Join Craig Runde for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding and improving your conflict responses, part of Improving Your Conflict Competence.
- What you get out of conflict is directly related to how you behave, so it helps to understand your conflict responses. To do this, first reflect on your own responses to conflict. Second, get feedback from others about how you deal with conflict. And third, use assessment instruments to get a clearer understanding. Let's take a look at all three steps. Your journey towards conflict competence begins by better understanding yourself. We've already talked about the importance of recognizing your attitudes about conflict.
The first section of this video looks at reflecting on your conflict responses. To do this, it's helpful to think back to recent conflicts you've experienced. Since conflict is inevitable, this shouldn't be too hard. It can be large or small conflicts. We often focus on the actions of the other person in conflict. In this case, we reverse things. It's important to focus on your own actions. The key is to recognize what types of behavior you tend to use when faced with conflict.
This isn't the time to critique those behaviors. Rather, we just want to be aware of them. When a conflict begins, what do you say and do at that point? As the conflict heats up, do you continue to use the same behaviors, or does your approach change? Do you behave differently with different types of people? Take time to record your observations in the exercise files that accompany this course. After you have listed your thoughts, go back and ask yourself, which types of behaviors have worked well for you, and which ones have not been as successful? A second step is to get feedback from other people.
If you have friends or colleagues that you trust, ask them if they would be willing to talk to you about how they see you behaving when dealing with conflict. An outside perspective can be very helpful, because it can be challenging to notice how we behave when we're in the midst of a stressful interaction. We may come across differently than we intend to in those situations. A third approach for improving your self-awareness is the use of assessment instruments. These involve you answering a set of questions about how you approach conflict.
You then receive reports that give you insight into your responses. Some assessments focus on your general style of managing conflict. For example, do you avoid conflict? Give in to others? Try to get your way? Or work together with the other person? Depending on the situation, your style may be right for the conflict in question, or you may need to adopt a different style. Other instruments focus on conflict behaviors. I find these to be more helpful, because it's easier to understand and modify behaviors.
They help you see what kinds of behavior patterns you use to address conflict. This enables you to see what types of constructive and destructive behaviors you currently use. You're then able to determine which behaviors are serving you well and which ones would be good to change. Regardless of how you do it, understanding your current approach towards conflict will help you recognize areas of strength you can leverage, as well as areas you could improve in order to enhance your ability to manage conflict.