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.