1. Steer clear of the guy from accounting because you are not sure if the shortage is personal or a mistake and you don't want to find out. Having it be your fault for some reason is more than you can deal with.
2. You are not going to rock the boat with the guy from accounting about your reimbursement check. You could have made a mistake on your expense report. It's probably your fault because you aren't great at math anyway.
3. You are setting up a time to chat with the guy from accounting about your reimbursement check being wrong. Not sure what happened, but you want to get it figured out just so everyone is on the same page.
4. You tell the guy from accounting to fix your check. And don't let it happen again.
5. You send an email to accounting asking them to look into this and you can wait until next pay cycle to get it cleared up.
All of these short scenarios describes a different way (style) of dealing with conflict.
1. This style is the "Avoider". This person avoids anything that is conflict, looks like conflict, or could become conflict. Engagement is not an option. Their fear is that it is personal (versus a math error) and they fear they will be attacked or blamed and that is too painful. This, believe it or not, is the most prevalent conflict style in America. I see this 3 to 1 over the other types in almost every one of my trainings. The benefits to this style are that it appears you are the laid back type and you pick your battles. In reality you don't battle at all and you are usually a mess inside. Avoiders feel a lot of stress because there is so much that is unresolved in their world. It is draining and they can begin to feel bitter because they don't ever "win" or get their way. The avoider will not address the situation.
2. This style is the "Accommodator". These folks are the first to say they are sorry. They may not have a clue what they are sorry about, but they say it. They are the first to take any and all blame (regardless of the situation). This is how they make the conflict go away. Just agree or become a yes man. The Accommodator does not like and indeed can not tolerate conflict. They may not have the skills to resolve the conflict. They definitely don't have the desire or energy it takes to resolve it. While the avoider will not address the situation in any way, the Accommodator will apologize for a mistake that is not theirs. They willingly take on the blame to make it all go away.
3. This style is the "Collaborator". This person wants everyone, every time, to have a say and to state their opinion and they value the "win/win". They want to "work it out", "discuss it", "hear from all sides". They are not afraid of conflict, because they don't necessarily look at problems as conflicts. They look at conflicts as misunderstandings, issues with lack of data, or unheard hurt feelings. These issues are all very manageable in the Collaborator's eyes. This style is a good thing because people feel heard (because they are, in fact, HEARD by the Collaborator) and there can be a strong sense of "team". The downside is that collaboration is a much (much) slower way to resolve conflict. When a decision needs to be made in a hurry or in a crisis for example, "Collaboration" is probably not the go to style. Collaborators are people oriented.
4. This style is the "Competitor". The competitor is important because they are quick to make decisions good or bad, right or wrong. They aren't afraid of making mistakes. They get things done. They take pride in being first, on top, the winner. The downside for the "Competitor" is that they don't really need, want, or see the necessity for anyones input. (This is actually the downside for those around the competitor vs. the competitor themselves.) They may unknowingly (or knowingly) walk on someone to get where they want to go. They are goal oriented vs. people oriented. If I sound harsh about the competitor, let me balance it by saying that the world would have a very difficult time functioning without Competitors.
5. This style is the "Compromiser". In my trainings, when we first start talking about this section, a lot of folks "want" to be Compromisers. They think it is "the style" to be. Until they realize Compromisers seldom "win" or get all they want. Compromisers naturally give in to (not to be confused with giving up to) "some" of what they want in order to resolve conflicts. Usually, with compromise, it isn't you win this time and I win next time. (Although this does occur - think large families.) Compromise is more commonly characterized as you get some of what you want, and I get some of what I want, and that repeats. Seldom a full on win for either person. On an up note however, if you are in a long term relationship such as marriage, business partner, long-term or best friend, you will have to learn to compromise to make it last. (Meaning, last in a healthy way). Compromise is an essential style to have on your tool belt, just not for every situation.
There are no right or wrong answers. And many times we use one conflict style at work and another at home. You may see yourself in more than one scenario, but usually one is dominant or represents your "go-to" style. In fact we need to have a good balance of all of these styles to be truly successful in life. Discovering your style can help you understand yourself. Knowing these conflict styles can help you understand others.
Ask yourself: Where did this style of behavior originate for me? How do I work with it? How does my conflict style affect my life?
I can help you answer those questions.
What is your style? Let us know in the comments section.
Watch for upcoming posts where I will revisit each conflict style in more depth.