Put Up Your Dukes

One thing that is as inevitable as death and/or taxes is conflict. It will happen. Because we are all human we will disagree and there will be times this disagreement will escalate. That is why we need recognize it, understand it, and develop a strategy to deal with it.

Part of my job involves doing teacher trainings, seminars, and attending events as a speaker. Conflict and how to handle it is always a popular topic because it is real – tangible – we all face it not only at work but also in our lives at home. When conflict grows and festers it can break apart friendships and families. When resolved properly, conflict allows relationships to be restored, and sometimes even strengthened.

We are still exploring the thread of personality and how we handle conflict is deeply embedded in our personality type and preferences.

Two Types of Conflict

There are two types of conflict:  destructive and productive. Destructive conflict occurs when people refuse to listen or work together to solve their differences. They might feel that others will never understand their point of view. Everything becomes a win-lose situation:  if you win, then I lose, or vice versa.

Destructive conflict is very competitive. Instead of attacking the problem, individuals attack one another. Everything becomes personal. Even the slightest critique or suggestion becomes a major insult. Since people fear getting the “short end of the stick,” they lack the patience needed to resolve differences peacefully.

Productive conflict focuses on the path forward. It is looking for common ground to build on. It requires cooperation in order to develop possible solutions. People who are in a “productive conflict mode” view disagreement as a challenge that will cause everyone to learn and grow. They acknowledge the problem as a setback, but instead of blaming or attacking one another, they ask questions and identify the real problem that needs to be solved. They acknowledge that a lasting solution requires everyone to work together.

Your particular personality type and the preferences you have affect the way you react to, and interact with others, especially when tensions are high. In the next blog we’ll talk about the 5 major default modes for handling conflict, how to identify where you fall in the spectrum, and how you can empower yourself to handle conflict most effectively, even when you have to interact in a mode that is out of your comfort zone.