Introduction: Chapter Overview

Chapter Overview

Below is a high-level overview of the topics and themes discussed in this book.

Chapter 1: Introduction to Conflict

In this chapter, we will introduce some key elements to understanding conflict. In addition, we’ll recognize how conflict can be differentiated from disputes, competitions, and interpersonal, explain different levels at which conflict can occur, and discuss the potential benefits and costs of conflict in the workplace. We’ll also explore why understanding conflict is important for your career and workplace success.

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Chapter 2: Conflict Resolution, Negotiations, and Labour Relations

In this chapter, we will learn about the nature of the conflict process and common approaches to conflict. In addition, we will explore the process of negotiation, third-party negotiators, and labour relations between labour unions and management.

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Chapter 3: Organizational Culture and Policies

In this chapter, we will examine organizational culture – it’s characteristics, how it’s created, and strategies used to maintain or change culture. We will discuss several popular frameworks for assessing organizational culture. Finally, we will examine formalized codes, discipline, and termination and their role in maintaining expected standards of behaviour.

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Chapter 4: Power and Politics

In this chapter, we will examine organizational culture as it relates to conflict. Power and politics are the lifeblood of most organizations. Most organizations are composed of coalitions and alliances of different parties that continually compete for available resources. As a result, informed employees need to understand power dynamics and their impact on conflict.

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Chapter 5: Interpersonal Relationships and Group Dynamics

In this chapter, we will explore the functions and types of relationships that exist in organizations between supervisors, subordinates, and coworkers in interpersonal and group settings.

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Chapter 6: Values, Perceptions and Attributions

In this chapter, we will turn our attention away from organizational level factors and begin to explore the influence of our own behaviours and perceptions on conflict. We will start with how our personal values guide our behaviours. Next, we will review of the process of perception –  how we select, organize and interpret information. We will discuss how we assign meaning to the behaviour of ourselves and others by making attributions. Finally, we will review perception checking and other considerations for making perceptions during conflict.

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Chapter 7: Emotions

In this chapter, we will begin to considering the role of affect on behaviour, discussing the importance of emotional intelligence. Then we will consider how emotions and stress influence our mental and physical health. We will discuss how the experience of long-term stress causes illness and impacts behaviours at work. We will explore individual and organizational strategies for managing stress. Finally, we will turn our attention to research on positive thinking and what has been learned about the beneficial health effects of more positive emotions.

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Chapter 8: Motivation

In this chapter, we will examine how our needs and goals can lead to conflict. In particular, we will examine two popular theories of motivation (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and equity theory) as they relate to conflict. We will also explore how organizational strategies like job enrichment and communication strategies can be used to create an environment that fills an employees needs for safety, belonging, and esteem. Next, we will contrast strategies for asserting our needs from passivity to aggression and explore the process of asserting our needs in a way that honours our own boundaries while also respecting the other person. Finally, we will explore two additional frameworks that can help us to understand our goals and needs in conflict situations.

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Chapter 9: Personality and Conflict Styles

In this chapter, we will examine personality and the how the stable traits impact our interactions with others. We will focus on the Big 5 trait theory of personality and how our personality traits can foster positive (or negative) interpersonal interactions during conflict. We will also examine cognitive and personal-social dimensions of the self and how these qualities impact our relationships. Using Harden Fritz’s typologies, we will examine how deviant workplace behaviours can become stable patterns of interactions. Finally, we will explore an alternative to the Thomas-Kilmann model – the ABC styles of conflict management.

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Chapter 10: Communication in Conflict

In this chapter, we will explore the process of communication (written, verbal, and nonverbal) within organizations. We will unpack various barriers to effective communication and how our self-esteem, communication dispositions and relational dispositions impact how we communicate with others. We will differentiate between hearing and listening and the steps involved in the listening process. We will summarize four different listening styles and explore factors that make listening a challenge. In addition, we will identify guidelines for giving and receiving feedback. Finally, we will examine communication behaviours during conflict and strategies for communicating effectively during conflict.

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New to this Version

Changes to this version of the book include:

  • Expanded explanation of the Thomas-Kilmann conflict styles in Chapter 2.
  • An H5P interactive on organizational culture was added to Chapter 3.
  • Callout boxes with “Krista’s Book Club” contain recommendations for four best-seller books that students can seek out if they wish to learn more about a topic.
  • Chapter 4 has expanded to include research on knowledge hierarchies, worker precarity, and power differentials in conflict.
  • Chapter 7 contains an expanded section on stress and burnout.
  • Chapter 9 includes a discussion of strategies for dealing with a coworker who is narcissistic.
  • Small changes to correct spelling and grammar were performed throughout the resource.


This section contains a list of case studies and self-assessment activities cross-referenced to each chapter where they apply.

Go to Appendix A: Case Studies

Go to Appendix B: Self-Assessments

Glossary of Key Terms

This section contains a list of key terms that appear throughout the book.

Go to Glossary

Ancillary Resources

This section contains a full list of H5P interactives, slide decks for each chapter, and links to APA referencing resources. 

Go to Ancillary Resources


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Conflict Management Copyright © 2022 by Laura Westmaas, BA, MSc is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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