What’s Your Conflict Style?

In my last blog I gave tips on how to defuse and deal with conflict. This week I am looking at the different ways individuals react to conflict. 

How we react to conflict is influenced by our personality type – some people are more likely to fight back, others are more likely to avoid the conflict, or give in to the other person, or find a compromise, or seek a solution that meets everyone’s needs.  This is a balance between how assertive about your position or co-operative towards others you tend to be – see diagram, based on the Thomas-Kilmann conflict inventory. 

Individual differences in how extraverted or introverted you are and whether you try to influence people by either telling them what to do, or by giving them information,  can influence the approach you take to handling conflict. 

People who are more extraverted and have a more directing “tell” style of communication, are more likely to fight back and compete when disagreement arises – this is the Mobiliser style. 

People with the Mobiliser style have an urgent need to get things done and believe it’s worth the risk to go ahead and act even if not all the details have been worked out, or others don’t agree with them.  They tend to want to push through the obstacles.  This can be at odds with the approaches other people want to take, and it can quickly escalate into conflict. 

People who are more introverted and have a more informing “suggest” style of communication, are more likely to back down and accommodate the other person when disagreement arises – this is the Synthesiser style of interaction. 

People with the Synthesiser style have a pressing need to integrate lots of information and input to get to the best result.  They believe it’s worth the time this takes and they want to hold off acting or making a decision until they have the full picture.  This can conflict with people who have different personalities and especially with Mobilisers who want to get quick action.

People who are more extraverted and have a more informing “suggest” style of communication, are more likely to compromise with the other person when disagreement arises.  But compromise isn’t necessarily a good thing – it can lead to the worst of both worlds rather than the best.  People with the Energiser style of interaction are more likely to compromise when disagreement occurs. 

People with the Energiser style have an urgent need to involve people and they believe it’s worth the energy it takes to do this – they will keep talking and involving people in order to get to a compromise on which they can all agree.  This approach can create a chaotic atmosphere for other people.   

People who are more introverted and have a more directing “tell” style of communication, are more likely to avoid conflict when disagreement arises.  This can help to defuse the situation temporarily, but if the underlying conflict is never addressed, it can ripple out and affect other people.  People with the Navigator style of interaction tend to avoid conflict.

People with the Navigator style have a pressing need to work out what is going to happen and they believe it’s worth the effort to think ahead and plan to mitigate risks.  This can appear to slow things down and exclude others.

Interaction StyleIn conflict tends to..Top tip when handling conflict
MobilisersCompeteControl your urgency to get things done, slow down and listen to others. 
SynthesisersAccommodateDon’t give in – be more assertive and advocate your position more strongly   
EnergisersCompromiseAvoid creating a frantic atmosphere – be calm and let others speak 
NavigatorsAvoidSpeak up for your view and ask questions to explore what others want

For more insight into your own styles, and how to manage your emotions during conflict, see How to Get On with Anyone

The What’s Your Style cards are a handy reference to how to connect with different types and avoid triggering their negative emotions.  Email contact@essenwood.co.uk  to place an order. 

Next week – how to develop collaborative behaviours

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