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What Is Your Conflict Style?

With my next Couples Workshop coming up at the end of August I thought I’d write a little about one of the topics we cover in that training day.

Conflict is inevitable - how we handle it is a choice.

True, but most of us have developed patterns from dealing with conflict as early as childhood that we cling to or use instinctively. It takes real work and conscious awareness and choice to learn other ways of handling conflict.

Let’s talk about the 5 styles that this particular model highlights. This model is thanks to the work that Mennonites do around conflict resolution and working for peace globally. This model is also credited as the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Modes.

Here are the styles. Let’s talk about them as they apply to a couple.

Collaborating - Both people clearly share what they think and want. Their opinions and desired outcomes are overt and the couple talks their way to solution that clearly meets what they both want. This is high on the assertiveness scale and is also highly cooperative.

Forcing - In forcing one person is insisting on their way. They are being highly “assertive” or potentially aggressive. They are not being cooperative.

Compromising - This is just like it sounds. Both people share what their ideal is and both give up a little and get a little of their ideal in order to find a solution for both of them. This lands in the middle of both how assertive and how cooperative each person needs to be for this to work.

Avoiding - We all know people who hate conflict, are scared of it and try to avoid the tough conversations. It makes sense that this style is low on being assertive. What is shocking to some people is that this style is uncooperative! By resisting sharing my thoughts and feelings on a situation I am preventing the conflict from being resolved. It is actually a power position even though it likely doesn’t feel like that to the person who is avoiding.

Accommodating - In this style we let the other person’s opinion, desire, choice win. We don’t assert our preferences but “cooperate” by letting their preference be the one we go with. This is low on assertiveness but high on cooperativeness. The topic is not avoided, we simply let go of our agenda in favor of the other person’s.

Let's view them in a graph.

I find it easy to have a gut reaction to some of these. However, if we think about these styles as languages instead of ways of doing life something shifts.

There are times when each of these styles (languages) is important and relevant. If I can only speak 1 or 2 of these languages then I get stuck in some pretty unhealthy ways of communicating and doing relationships.

Let’s take “forcing” for example. Most of the time, not a great way of handling a relationship. However, if we are talking about an emergency situation where clearly there is one correct way forward for safety or where the other person’s cognitive decision-making is impaired then forcing is clearly the best choice.

Homework Option #1 - come up with scenarios in your own life where each of these 5 styles is appropriate!

The brilliance in understanding these styles and our own tendencies is be able to grow towards better use of ones that we tend to use less. Learn another language!!!

Homework Option #2 - If you’d like to take this simple questionnaire to learn more about your conflict style when calm and when the conflict escalates. Here is the link:

Adult Personal Conflict Style Inventory

Couples Workshop - We still have a few spaces left for our Saturday, August 31st Couples Workshop at The Cedars Ranch, Wimberley, TX. Our workshop is for couples, whether engaged, newlywed or those in long-term relationships, looking to build rewarding holistic intimacy and sustainable ongoing connection. Register today as spaces are limited!

Couples Workshop Registration

"I highly recommend this workshop. My partner and I definitely left with a strengthened bond." ~ Couples Workshop Attendee

Until next time!

Marilyn

The Luv Life Coach


Marilyn Orr, MA, CEC, PCC is a relationship coach with Luv Life Coaching, passionate about equipping couples with the tools for real and lasting intimacy. Learn how to listen better, handle conflict in productive ways and bring out the best in your partner. Contact Marilyn and grow your Luv Life skills today!

Marilyn is hosting her next Couples Workshop on Saturday, August 31 at The Cedars Ranch. To find out more and to register, click here: Couples Workshop at The Cedars Ranch

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