Learn how to understand conflict styles: finding the elephants to avoid stalemate and impasse, speaking up in uncomfortable situations, addressing risky issues, defusing conflict in the moment, and using intuition, gut, and body language signals to uncove
- Asking for something you want can stir up some fear and anxiety. What if your request is rejected or triggers an argument? Or what if you're told your ideas are unreasonable or impossible? What if your conversation partner thinks you're greedy and self-serving? Now, these fears are understandable, but to get ahead of them, I want to take a look at the social psychology of conflict, so you can really see what's operating. The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Model illustrates how people typically behave when faced with possible or actual rejection.
So, let's say you want to ask for a raise and promotion. You've been taking on more projects and responsibilities and contributing value way beyond your job description and original expectations. In the avoid quadrant of the model, simply put, you don't ask. You let the opportunity pass, because the fear of rejection is so high you can't bring yourself to do it, so you lose and, in truth, your boss or your team loses out, too, because your value is going unrecognized.
In the accommodate quadrant of the model, you find the will to ask, but when you're met with questions or pushback, you fold. You say that's okay, I just thought I'd ask. In this scenario, you lose and they win. In the compete quadrant of the model, you definitely ask. You anchor, you frame, and you make your case, and when your boss starts to waffle or says no, you double down and defend your request, and you might just add a little threat to get your boss to see things your way.
Now, this is what I call taking all the toys approach. You're set on getting what you want without regard for your conversation partner's interests. You might win the battle, but your relationship will suffer the consequences. In the collaborative quadrant, you anchor, you frame, you ask open ended questions, and you focus on brainstorming to find a solution that works for both of you, the classic win-win. Now, it looks like the goal of this model is compromise.
You ask for what you want, and over the course of the negotiation, you give up a point or two and your boss gives up a point or two, so you win and lose and your boss wins and loses. Now, in my opinion, the model should be altered so that collaborate is in the center. To enter the negotiation with a mindset that you're going to ask to be valued for your contributions and you're going to explore possibilities and options until you're both happy with the outcome.
You might, in fact, trade things of value and make concessions, but the overall outcome and feeling of the negotiation is that you've done your best and been well met. You've preserved your relationship and probably deepened it. Now, the purpose of exploring this model is for you to locate your default style, and from there, it's a matter of practice. Practice choosing to collaborate, and practice your new skills, asking diagnostic questions, labeling, mirroring, and brainstorming.
Over time, you'll notice you're having problem solving, value creating conversations, not just some days, but every single day.
- Identify the different types of negotiation.
- Distinguish the difference between asking and negotiation.
- List core negotiation practices.
- Explain anchoring and framing for mutual benefit.
- Describe tactical empathy.
- Explain the principles of influence.
- Create an influence plan.
- Analyze conflict styles.
- Recognize contentious negotiation tactics.