Conflicts Have Styles

When it comes to conflict, my habitual response is “let’s solve it”. Over years, I learned to jump into problem solving mentality (ah, thanks to startups!). But this week, I noticed how in deep conflicts I hide or run away instead. Oh and here, it was my body speaking! Not the mind. That’s how it felt attending a conflict facilitation workshop by Baltic Applied Theatre School, where we got to physically experience (through a role-play) how differently people feel at a conflicting situation, and where “let’s do it” mentality won’t bring the conflict resolution.

“Finding the Solution doesn’t equal Resolving the Conflict” ~ BATS

Conflict Styles

We looked at the Conflict Styles model by Diana Musho Hamilton:

  • Avoiding: disappears in the situation
  • Confronting: pushes back
  • Accomodating: sacrifies their needs
  • Hybrid Passive Aggressive: waits for the first move from others

When we played conflicting situations with masks, voilà, we sensed how differently we respond to conflict. Especially, when we had to role-play a least used conflict style. Ouch!

At the turbulent moment, some participants felt a need to move the body to get some fresh air into the boiler room, some were silently coping and waiting for the first move from others, while others were in the fight mode of “getting it done and fixing it”. After seeing how different we are we noticed that we need different things in the same situation first, before we move into problem solving mode…

How to turn the Conflict into constructive Action?

The idea here is how to embrace the conflict instead of fighting it or ignoring it. My take-away was that embracing the conflict starts with the awareness of the needs. If as a group or even individuals experiencing an inner conflict we take space to inquire about our needs, partial resolution of the conflict is there.

After the workshop I left with more empathy questioning ‘Why people are in that style?’ and ‘What do people need in their conflict style?’ and ‘Which conflict style is worth the time in a given situation?’

As I realise that we’re always in a spectrum of conflict styles, it’s interesting to reflect about mine and people’s needs. When things get tense, some may need time and space, some prefer to talk, while some need to move the body first until a space for finding solution together can happen.

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