Before one is educated on conflict resolution, destructive conflict communication is often adopted by most. In this respect, the last few years, the relationship between my Mother and I fits the description of a destructive conflict relationship. In the family, parents are naturally invested with authority. As children, we have no knowledge of right or wrong, polite or impolite, or how to perform different tasks. It is the parent’s responsibility to teach the child, preparing children for independence. However, as people grow older, people grow differently. Maturity an outcome of human development; perception transforming in the process. Perception is said to be at the core of all conflicts (Hocker & Wilmot, pp. 12).
A relationship is characterized in conflict when an expressed struggle over a goal (resource, power, or status) occurs. My conflict relationship began when in high school, around the time of aging in to adulthood. At this period in my life, there started to be less dependence on my Mother. Rarely would she transport me places, hear me ask for money, nor listen to me ask for advice. In my eyes, “a person who is not dependent upon another—that is, who has no special interest in what the other does—has no conflict with that person” (Hocker & Wilmot, pp. 13). In this case, Mother not filling the same duties as when younger had no control over my mood or my perception of our relationship. In spite of this, my interpretation of Our past interactions were fueled by me disobeying rules. Rule breaking being the norm of a teenager, it is not unusual to hear this story. Though, as growing older, accompanied by eventually moving away for college, there began to be less house rules to break. This is where my failure to realize
Raised as a single child, my Mother filled both the father and mother role. The obligation of a single parent forcing a dual responsibility; fulfilling both a nurturer and a dictator role. What was hard to grasp in my early childhood experiences, but it is becoming clear to me today, is difficult for parents to let go of their children. On this note, it is challenging for parents to face reality, their child is no longer a baby. Looking back at my Mother-son relationship, my Mother tends to engage in conflict behavior when her role as a parent is denied. Whenever cooking meals, buying clothes, making decisions without her consent, this is the triggering effect to our conflicts.
Sometimes yelling, many times avoiding interactions, occasionally threatening are all forms of my Mother’s communication behavior reflecting conflict 1 These communication behaviors reflecting conflict are known to progress in to escalatory spirals. In our Mother-son relationship, when Mom is upset with me, she will suggest disapproving comments of my habits. She might criticize me about leaving the house and not washing dirty dishes, or mention “if you see the trash needs to be taking out, do it! ” While these are justified remarks, subconsciously, my response is “why can’t you do it yourself”. This action followed by a reaction of aggression and then avoidance.
Escalatory spirals involves communication where there seems to be an endless cycle of arguing, leading nowhere, but causing damage to the relationship (Hocker & Wilmot, Despite the fact that what my Mother saids is true, how she voices these statements affects our relationship. While there are not many things said that will hurt my ego, comments in this regard causes me to question my performance as a son. Even if this is only an attempt at “hitting below the belt”, her criticism creates not only interpersonal conflict between us, but also, produces intrapersonal conflict inside me.
An initiation of intrapersonal conflict bringing me to lose sight of how to resolve our disagreement, leaving confusion on how did I allow myself to reach this point (Hocker & Wilmot, pp. 12). As our conflict begins escalatory spirals, my Mother has reached a point where knowing conflict philosophy would help. Conflict philosophy entails acceptable conflict behavior (i. e. constructive, instead of destructive criticism), the power of words in conflict behavior (i. e. neutral words, instead of judgmental words), and etc. (Hocker & Wilmot, pp. 39). Yet, her philosophy is spending time on conflict only further upsets. Conflict usually said to cause her anxiety, stress, and anger. My Mother does not view conflict as normal, forgetting to remember expressions such as “I’m glad things are back to normal around here” or “let’s get back on track” (Hocker & Wilmot, pp. 40).
In my Mother’s opinion, communication is only meant to worsen conflict, not an opportunity to improve relationships. My Mother may be intimated on continuing the conflict as it escalates, not wanting to ruin our relationship. Conversely, conflict does not symbolize communication breakdown and escalating conflicts are not meant to damage relationships (Hocker & Wilmot, pp. 40). The four horsemen acknowledge the possibilities of damaging a relationship. Criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling, and contempt all factors included in destructive conflict and in my Mother’s conflict behaviors. Where most of our conflict interactions go wrong is because the startup of our interaction begins with criticism. While women are socialized to criticize more than men (Hocker & Wilmot, pp. 20).
Criticism only ignites a startup which is followed by a defensive comeback. Defensive communication used to protect against pain or fear, new information, or personal responsibility (Hocker & Wilmot, pp. 21). My Mother choosing to withdraw from the argument is representing stonewalling. Avoiding making eye contact, walking away every time we are in the same room, and/or remaining silent are all signs she is backing out of the confrontation. It may be my repeated habit of contempt, saying or acting as if school has taught me to be assertive and proud of my decisions that leads us here (Hocker & Wilmot, pp. 26)
While school could be seen as an accomplice, academics only help to manage my conflicts. Thru school we learn, “conflict is inevitable; therefore, the constructive way to approach conflict is “a fact of life” (Hocker & Wilmot, pp. 43). Realizing conflict is here to stay, encourages me to master being able to resolve conflict thru communication. Conflict seen as opportunity to alleviate resentment and discuss issues needed to be addressed. If one does not use conflict as way to let another know what he or she is 2 feeling, how can goals be achieved. Solving a problem of interference in one’s pursuit to achieve goals is having one collaborating with to achieve. During conflict interactions, you discover traits and beliefs about the other party and yourself. Therefore, conflict is an effective way to unite and come to understand.