Initially he was defensive but we soon reached a solution that he would talk to his sister and I would try to better manage by cleanliness OCD since I would get worked up over a single bubble gum wrapper on the floor.


Learning about these the family communication concepts has helped me understand the importance of a good family climate for children as a tool for molding their characters as well as the extent of influence the parents’ behavior has on the child’s behaviors later on in life. The protective family climate is the most detrimental to a child’s mental health, their personality development and imparts in them poor conflict approaches. Its negative impact can be evidenced by the attempted suicide incidence that prompted my family as well as their friends to change their family environment from protective to pluralistic. The pluralistic family environment has been proven to be the best in helping children develop good conflict resolution skills as well as developing their character as independent and confident people. A good family environment is vital to the development of a child’s personality and thus it should be cultivated in every family.


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