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Resolving conflict in interpersonal relationships using passive, aggressive, and assertive verbal statements

Steve Winer (Independent Researcher, Bradford, UK)
Leslie Ramos Salazar (Department of Computer Information and Decision Management, West Texas A&M University, Canyon, Texas, USA)
Amy M. Anderson (Department of Communication, Spokane Community College, Spokane, Washington, USA)
Mike Busch (Independent Researcher, Hudsonville, Michigan, USA)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 6 September 2023

Issue publication date: 13 February 2024




The purpose of this study is to extend Bippus and Young’s (2005) study and examine the effectiveness of the “I-you,” “I,” “You,” “We,” “But” and Question-based “Why” statements from Winer’s (2021) verbal coding program of conflict management using Bandura’s (1977) social learning theory (SLT).


Mixed methods were used using 175 university students from Texas and New York. A cross-sectional convenience sampling approach was conducted. Survey data was collected using Qualtrics.


Descriptive results demonstrated that the “We” statement was the most passive, the “I-you” statement was the most assertive and the “But,” “I,” “You” and Question statements were perceived to be aggressive. In addition, assertive “I-You” statements were perceived to be more effective in resolving the conflict and maintaining a relationship, whereas aggressive statements were less likely to resolve the conflict and maintain the relationship. Qualitative themes also support the “I-You” statement as the most assertive, while the “But,” “You” and “I” statements were found to be the most aggressive statements.

Practical implications

Implications and applications are discussed to stimulate future research among researchers and practitioners when addressing conflict. Being aware of the verbal statements that de-escalate conflict may be helpful in solving conflict in interpersonal, family and professional relationships. Future trainings can adopt effective verbal statements to resolve conflict when experiencing anger issues. Future research can continue to investigate verbal communication statements using SLT to help practitioners and managers address conflict in interpersonal relationships.


This study examines verbal statements in relation to communication styles and conflict management.



Since acceptance of this article, the following author has updated their affiliation: SteveWiner is at the Institute for Relationship Communication Training, Cerritos, CA, US.


Winer, S., Ramos Salazar, L., Anderson, A.M. and Busch, M. (2024), "Resolving conflict in interpersonal relationships using passive, aggressive, and assertive verbal statements", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 35 No. 2, pp. 334-359.



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