In all contexts that involve interactions between different people, communication skills are necessary to ensure passage of intended message. One of such skills is interpersonal communication. The skill encompasses a process in which different players in the communication process exchange their feelings, meanings, and information via non-verbal and verbal messages. The process involves direct face–to-face interactions.
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Failure to ensure effective interpersonal communication leads to relational conflicts. Different people may have different abilities to communicate effectively in interpersonal settings. This situation introduces an important scholarly question on whether interpersonal conflicts are significant between two males, as opposed to two females. Investigating this question will lead to the prescription of the appropriate strategy for managing interpersonal conflicts, depending on their variability in different settings. This paper chooses Google Company’s work environment as the context to study this question.
Interpersonal conflicts may arise due to challenges that are associated with ensuring effective interpersonal communication. Management of such conflicts requires an understanding of the process through which parties in conflict can be trained not only about how to evaluate communication contexts but also to adopt appropriate communication strategies to reduce instances of misinterpretation of meanings. Communication involves the transfer of deliberate and un-intended meanings. This understanding leads to the research question of the current research. Are interpersonal conflicts significantly different when they occur between two males, as opposed to two females among workers at Google Company?
Statement of Hypothesis
Past research on communication differences among people from different genders indicates that men and women communicate in dissimilar ways. Males communicate in teams in a manner that reinforces their dominance and position. Females communicate in similar contexts to ensure trust and/or gain relationships. From this differentiation, this paper hypothesizes that Google female workers are able to manage conflicts well in interpersonal communication contexts through their struggle to establish good relationships and/or win trust compared to men.
Communication is important in all contexts that bring people together. Through interactions, people exchange information on the necessary work processes and hindrances to performance. Communication skills are one of the attributes that people must possess. Engaging in ardent communication ensures that one does not take for granted any idea from other employees, business partners, strangers, or even friends. Leaders have the responsibility of engaging employees in direct conversations. Similarly, employees interact directly through face-to-face communication contexts. In such situations, conflicts are inevitable.
Lee (2008) reckons that poor communication directly correlates with escalated work conflicts since many of the conflicts within an organization are caused by lack of and/or insufficient information, scanty communication, or even when cases of misinformation are encountered. Hence, precision, accurateness, and the timing of communication are crucial in helping to mitigate organizational conflicts. Workplace conflicts constitute a major problem that organizations that seek higher performance need to mitigate to ensure highly motivated work teams.
Poor communication contributes to conflicts due to personality clashes. This situation occurs when people fail to get along. Conflicts also occur when people view decisions and ideas articulated to a given job or task differently without deploying the appropriate interpersonal communication to convince or ardently support one’s way of doing something or behaving in the manner he or she does. As a cause of workplace conflict, personality clashes initiate with disputes regarding certain business practices, which then skyrocket into mutual loathing (Lee, 2008).
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In some cases, two people may not like each other, right from the beginning, due to diversity differences and other personality disparities. This argument implies that workplace diversity may be a big contributor to conflicts within an organization. Personality clashes also contribute to workplace disputes, which may escalate to become conflicts since people possess different beliefs, values, and approaches to handling problems. When people fail or have difficulties in appreciating and embracing other people’s work methods, clashes emerge.
Developing mechanisms for managing conflicts that arise from interpersonal communication requires the understanding of ways through which people communicate, irrespective of their demographic differences. Wood (2011) asserts that women and men are developed under different conditions, which may influence the way they relate at interpersonal levels. For instance, “a speech community exists when people share understanding about the goals of communication, strategies for enacting those goals, and ways of interpreting communication” (Wood, 2011, p. 125). Hence, issues such as masculinity and femininity may influence the manner in which men and women communicate at interpersonal levels.
In Chapter 3 that is titled ‘Bros before Hoes: The Person Code’, of the book, The Guyland, Michael Kimmel discusses men’s code in the American context. The book offers an in-depth analysis of modern expectation for men in terms of the manner in which they should conduct themselves. The American culture expects men between16 and 26 years old not to express faults and coward behaviors (Kimmel, 2008). The author notes that the American culture associates masculinity with power, wealth capability, and potential.
Men are viewed as people who should be relied upon to alleviate others from crisis. According to Kimmel, the American culture also expects men to depict aggressive traits. The ideas of masculinity are passed on from older men to younger ones in a manner that the cultural phenomenon is transmitted across generations. In the attempt to display masculinity anticipations in communication contexts, men are assertive, something that may hinder their capability to resolve conflicts due to their failure to admit any wrongdoing, especially when conflicts involve female parties.
Wood (2011) offers an in-depth discussion of the development of verbal communication between females and males. Language constitutes a mechanism through which people assert their gender differences. As Wood (2011) asserts, “language is a primary means by which we express our gendered identities” (p. 124). According to him, the manner in which people communicate at interpersonal levels is a function of the development of speech communities at an early age.
For example, boys play highly competitive games, which have well defined goals, are rough, and specified in terms of what should be played. On the other hand, girls’ games do not have clear rules. Relating this observation to communication contexts within an organization implies that men would be expected to participate in the work processes logically when guided by rules and regulations. The observation has an implication on conflict management since men would set preconditions to be satisfied before they can engage in any communication process aimed at settling problems.
In their early stages of development, men participate in games in large groups. The games are characterized by few incidences involving one-on-one communication. This finding is contrary to girls’ games, which comprise small groups that involve direct one-on-one communication. Hence, even in organizational settings, women are more likely to engage in interpersonal communication, which can guarantee clear understanding of their peers’ personality aspects that are likely to create conflicts.
Wood (2011) asserts that feminist communication involves the creation and maintenance of relationships. This process involves supporting other people, encouraging participation, seeing equality, and putting efforts to enhance information disclosure. While women focus on understanding their peers during communication. On the other hand, men aim at accomplishing specified goals such as enhancement of status. The goal is to create an effective platform for interpersonal communication.
Furumo, Buxton, Philis, Higa, and FurUmo (2014) assert, “Men use communication to develop a higher status among peers by accomplishing instrumental objectives, communicating on command, being direct and assertive, abstractness, and no emotional response” (p. 5). The communication difference between men and women suggests that sex roles in the society are important pre-determinants of how people interact during face-to-face communication contexts.
The discussion of the differences between males and females in communication contexts suggests that different approaches to conflict management, including interpersonal conflicts would apply differently depending on the gender of people who are engaged in the conflict. Scholars have developed many models to describe various mechanisms for resolving interpersonal conflicts. One of such models was proposed by Thomas-Kilmann. According to his model, conflicts can be handled using five main styles, namely, accommodation, evasion, cooperation, antagonism, and concession.
Accommodation involves the decision to cooperate with parties in conflict in the highest possible degree. Often, one party works against his or her desired goals and/or outcomes. The strategy works well when one party in conflict has a better solution to a given problem (Furumo et al., 2014).
It helps in building strong ties between two or more parties in conflict. Alternatively, one may choose to ignore the need to resolve a given conflict. This approach entails resolving conflicts via avoiding it. The style works well when the effective solution is costly or when one perceives that he or she has minimal probability of winning, or when an issue in conflict is inconsequential. However, avoiding is not an effective strategy in the long-term (Furumo et al., 2014).
Collaboration includes partnering to follow a goal pursued by another party. During collaboration, effort is made to accommodate all people’s ideas for synthesis in the attempt to develop a single superior idea for resolving a conflict. Such an idea also needs to consider all points of agreement and disagreement between the collaborating parties (Furumo et al., 2014). This way, it becomes possible to break away from the win-lose strategy to explore the win-win strategy.
This approach requires an incredibly high capacity to trust one another in the development of a superior idea for resolving a conflict. The approach is opposed to the competing technique in which the focus is on the win-lose approach to conflict resolution. Competing approaches work well in times of dire need to make quick decisions. In the case of compromising, parties in conflict focus on the lose-lose strategy. The approach is best suited whenever parties in conflict pursue goals and objectives, which have no probability of converging.
Lee (2008) asserts that managers should engage in communication with the employees and other organizational stakeholders for a number of reasons. One of the reasons is attributed to the expensiveness of ineffective communication in an organization. In the modern workplace, the role of communication in management is important since workplace environments continue to be sophisticated. They also involve complex interaction processes among all the individual units that make the whole organization.
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Since men are objective in their communication while women seek to gain trust, the approaches may apply well in some contexts and not in others, depending on the gender of the people engaged in interpersonal conflicts. Indeed, this situation underlines the necessity for studying interpersonal communication difference between people in a given organizational context to help in developing specific approaches to resolving interpersonal conflicts within the unique organizational context. This paper seeks to achieve this concern in the context of Google Company.
The research will be conducted in Google Headquarters. In this study, quantitative research method will be used. The method includes survey interviews, which will be vital in interpreting the study. The interview questions are structured questions, which are known to be best for quantitative interviews since they do not need extra information from a respondent. The research will use the face-to-face interviews, which will help in establishing a good rapport with the participants to win their cooperation.
Such interviews not only help in clarifying ambiguity in answers but also provide information for follow-up. A reasonable sample will be selected to help in obtaining reliable information while cutting on the cost of the study. The study will use a sample of 100 respondents. The sample will be conducted through random sampling. The interviews will be used to determine whether interpersonal conflicts are significantly different when they occur between two males as opposed to two females.
Past research findings indicate that females and males communicate using dissimilar interactional styles. Although men and women have biological differences, adequate evidence is available indicating that they also possess social differences.
Patterns of cross-sex communication reflect differences in interpersonal communication contexts among males and females. In the event of interpersonal conflicts, sex roles and ways of interpersonal communication influence the effectiveness of interpersonal conflict management. Indeed, a conflict is inevitable in work relationships. Therefore, the mechanisms through which such conflicts are managed are critical in ensuring survival of the relationships.
Different organizational contexts have different issues that may lead to interpersonal conflicts. People employed within an organization have different genders. With the cognition that gender is an important factor that determines how people communicate at an interpersonal level, I propose to research about how this situation may play out at Google Company. Specifically, the research will seek to answer the question whether interpersonal conflicts are significantly different when they occur between two males as opposed to two females.
This question is anchored on literature that suggests that women and men focus differently in interpersonal communication contexts. While women focus more on establishing relationships and forming trust, men wish to assert authority. Men are less likely to compromise compared to women, who are majorly empathic.
Past research on interpersonal conflict management uses frameworks that are anchored on two principles, namely, self-concern and the concern about other people. Using these two frameworks, five mechanisms for dealing with conflicts are identified, namely, integrating, cooperating, dominating, avoiding, and obliging. Considering that females have higher chances of communicating interpersonally with the objective of establishing and maintaining relationships, they are more likely to deploy integration and the compromising approaches to interpersonal conflict management.
Since men communicate in work teams to ensure dominance and/or assert their authority, they are likely to deploy domination as an interpersonal conflict management approach. Therefore, the research hypothesizes that gender based differences at Google Company helps female employees to manage conflicts well in interpersonal communication contexts by straining to establish relationships and/or win trust. I propose using interviews to prove or disapprove this hypothesis to answer the research question.
Furumo, K., Buxton, M., Philis, E., Higa, K., & Furumo, H. (2014). Differences between male and female communications and conflict management styles in virtual teams. Journal of Management and Marketing Research, 17(1), 1-9.
Kimmel, M. (2008). Guyland: The perilous word where boys become men. New York, NY: Harper.
Lee, E. (2008). Communication network approaches to conflict management at the workplace and job satisfaction. London: LexisNexis.
Wood, J. (2011). Gendered lives: Communication, gender, and culture. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.