Responding vs Reacting

Conflict is constant. In fact 85% of us at all different levels of professional experience will experience it.

How we choose to respond to this constant is the critical factor.

In the last blog post, we discussed how to identify the root or source of conflict by utilising the SCARF model. We also touched on how to embrace a more measured response in order to secure d a win-win for all parties involved in a conflict situation. The previous blog was primarily focused on understanding the other individual’s actor’s perspective and the overarching source of the conflict.

This time, we’re going to take a look at how we can each manage ourselves more effectively during conflict.

We are creatures of habit and the leading behavioral researchers in this area, Thomas & Kilmann, identify five common styles we use in conflict situations. Quite often we only employ one of these styles depending on how effectively it has served us during conflict’s (Kilmann Diagnostics, 2017).

Think of some of the recent conflicts you’ve experienced, both professionally and personally. Which style from the above image did you turn to? Once you’ve selected, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How does your default style limit the way you resolve conflict?
  2. In what way could you respond differently next time?

It all begins with your emotion and grabbing a hold of your amygdala before it hijacks the rational part of your brain.  How do you get a hold of your physiological and mental responses? By employing mindfulness techniques through a series of deep breaths, we can consciously consider the source of the conflict. This allows us to be in a far more controlled mental and physical state to deal with the conflict and begin to move towards a resolution.

Clear mind, clear decisions, clear resolutions.

If you’re a ‘nice person’ who prioritises empathy and conviviality, these situations can present quite a challenge.  Indeed, new research from Columbia University now shows that our ability to handle conflict can make or break our careers. But it’s important to note that conflict doesn’t need to be so uncomfortable, destructive and volatile. Give yourself that one second to stay ahead and to breath. You’ll develop professionally, personally and beyond if you embrace a conscious and mindful decision-making approach when faced with conflict.

Your ability to balance passivity and aggression by being assertive with conflict is the secret to dealing with these scenarios effectively. Being assertive requires you to learn to engage in healthy conflict – addressing the issue head on, without compromising or ignoring the needs of either party.

By choosing a more measured response and style using some of the tips above, you can assume more control and be in a far better position to manage a conflict situation as they arise.

Next time, which style will you show up with?