Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Does Locus of Control Predict Young Adult Conflict Strategies with Superiors? an Examination of Control Orientation and the Organizational Communication Conflict Instrument

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Does Locus of Control Predict Young Adult Conflict Strategies with Superiors? an Examination of Control Orientation and the Organizational Communication Conflict Instrument

Article excerpt

How an individual approaches interpersonal conflict can be influenced by contextual factors as well as personality traits. For example, it may be that young adults are influenced by their family of origin when it comes to conflict management, which would imply a social learning effect (Bandura, 1986). People may also be influenced by contextual dimensions such as power inequalities in organizations (Burgoon, Berger & Waldron, 2000; Weitzman & Weitzman, 2006). However, much research indicates that certain trait-like tendencies are more reliable in predicting whether individuals will attempt to control conflict, look for mutual solutions, or avoid conflict all together (Jones & Melcher, 1982; Moberg, 2001; Noore, 2006). The following is an overview of communication skills in the work place, locus of control, and conflict management.

Communication Skills

The study of communication skills evolved from the general interest in communication competence, which refers to general social skills (i.e., listening, immediacy, politeness), along with linguistic and relational competence (Spitzburg & Cupach, 1984). There has been a consensus among employers that relative to individual IQ, it is often individual communication skills that determine long term success in the work place. Research indicates that today's young adults have difficulty managing a host of communication skills, including taking criticism and negotiating disagreements (Gardner & Lambert, 1994; Goleman, 1998; Weitzman & Weitzman, 2006). It can be argued that people of all ages, but especially young adults about to enter the work force, may be deficient in some communications skills considered beneficial to work environments, such as active listening, perspective taking, and brainstorming solutions to problems in order to handle conflict effectively (Weitzman & Weitzman, 2006). Gardner and Lambert (1994) claimed that college educated people in their 20s and 30s reported feeling unskilled in interpersonal conflict in the work place. Weitzman and Weitzman's (2006) study on conflict training in the workplace posited that task and social demands of a job actually encourage young adult development by motivating them to integrate their emotions, cognition, and personal as well as organizational needs when dealing with conflict. Hence, it is important for scholars, schools, and employers to recognize the importance of social skills due to their connection to intellectual and relational growth.

Trait Influence and Communication Skills

Although there is research to suggest training in social skills can be beneficial, other research (see Moberg, 2001; Richmond, McCroskey, & McCroskey, 1989) indicates that the influence of traits is as important when examining communication competence and, in turn, could be useful in predicting employee performance in organizational settings. In regard to the work place, Jones and Melcher (1982) argued that managers of organizations must be cognizant of the fact that regardless of context, individual personality traits may be highly predictive of certain conflict strategies.

For example, Richmond, McCroskey, and McCroskey (1989) found communication apprehension, measured as a trait-like variable, to be negatively associated with self perceived communication competence. Moberg (2001) found that personality factors, such as those measured by the five factor model, predict conflict management while other research indicated that traits such as verbal aggression, locus of control, and Machiavellianism, which refers to the relational strategy of manipulating others in order to serve one's personal interests, were all predictive of conflict styles in organizational environments as well as home environments (Canary, Cunningham, and Cody, 1988; Jones & Melcher, 1982; Noore, 2006; Wilson, Near, & Miller, 1996). More specifically, Jones and Melcher (1982) found Machiavellianism to be positively associated with confrontation and negatively associated with soothing during conflict. …

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