Conflict at home, school, or work is inevitable. How do you handle it?
There are five general conflict styles: competing, collaborating, avoiding, accommodating, and compromising. These styles are based on two continuums: how assertive and how cooperative we are. Here’s a graphic that illustrates the basics of each style.
- The Five Conflict Styles provide a helpful reference point for how you personally tend towards conflict. The U.S. Institute for Peace has a great assessment tool that will breakdown your natural tendency towards each style.
- We all have the capacity for some of each style, and we can build up others as necessary, especially as we get more familiar with each one.
- Know which style is appropriate for the context. Engaging conflict is not a one-size-fits all approach. What matters is having a command of each style and being able to move fluidly between them as the situation requires.
Whether it’s our most intimate relationships with family and friends, or the wider net of neighbors, colleagues, and community at large, conflict is natural — and, at times, even necessary to make a difficult situation better and to strengthen and sustain the relationships that matter most.
Knowing which conflict style you tend towards can help you understand the choices you have made in the past when engaging conflict and how you may want to approach it differently the future — of course, depending on how much time you have, the nature of the relationship, and what issues are at stake. Knowing also that there is a time and a place for each style, and that each has its benefits and limitations, can help you navigate the rough terrain of conflict in a way that keeps you and others whole and opens up opportunities for personal and relational growth.
Conflict resolution refers to the processes required to achieve a peaceful end to a conflict.
There are several paths to conflict resolution, these include: focusing on the underlying reasons for the conflict, stating one’s needs effectively and clearly, attempting to de-escalate the conflict and listening effectively.
Of these points identified, the main one to examine is the method of listening effectively. This method can be enhanced to produce one of the most productive approaches to conflict resolution known as Mindful Listening.
Mindful Listening is the process by which an individual allows themselves to listen to others without interrupting, forming any judgement or distracting themselves from the listening experience in any way.
This method of conflict resolution is particularly effective because without the internal stimuli of our own thoughts and judgements, it allows us to more accurately identify the factors contributing to a period of conflict.
Mindful Listening may also help couples to not only de-escalate the high tensions inherent to the conflict but even resolve the conflict as a whole.
To accomplish Mindful Listening, one must attempt to first clear the mind of anything but a compassionate approach to the situation, in some cases, this can be achieved through meditation.