Jan & Ken: Managing Conflict in Relationships Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 13 May 2016

Jan & Ken: Managing Conflict in Relationships

Q #1: Using the chapters on language and emotions to help frame your answer, suggest two ways that Ken could open this conversation more productively, beyond clearly expressing his emotions and using “I” language.

Ken could have used language that promotes cooperation and mutual respect. ”Jan, we’ve been friends for a long time and I’d like to discuss a situation before it interferes with our relationship.” or “ Jan, there’s a problem in our friendship that we need to address.” By aiming for the win-win approach he can begin the conversation in a better frame of mind (Wood, 2013, P242). Also, by striving to take each person into consideration, Jan would have seen both parties equally and not felt she had to defend herself so abruptly. Therefore, honoring both partners and the relationship would have benefitted the opening statement (Wood, 2013, P.242).

Q #2: How do you perceive Jan’s effort to convince Ken to forgive her? Based on what you have learned in this chapter, suggest two ways she might more effectively seek Ken’s forgiveness. I see Jan being able to convince Ken that her intentions are sincere by first being committed to everyone’s satisfaction and applying the win-win approach (Wood, 2013, P. 230). “ I’m sorry Ken, what can I do to fix this?” Secondly, by using a softer tone and better voice response (Wood, 2013, P.232). Had she combined the two at the time she replied to Ken, she would have been more effective. “ Oh Ken, I did not realize what I was doing would end up hurting you, I never meant to hurt you! Can you ever forgive me?”

Q #3: What are two nonverbal cues used by Jan. What are two nonverbal cues used by Ken? In what ways did the nonverbal cues used by both Ken and Jan impact the message? What are the verbal messages used by each? What, contradictions occurred between the nonverbal cues and the verbal message and how did the contradictions impact the interaction?

Both Ken and Jan used body language and increase/decrease of volume as nonverbal cues (Wood, 2013, P. 121). Jan bobbed her head, pointed her fingers toward him and when she was frustrated and defensive she raised her voice. Ken emphasized each point by the sudden stop of hand gestures and in at least two separate instances, lowered his voice with frustration. These gestures are considered Kinesics (Wood, 2013, P. 126). By using these specific cues both Ken and Jan were setting the tone of the conflict and causing it to reflect badly (Wood, 2013, P. 232). Ken used a psychological exit response (Wood, 2013, P. 231) as a verbal message when he stated, “ Maybe neither one of us can trust the other, maybe we shouldn’t tell each other anything…” And he implied she couldn’t be trusted further. Jan’s most obvious verbal message implied her friendship with Shannon was as important as her relationship with Ken by giving a passive, loyalty response that involved both friends (Woods, 2013, P. 232). These verbal messages Ken and Jan used contradicted the original intention, which was how they both cared about the other within the relationship. It caused both of them to pull away from each other in a defensive frame of mind that not only defeated the purpose but also had a devastating effect on the relationship.

Q #4: Reviewing the nonverbal and verbal cues identified in the last question, what are the roles that these play in the conflict? Do these cues lead to a more positive outcome or negative? How can nonverbal and verbal cues be used to lead to a more productive conflict resolution?

Perception and interpretation (Wood, 2013, P. 76) played the most important role during this conflict because it engaged both parties to successfully use non-effective communication. The cues played the role of kitchen-sinking, unproductive conflict communication, frequent interruptions, cross complaining, disconfirmation of each other (Wood, 2013, P. 204-206), and nonverbal metacommunication (Wood, 2013, P. 27, 233). Ken used them in his unsuccessful attempt to emphasize the seriousness of the situation, whereas Jan utilized them with her defensive listening (Wood, 2013, P. 155). This created a negative outcome.

Cues are a symbolic perception of how we are interpreted whether it be verbal or non verbal. Therefore, our intention must first be focused on creating a good outcome and consider effective communication by engaging in dual perspective and monitor the communication (Wood, 2013, P. 31-33) to become productive and resolve any conflict. Secondly, relax! Don’t be so tense and intense about the situation, it comes across as the chilling effect (Wood, 2013, P. 178) and causes an unwanted reaction. Show that you are emotionally involved within the conflict by effectively expressing your emotions (Wood, 2013, P. 180-181) and respond sensitively when others communicate their emotions (Wood, 2013, P. 186-187). Show grace while engaged in the conflict (Wood, 2013, P. 243).

Q #5: The conversation seems to be framed in a win-lose orientation to conflict. Each person wants to be right, and to win at the expense of the other. How can Jan and Ken move their conflict discussion into a win-win orientation?

They should focus on a healthy conflict that involves all three parties: Ken, Jan and the relationship (Wood, 2013, P. 241). Honoring all three within the conflict confirms and regards the intention (Wood, 2013, P. 242). They should show grace in the nonverbal form (Wood, 2013, P. 243). This will allow both Ken and Jan to relax and become more open toward the conflict and achieve a good outcome.

Q #6: Review the eight conflict-management skills discussed in the text. Identify three examples of these skills in the dialogue between Jan and Ken.
It’s my understanding that Jan tried to take responsibility for her thoughts, feelings and the issue at hand (Wood, 2013, P. 239) by the response, “ I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to tell her, it just kind of slipped out” (Cengage Learning, Jan and Ken). In using this statement she also looked for a way to preserve the others’ face because she had accepted his point of the agreement (Wood, 2013, P. 240). Ken, while focused on the content level of meaning, intended to attend to the relationship level of meaning (Wood, 2013, P. 238) by these statements, “ Jan, we need to talk.” and “ I thought I could trust you and tell you anything.” (Cengage Learning, Jan and Ken). Q #7: Identify three places in the dialogue where Jan and Ken missed opportunities to manage conflict successfully. Give specific suggestions (supported by the text material) on how the conflict management strategies could have been incorporated to improve the interaction.

Ken began with, “ Jan, we need to talk. Why did you tell Shannon about what happened between Katie and me?” (Cengage Learning, Jan and Ken). He could have approached her with, “ Jan, can we talk? I feel as if I have been betrayed by your actions and I don’t want it to ruin our friendship.” This way he would be applying grace and sincerity toward the relationship (Wood, 2013, P. 243).

By reacting to emotionally loaded language (Wood, 2013, P. 151) Jan callously stated, “ Ken, I told her that long before the two of you started dating.” (Cengage Learning, Jan and Ken). She should have replied, “ I confided in Shannon because we have also been friends for a long time and I thought I could trust her as well. ” By admitting to him that she had trusted Shannon and confided in her it would show Ken that her decision reflected badly on her and that it really wasn’t intentionally to go against him.

Jan retaliated with, “ Yeah? Like the time I told you I was thinking about dropping out of school for one semester and you just happened to tell my dad?” (Cengage Learning, Jan and Ken). Had Jan applied active listening (Wood, 2013, P. 160-161), she would have realized that this conversation was about Ken and how he felt betrayed. She could have replied, “ I am truly sorry Ken, can you ever forgive me?”

Cengage Learning. (Producer). (2011). Jan and Ken [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://alturl.com/522qq Wood, J. T. (2013). Interpersonal communication, everyday encounters. (7th ed.). Wadsworth/Cengage.

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