When you think of conflict between two people, what comes to mind? Argument? Disagreement? Hurt feelings? When you think of conflict in the workplace, what comes to mind? Gossiping? Missed deadlines? Unequal workload? When thinking of conflict, many things can be imagined.
At its core, conflict is a difference of opinions involving strong emotions. Based in neuroscience, we know that people will first react with emotion (even for only a split second) then respond with logic. Conflict sparks different behaviors in each of us—a continuum really, ranging from being productive and healthy to being destructive and unhealthy. Most likely you have experienced this continuum of behaviors!
Conflict can be very uncomfortable for some people, yet it is a natural and inevitable part of relationships. It is situation dependent and different for each person involved. The two keys to getting through conflict challenges are realizing there is no “one size fits all” resolution and the answer to conflict begins with each of us as individuals.
One of the best ways to do this is to more deeply know each other’s styles. By doing so, you will understand the particular behaviors of each style and how they may differ from your own. This is particularly helpful in times of conflict since most of us have automatic thoughts and responses that are a result of our style. For example, at the mere hint of disagreement, confrontation, hurt feelings, etc. some people can exhibit potentially destructive behaviors:
- Overpower and become aggressive,
- Get overly dramatic,
- Cave in so as to avoid tension, and
- Overpower with logic and facts.
Sound like you or anyone you know? If you want to know more about styles or “people reading” contact me here.
Since we cannot control how others respond to conflict, our response to a conflict situation is entirely within our own control. If you want to know more about styles, check out the sample report of a powerful style assessment, Everything DiSC® Productive Conflict.
Once we are familiar with each other’s styles, we can have healthier, more productive conflict so we remain engaged with others. So here’s what we can do during our conflict challenges – I call it flexing our styles:
- For someone who has a firm, direct and strong-willed style: speak up logically about the problem(s) and address other issue(s) honestly and directly.
- For someone who is outgoing, enthusiastic and optimistic, know they will want to express feelings and be empathetic: listen, let them know you care about where they are coming from and if emotions escalate, take a brief time-out.
- For someone who is more even-tempered, patient and tactful, they will want to listen to a variety of perspectives and remain calm: give them ample time and space to express themselves (and even encourage them to discuss) all the while remaining tactful and diplomatic.
- For someone who is more analytical, reserved and precise, they will want to be objective and use logic: allow time for reflection and it’s important to remain calm and objective.
No matter how we define and experience conflict, it is a natural part of living. If we want to generate the very best ideas and solutions to problems and challenges, our long-term strategy can be strengthening the bedrock of flourishing teams (trust) and mastering healthy, productive conflict in our relationships. It is entirely within our control.