Can a turtle safely co-exist with a shark? What about a fox with a teddy bear? I say “Absolutely!” If they are aware of their own go-to conflict style, have a decent understanding of those around them, and realize they have options.  When it comes to conflict style, we all have dominate traits, but we also all have traces of alternative styles within us. A shark doesn’t always have to be aggressive and terrifying, and a turtle needn’t spend its whole life hiding in its shell. What comes out during stress and conflict depends first on our auto-responder, and second on our awareness.

There are a few key identifiers for go-to conflict styles, and different catchy labels are used to help us remember “what we are”.  We like to use the Fox, Owl, Shark, Teddy Bear and Turtle.  Each is pretty straight-forward, easily associated with common characteristics, and could be the “best’ choice – depending on the situation.

For example, if things are moving fast and decisions need to be made, a Shark will cut straight through the murky water and tell us what to do, now!  However, during a discussion wherein different perspectives need to be heard in order to make the best decision, I’d want to kick that same Shark out of the room, for talking over people and being too head-strong to hear important information.

Which one of these conflict styles resonates most with you?

  • Fox: Compromising nature. Cunning and alert. “Fair” but perhaps not ideal solutions; 50/50 split.
  • Owl: Collaborating nature. Seeks all perspectives. Creates win/win/win resolutions, but time consuming.
  • Shark: Competing nature. Aggressive, focused, and determined. Creates win/lose resolutions.
  • Teddy Bear: Accommodating nature. Rapport maintained, but own goals often ignored.
  • Turtle: Avoiding nature. Hopes if conflict is ignored it will simply go away.

It’s always fun to gain more insight into ourselves, right? It’s also good to know we have a bit of each style within us and, if we pay attention, we get to choose the one that will be most effective at any given time.  For me though, it is understanding YOUR go-to conflict style that makes me tick.  You see, if we lock horns and I understand your conflict style, I can adjust mine. If my “go-to” is unlikely to be beneficial or help create a great solution, my “Fox” can shift and be much more “Owl”. Cool, huh?

We don’t have to be one-dimensional. We are not forever locked into one label or style. We have choices!

One important closing thought: No one conflict style is right or wrong, better or worse.  The best style depends on the circumstance you are in.  Sometimes having a “Shark” take control is necessary; other times being a “Turtle” is smart (not everything requires a discussion or problem solving session… some things do become much less important, or even go away, when ignored for a little while).

Need more information on understanding your conflict style, effectively working with different styles, and successfully managing conflict? Call or email us today for a free consultation!

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