When it comes to conflict, we often have two natural responses – avoid it or engage in it. People who avoid tend to shy away from disagreements, try to please people, and do not want the dynamics of a situation to change. On the other hand, those who seek out conflict might look eager to engage in disagreements, value honesty, and get angry when someone is not being direct.
No matter which side of conflict you lean towards, understanding how you handle disagreements and ways to communicate better will help you in the workplace.
If you are currently looking for a job, being able to talk about your conflict style could help you get hired. Employers want to know during an interview that you can effectively deal with disagreements and solve issues.
Do you know your conflict style? Find out more below.
Our different personalities make us unique. But in the workplace, they can cause conflict from time to time. Understanding your conflict style can help you better communicate with co-workers, management, and customers.
Employers who encourage their staff to learn about their conflict styles create more inclusive workplaces. And those who learn how to manage their own conflict style tend to have better relationships in their professional and personal lives.
You can learn about your conflict style by completing a self-assessment. Many assessments are available online or through a professional consultant.
Usually, there are four possible types of conflict, which include:
- Dominance: Likes challenges, freedom, immediate results and rewards, bluntness, brevity, and capable leaders.
- Compliance: Avoids risks, likes thorough research and quality work, and embraces cooperation.
- Inducement: Enjoys recognition and meeting people, as well as things that are new, different or unusual.
- Steadiness: Likes stability, predictability, titles, the feeling of belonging and repeated affirmation.
After completing an assessment, you can see which type you fall under and how best to navigate conflicts.
You can also learn about conflict styles from other sources. Look for patterns in how you and your co-workers handle conflict. Ask others for input and even reach out directly when you are unsure. Once you understand the dynamics of conflict styles in your workplace, you can make more informed choices when communicating.
Managing conflict styles in the workplace
Once you understand conflict styles, you can decide how to communicate when disagreements come up. Here are some scenarios you can use to manage conflict in the workplace.
Both people avoid conflict
When both people avoid conflict, both may lean towards doing nothing. This can lead to harboring feelings that come out after the fact.
What you can do: One person needs to take the lead. It is okay to say something like, “I know neither of us likes conflict, but what can we do about it?”. Although it may be uncomfortable, do your best to draw out the other person in a thoughtful, sensitive way.
Both people seek out conflict
In this situation, neither person shies away from conflict and are not afraid to share what’s on their mind. In the heat of the moment, someone might say something that they do not mean.
What you can do: Both people may be eager to address the situation. Take time to think about the conversation and prepare ahead if possible. If needed, suggest a break or change of scenery.
You seek out conflict and the other person avoids it
You tend to dominate the conversation. The other person might come off as passive aggressive to get their point across.
What you can do: Ask the person to actively participate in the conversation and not hide their feelings. Be sure that you are listening to what they have to say. Be patient and do not bully the other person.
You avoid conflict and the other person seeks it out
You might go along with what the other person is saying, regardless of if you agree. You might leave the conversation feeling unheard.
What you can do: Be clear about what you need. Be direct but respectful to the other person.
Whatever your conflict style is, your goal should be to come to a resolution. While we might all have different personalities and ways of dealing with situations, it’s important to be able to work together effectively in the workplace. By learning how to deal with your conflict style as well as others’, you can navigate issues thoughtfully.
*The information in this article is intended solely to provide general information on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. This article should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, medical, or other competent advisors.