Conflict Resolution

Note: This is the course page for PAF 420, Fall 2010

Interpersonal Conflict Resolution Skills
PAF 420, Fall 2010

Hall of Languages Room 115
6 to 9 p.m. Fridays, Oct. 8, 15, 22, 29
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, Oct. 9, 16, 23, 30
Instructor: Greg Munno, 315.730.4621;
Office hours by appointment. Please feel free to email or call me at anytime.

In this course you will learn, practice and develop theories, strategies and behaviors to help you understand and manage conflict constructively. Core concepts and skills include theories of conflict, framing, reflective listening, interest-based negotiation and coming to agreement.

Required Text

Difficult Discussions: How to Discuss What Matters Most. Available on Amazon at

Other required readings are listed in this syllabus and are available on the course Web site at

Slides and Presentations

I’ve been adding cumulatively to this slide show and will update this link regularly. Please note that some of these slides lack proper attribution. Like most of the materials for this class, the information comes from the course readings and has been gleaned from lectures by Maxwell School professors including Catherine Gerard, Bruce Dayton, Tina Nabatchi, Chris Merchant and others.

Grading and Deadlines

Class participation: 50%
This course is about you. It’s about understanding what gets you into conflict, and what you need to constructively transform those conflicts. It’s about understanding your core interests and values. It’s about developing the skills necessary to help you protect and advance those interests and values in conflict situations. Therefore, it is largely a course of self-exploration and expression. As such, class attendance is key, and participation is crucial.

I will be informally grading you each and every class, and using those scores to come up with a overall participation grade for the course.

Not coming to class gets you a “0” for the day. If you must miss a class, you will have to get my permission in advance, which will not be given lightly. Again, an unexcused absence – that is any absence that is not approved by me in advance – will earn you a zero for the day.

If you attend class, demonstrate that you are prepared, contribute meaningfully to the discussion, and respectfully interact with your classmates (no personal attacks, no dominating of the conversation) you will receive a 100 for that class. On the first day of class, we will work together to establish ground-rules of participation, and based on that you will have a better idea of what is expected of you in class.

Participation is not graded on a curve. If everyone in the class attends every session and makes meaningful contributions in a constructive way, everyone taking this course can earn a 100 for their class participation, which constitutes half your grade.

Personal Conflict Analysis: 50 percent
There are three distinct parts and deadlines to this project.

  1. Due Friday, Oct. 15: Write a two-to-four page narrative (12 point, double spaced, 1 inch margins) of a conflict you have been involved in. Ideally, this would be an ongoing conflict. It could come from any sphere of your life – home, work, or social. Make sure you identify the key players and try to articulate the conflict from each of their perspectives. Provide a bit of history on the conflict and where it currently stands.
  2. Due Friday, Oct. 22: Write a two-to-four page paper (12 point, double spaced, 1 inch margins) that analyzes your own narrative from a third-person perspective. Use the tools you have been given in class – frames of conflict, Johari’s Window, negotiability, intractability, personality typing – to examine the conflict, as well as your role in it.
  3. Due Friday, Oct. 29: Based on the comments of your classmates and the additional readings and class work you have been able to absorb since writing your draft, write a final version of your conflict analysis that includes recommendations to yourself on strategies you might employ for resolving, transforming or managing the conflict in a constructive way. Length is not really important here, but I would imagine you would need at least three pages to do this successfully, and that if you focus your writing you will not need more than six pages.

Steps one and two will be graded on a “check,” “check minus” and “check plus” basis. Mostly, I am looking for effort, meeting the deadline and the beginnings of knowledge application.

Effort and meeting the deadline are also crucial for step three, but my focus will more be on application of knowledge, creative thinking, and writing style (clear and concise sentence structure and overall organization.) In other words, missing the final deadline will significantly hurt your grade – I will lower it a full grade for every day it is late – but making that deadline is not enough to ensure a good grade. It will also have to be clear to me that you read the material, thought about how it applied to your case and spent some time on the writing in order to clearly form and communicate your ideas.

Class 1: Friday, Oct. 8

Due: Nothing
Readings: None
Class outline:

  1. Introductions
  2. Review of syllabus
  3. Discussion: Ground rules for class participation
  4. Discussion: What is conflict? What conflicts are you personally interested/involved in?
  5. Discussion: Are all conflicts bad? What’s the difference between conflict resolution, conflict transformation and conflict management?
  6. Discussion: What is meant by “interpersonal”? What types of conflicts are interpersonal? What types of skills do you want/need to develop to effectively deal with the conflict in your lives?

Class 2: Saturday, Oct. 9

Note: Class will start at 10 a.m. to allow for the completion of the Myers-Briggs Assessment test at You must take this test, print out the results and bring them to class.

Due: Nothing
Readings: None
Class outline:

  1. One-on-one, student-to-student discussion of personal conflict narrative
  2. Introduction and discussion of conflict analysis and mapping
    • Stakeholders and participants
    • Duration and intensity
    • Cognitive, structural, emotional and interest-based conflict
  3. Presentation: Myers-Briggs Self Assessment
  4. Discussion: Myers-Briggs
  5. Complete Conflict Behavior Survey and Discuss
  6. Complete Type A/B Assessment and Discuss
  7. Complete Work Needs Assessment Inventory and Discuss
  8. General discussion: How does knowing ourselves help us manage conflict constructively? Do these assessments help us understand ourselves? How? What are their shortcomings?

Class 3, Friday, Oct. 15

Due: 2-to-4 page personal conflict narrative

  1. Obtain and begin Difficult Conversations
  2. Bolman and Deal (2008). Reframing Organizations. Chapter 1. pp. 3 to 22.
  3. Nelson, et al. (1997). Media Framing of a Civil Liberties Conflict and its Effect on Tolerance.
  4. Kriesberg (2009). Waging Conflicts Constructively.

Class Outline:

  1. Discussion: Framing as a tool for understanding and transforming work-related conflicts
  2. Four-Frames Self Assessment – complete and discuss

Class 4, Saturday, Oct. 16

Due: Nothing
Readings: See Friday, Oct. 15
Class outline:

  1. Waging conflict effectively and constructively – message framing
  2. Workshop of Personal Conflict Narratives

Class 5, Friday, Oct. 22

Due: Draft of analysis of  personal conflict narrative

  1. Continue with Difficult Conversations.
  2. Getting to Yes Chapters 1 and 6

Class outline:

  1. Strategic thinking and goal setting
  2. Interest-based negotiation
  3. Difference between interests and positions
  4. Why negotiate: BATNA, WATNA and MATNA

Class 6, Saturday, Oct. 23

Due: Nothing
Readings: See Friday, Oct. 22
Class outline:

  1. Active listening
    • Overview
    • Discussion
    • Exercises
    • Discussion
  2. Workshop draft personal conflict analysis

Class 7, Friday, Oct. 29

Due: Your final papers, which should include a copy of your original narratives, your revised analysis of the conflict, and your recommendations to yourself for managing the conflict and developing the skills to transform it.
Readings: Have finished “Difficult Conversations
Class outline:

  1. Assertion
  2. Saying “No”
  3. Coming to agreement
  4. Monitoring

Class 8, Saturday, Oct. 30

  1. Difficult conversations and creating learning discussions
  • Key concepts
  • Discussion
  1. Paper presentations and discussions
  2. Wrap up and conclusions


The Syracuse University Academic Integrity Policy holds students accountable for the integrity of the work they submit. Students should be familiar with the Policy and know that it is their responsibility to learn about instructor and general academic expectations with regard to proper citation of sources in written work. The policy also governs the integrity of work submitted in exams and assignments as well as the veracity of signatures on attendance sheets and other verifications of participation in class activities. Serious sanctions can result from academic dishonesty of any sort. For more information and the complete policy, see the Academic Integrity Policy and Procedures at b

It is the student’s responsibility to understand the definition of academic honesty, but if you are ever in doubt, please ask me before you do something that could put your academic career in jeopardy!


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