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PUGSS: A Conflict Management Process
On the previous page, we reviewed five conflict management styles. Here, we’re going to discuss a specific model of conflict management that is called the PUGSS model, which based on the work of Drs. Timothy Mottet and Steven Beebe. This model represents a way to engage in collaborative conflict management. Now, with this model, we’re not talking about the cute little four-legged pet,
This image was retrieved from http://thechantiki.com/2009/04/coo-worthy-pugs/
but an acronym for conflict resolution. The letters stand for:
define the Problem,
achieve mutual Understanding,
brainstorm Solutions, and
select the best Solution.
Let’s break this model down to talk about each of these components.
Define the Problem
The first step to managing and resolving conflict is to clearly define the problem. What is the incompatible goal, the scarce resources, and the interference?
On the previous page, What is Interpersonal Conflict, we separated the element of perception from incompatible goals, resources, and interference for the sake of explaining them. It’s important, however, to acknowledge that these elements come back together in the same definition. Many times we perceive we have incompatible goals, that there are scarce resources, and that the other person is interfering in our ability to achieve our goal. Shifting our perceptions can therefore be a critical first element of resolving conflict. By asking what is the problem and why do we perceive it as incompatible with the other person’s goal, we can work to start to address the source of conflict or maybe even discover that there isn’t really a problem.
In this step, we want to focus on describing the other person’s behavior rather than evaluating them as a person. We can do this by using “I” statements rather than “You” statements. For instance, instead of saying “You’re always late. Why are you so inconsiderate?” we’d want to say “When you’re late to our meetings, we have to spend more time bringing you up to speed. I get frustrated that we’re spending our time in this way. Would you please come on time?” As discussed in the verbal communication chapter, using language in this way creates a more supportive rather than defensive communication climate, which can keep conflict from escalating into “fighting.”
Achieve Mutual Understanding
Once the problem has been defined we need to ensure that everyone in the conflict fully understands what this problem is and why we perceive it as a problem. To do this, we want to ask questions like “do you understand why I believe there is a problem?” and “do you understand why I feel this way?” We can aim to ensure others understand by encouraging them to paraphrase back to us what the problem is rather than simply saying “Yeah, I understand.”
If there is no mutual understanding, then we must return to describing the problem. Here we need to adapt how we explain the problem and offer a different perspective, perhaps by relating the problem to something that they can identify with.
After achieving mutual understanding, it’s important to identify what each person wants from the situation and what common goals are shared. We’d want to ask questions like “What is it you need and want and why is it important to you?” and “What common goals do we have?”
When we’re in conflict with others, it’s easy to become so focused on what we want that we may overlook what we both want. By shifting the focus to what goals we share, we focus on where we agree rather than where we disagree.
When we understand what each person wants from the situation, we can begin to generate numerous solutions. In doing so, it’s important that we withhold all evaluations because this hinders the process of generating solutions. The more potential solutions generated, the more likely a feasible solution will surface that meets everyone’s goals.
Select the Best Solution
After generating a list of potential solutions, we can then evaluate each solution. We want to make sure to refrain from evaluating the person who generated the solution and steer clear of using emotionally laden language. When we use intensive language like “Well that’s a stupid idea,” we’re likely to create defensiveness from the person who suggested the idea. Rather, we should state, “Well, that idea won’t work because it doesn’t address the fact that I have to work late.” Remember, in selecting the best solution that we want to ensure that everyone’s goals are addressed.
The PUGSS model provides a prescription for how we can manage the conflict process. By clearly defining the problem, achieving understanding, identifying our goals, generating solutions, and selecting the best solution we’re engaging in more collaborative, competent communication that will help us avoid destructive conflict.
On the next page, you’ll read the instructions for your PUGSS analysis paper and the accompanying script about a situation that occurred between Dana and Rick.
PUGSS Analysis Assignment Instructions
Now that we’ve defined interpersonal conflict and examined a model of conflict management called PUGSS, you’re ready to complete the PUGSS Analysis paper. To complete this assignment, you will need to:
Read through a conflict script between Rick and Dana. (Bottom of instructions)
Identify what elements of the PUGSS model are missing.
Offer prescriptions for what the characters could’ve done to communicate according to the PUGSS model.
Identify any other elements about effective conflict (or communication in general) discussed in the textbook that you see the characters do.
Type a 2-3 page essay that addresses each of these objectives and submit it as a .docx or .rtf file to this dropbox, titled “PUGSS Analysis."
I will use the following rubric to grade the paper.
What does an A, B, C, and D/F paper look like? (out of 100 points)
In an A paper—Information clearly relates to the main topic and includes several supporting details and/or examples. The paper clearly reflects knowledge obtained in the course and from the textbook. All sections of the paper are addressed with at least a full paragraph (approximately 4-6 sentences) dedicated to each. Directly quoted and paraphrased information is accurately documented in either APA or MLA formatting. Information is very organized with well-constructed paragraphs and subheadings. No grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors. All paragraphs include introductory sentence, explanations or details, and a concluding sentence.
In a B paper—Information mostly relates to the main topic and provides 1-2 supporting details and/or examples. The paper generally reflects knowledge obtained in the course. All sections of the paper are addressed with at least 2-3 sentences dedicated to each. Directly quoted and paraphrased information resembles accurate APA or MLA formatting. Information is relatively organized with well-constructed paragraphs. There are almost no grammatical spelling or punctuation errors. Most paragraphs include an introductory sentence, explanations or details and a concluding sentence.
In a C paper—Information somewhat relates to the main topic, but few to no examples or details are given. The paper rarely reflects knowledge obtained in the course. All sections of the paper are addressed and most questions are answered with 1 sentence about each. Directly quoted and paraphrased information is documented, but the formatting loosely resembles APA or MLA formatting. Information is somewhat organized with average paragraph construction. A few grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors exist. Paragraphs include related information but were not well constructed.
In a D/F paper—Information has little or nothing to do with the main topic. The paper does little or nothing to resemble knowledge obtained in the course. One or more sections of the paper are not addressed. Direct quotes or paraphrased information is not properly attributed to the author(s). The information appears to be disorganized. Many grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors exist, paragraph structure is not clear, and sentences were not typically related within the paragraphs.
Dana and Rick are working together on a class project. Rick has been arriving to their meetings late. Dana is addressing this problem.
Rick: Dana, I’m sorry I’m late again.
Dana: It’s ok Rick… (looks mad)
Rick: Are you sure because you look upset?
Dana: Yeah… it’s just… whatever…
Rick: Dana, if something’s bothering you, you need to tell me.
Dana: Well… you’re late again.
Rick: I know and I said I’m sorry.
Dana: I know you did, but you’ve been late the past 3 times we’ve gotten together. I’m starting to think you don’t care about the project as much as I do.
Rick: Of course, I care.
Dana: Ok, well you say you care, but here’s what I see… You arrive at least 5 minutes late to our meeting and when you’re here, you just go along with whatever I’m saying rather than putting any thought into our project. And then when I ask you a question, you act annoyed because I’m interrupting your texting or Facebooking or whatever you’re doing on that thing. This project affects both of our grades, but I feel frustrated that I’m the only one putting effort into the project.
Rick: Oh so I’m supposed to look happy when I’m taking time to be here doing something I don’t want to do.
Dana: I didn’t say that.
Rick: You said I look annoyed.
Dana: I did, but it’s not my fault that we’re having to do this project.
Rick: Well I know that but it shouldn’t matter that I don’t act happy or excited to be here.
Dana: Let me try again… I’m frustrated that when we schedule to meet, I’m taking additional time out of my schedule to wait on you. And then when we are working I get frustrated that we’re not working together more on the project. I think we would have a better project if we worked together. Otherwise, I might as well work on it alone.
Rick: Then maybe we shouldn’t work together.
Dana: Well, that’s not what I want. I want you to understand why I’m upset.
Rick: Well, I’m sorry you feel that way, but you shouldn’t.
Dana: But do you understand why I am upset?
Rick: Yea, sure… I guess so.
Dana: Ok then. All I want is for us to agree to arrive on time and work together on the project.
Rick: Well, I can’t be here any earlier. I’ve got back-to-back classes on the other side of campus. Maybe we should find a later time to meet.
Dana: Or we could find a different place to meet if it’s hard for you to get to the library.
Rick: Or we could meet on a different day when I have fewer classes.
Dana: But this is the only day of the week I’m on campus.
Rick: Oh so I’m just supposed to think about what’s convenient for you?
Dana: That’s not what I meant. It would be good though if we could find a day and time that works for both of us.
Rick: But this time does work. You’re just being anal retentive about punctuality.
Dana: Fine Rick. We’ll meet at this time and this location! I’ll just use the time I’m waiting on you to work on my other homework. But can you please participate more?
PUGSS: A Conflict Management Process
On the previous page, we reviewed five conflict management styles. Here, we’re going to discuss a specific model of conflict management that is called the PUGSS model, which based on the work of Drs. Timothy Mottet and Steven Beebe. This model represents a way to engage in collaborative conflict management.