Fight or flight is innate to who we are.  How we respond to conflict can be situational, depending on who the conflict is with, and how the outcome will affect us.  But we all have a primary conflict style, that serves as a default when situations arise.  There are 5 conflict styles:

  • Competers – believe they are right and fight for their way, they are goal oriented.
  • Collaborators – tend to look for win – win situations and build trust.
  • Compromisers – don’t seek to win, their goal is to find middle ground that both parties can agree on and move on.
  • Accommodators – are not necessarily avoiders, but are anxious to exit the situation and willing to go along to maintain the relationship.
  • Avoiders – are non-confrontational. They are uncomfortable and often feel intimidated.

The two extremes are competers and avoiders.  Both are tough to deal with in business, and both lead to team disfunction.  The competer can be aggressive and damage relationships permanently.  Avoiders risk losing respect from the team by refusing to engage.

Conflict can be healthy, and an opportunity for progress, when each party enters with a goal of meeting on common ground. Dale Carnegie said when we want to create an environment of cooperation, “appeal to the nobler motive”.  He was suggesting we look at the bigger picture before entering a potential conflict situation.

When we approach a conflict by pointing out common ground and common goals up front, we are no longer attacking the other person, but instead, we attack the problem as a team.

Download Dale Carnegie’s latest white paper on “Recognizing Leadership Blind Spots.”

Posted by Bob Price

Bob brings a very diverse background to his position Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Dale Carnegie Training. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo he was recruited into an operations management position with a national industrial chemical distributor. The operations background in distribution gave him the foundation to move into a successful career selling chemicals and the company’s hazardous waste management program which he received their highest performance award twice. He moved away from industrial sales to more strategic solution based sales when he joined Right Management the largest global career transition company in the world. There he worked with senior managers to design solutions to deliver specific predetermined results. As the Vice President of Strategic Solutions with Dale Carnegie, Bob has worked with companies both large and small to collaborate on professional growth strategies which provide his clients with the tools and resources to achieve their organization goals and objectives. He has been nationally recognized in the top 10% of Dale Carnegie’s consultants for each of the past three years.

One Comment

  1. Conflict is evidence of two things: People being engaged enough to have a clear opinion / perspective, and they care enough about the outcome to defend it. Passionless people working on things they do not think matter may produce a conflict-free environment, but then who cares? The best solutions come from the energy passionate people are willing to expend solving the problem, so learn to have constructive conflict that brings you into violent agreement with the “enemy” you think you have.



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