Conflicts are ingredients of human activities in the arena of life (Aula & Siira, 2010). It is when points of view, perspectives, and sentiments are opposite in nature and have not been concurred about yet, including: within oneself when you are not living according to one’s values; when values and standpoints are in jeopardy; or discomfort from fear of the unknown or from absence of satisfaction (Ramani & Zhimin, 2010). Clearly, conflict is pervasive and ubiquitous in societies and their affairs (Gulti, 2014). This means conflict occurs between individuals in a wide range of human affiliations and in every single social setting (Opoku-Asare, Takyi, & Owusu-Mensah, 2015) such as among organizations, within institutes, among the members of an association, and within the personality of each individual (Gulti, 2014). Consequently, Miller and King (2005) elucidated that conflict is an inevitable and unavoidable concomitant of choices and decision aspects of human interaction.
Conflict-free atmosphere is conducive to a creative and constructive school environment. However, it is undeniable that tensions and conflicts continue to be a factor in academic life (Ghaffar, 2010). Fleetwood (1987) stipulated that schools frequently appear to be centers of conflict and these scenarios are perhaps a manifestation of problems in the community. Likewise, Opoku-Asare et al. (2015) echoed that conflict inherently involves some struggle, incompatibility, or perceived differences in values, goals, or desires; characteristics, beliefs, and lifestyles; and power of influence and action between two or more parties in a relationship, combined with attempts to control each other and antagonistic feelings toward each other.
In the same way, Fekru (1993) pointed out that school conflict has been a common phenomenon for a long period of time. He stressed that the phenomena related to conflict has been thoroughly studied by philosophers, sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, and psychologists. Fekru’s claims supported Fleetwood (1987) study which described the nature and magnitude of conflict in the academic setting as astonishing since academic settings are full of different individuals such as administrators, teachers, students, and parents with different perceptions. The occurrence of conflict then, would likely be that of a daily meal.
Fleetwood (1987) further explained that these parties, particularly administrators and students see one another as adversaries not as those working toward a common goal, as it is generally the case in other organizations. This means that school administrators are expected to deal with conflict situations not only in a daily basis, but frequently on an hourly basis. Gulti (2014) emphasized that the absence of conflict usually signals the absence of meaningful interaction. Thus, finding ways to promote the common good or positive outcomes and minimize the dysfunctional effects of conflict is pivotal for the survival of an organization in general and school institutions in particular.
Pursuing the above concepts further, Gulti (2014) underscored that conflict by itself is neither good nor bad. However, Owens (1998) highlighted that it is in the manner in which conflict is handled determines whether it is constructive or destructive. It is on this premise that language use plays a critical role in conflict resolution. As Johnstone (2008) accentuated that people in every culture can hire politeness markers to use and interpret language appropriately in actual social interaction in order to avoid conflict. In addition, Woods (2006) emphasized that the crucial point in every interaction then can be studied by the amount and type of politeness strategies used by speaker/s and hearer/s in order to construct appropriate interpersonal relationships.
Lakoff (1975) elucidated that politeness has been developed to reduce friction in communication thus, considering politeness theory as one of the essential factors for a successful communication. In like manner, Hill, Ide, Ikuta, Kawasaki, and Ogino (1986) pointed out that it is one of the constraints on human interaction, whose purpose is to consider others’ feelings, establish levels of mutual comfort, and promote rapport. On the other hand, Ide (1989) argued that any misuse of these strategies can hinder the effective communication, leading to individuals’ dissatisfaction and indifference.
Putting things on a different perspective, politeness as a linguistic phenomenon has directed the attention of researchers (Lakoff, 1973; Geis, 1982; Brown & Levinson, 1987; Scollon & Scollon, 2001) in exploring the different areas and practical issues related to it thus, politeness theory has turned to a cornerstone by which the socially correct and appropriate behavior can be analyzed. Consequently, due to its importance in characterizing the elements specific to polite discourse and behavior, many studies (Matsumoto, 1989; Schmidt, Shimura, Wang, & Jeong, 1995; Pishghadam, 2011; Pishghadam & Navari, 2012) related to politeness theory in pragmatic linguistics has opened the doors to familiarizing the audience with politeness strategies in different cultures.
My qualitative study attempts to bridge the gap and issues on the appalling lack of research on the various aspects of training in the field of conflict resolution predominantly academic institutions run by the government throughout the country. Furthermore, there is a pressing need to gather tangible evidences and heavily documented reports from school systems of the positive effects of conflict resolution initiatives beneficial to the school’s stakeholders, hence the conduct of this research.
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