I recently participated in The Friendly Style Profile (Gilmore & Frarleigh, 2004). My personal style of responding to conflict seems to be primarily based in the Analyzing/Preserving and Affiliating/Perfecting categories. Here are my scores:
- Accommodating/Harmonizing – Calm at 22 and Storm at 25
- Analyzing/Preserving – Calm at 28 and Storm at 27
- Achieving/Directing – Calm at 24 and Storm at 21
- Affiliating/Perfecting – Calm at 26 and Storm at 27
I. THE CATEGORIES OF CONFLICT I FALL INTO
Deducing which of these categories I fit into during conflict is difficult because I find a little bit of myself in all of them. As Dr Dunn stated, “The odds are that you will probably see a part of yourself in most of these qualities.”[ref]Larry Dunn, Ph.D., “Personal Styles in Conflict” (lecture, Fresno Pacific University-North Center Campus, Fresno, CA, December 15, 2011).[/ref] I think my scores being evenly distributed is a relevant and true reflection on me. Who is involved in the conflict and where the conflict is at determine how I respond to the conflict. Since I am a calm and easy going person who is very relaxed it makes it hard for people to know how I might respond in a conflict situation. (At times, I am even surprised in how I respond.)
When it comes to conflict I think I am able to engage each category a little bit, even though I am primarily an Analyzer/Preserver and Affiliator/Perfector. Between these two categories, I believe I am the most like the Analyzing/Preserving person. This understanding of myself helps me effectively manage conflict. This past week Dr. Dunn taught us, “The more we understand ourselves, the more we can manage ourselves.”[ref]Ibid.[/ref] Later in this post I will share more reasons of why I believe that to be true.
I definitely agree with my results showing that I have the same conflict styles in Analyzing/Preserving and Affiliating/Perfecting categories when in “calm” and “storm” conflict situations. I have noticed that I am very level headed no matter what happens good or bad. Whether I am meeting with a person one to one or I am leading 75 volunteers at a food drive, people observe that I am always calm, cool, collected, and that I am always under control. So I definitely agree that I have the same conflict style when I am navigating a calm or storm conflict. However, I slightly disagree with some of my results in the Friendly Style Profile because I feel many of the qualities in other categories also apply to me. Perhaps this is because I have scores that are close together in each of the four categories.
II. PATTERNS I HAVE IN RESPONDING TO CONFLICT
A. To Withdraw
One of the patterns that I notice in how I respond to conflict is to withdraw. As an Analyzing/Preserving person, I naturally do not think very well on my feet, and often I need time to think through and process information. This means that when someone brings a confrontation to me that has new information, my natural response is to withdraw. I think that another reason I respond to conflict in this way is because I am a very introverted man who naturally tends to go inward when new information is presented to me.
B. To Get Nervous
Another pattern I have in conflict is that I tend to get nervous to the point that other people notice it. Once when I was reporting to our Human Resources (HR) Manager at work about a conflict that I was just engaged in, I felt nervous but I did not realize that I looked nervous. While trying to tell her about the conflict, the HR Manager’s first response to me was, “That [what was said] really bothers you, doesn’t it?” implying that the HR Manager could clearly see that I was nervous about having to confront the other person about the conflict. This nervousness in conflict is displayed in two ways: 1) Before I am about to confront someone in conflict; and 2) When I am confronting the person or telling someone else about the confrontation they notice my nervousness.
III. MY STRENGTHS IN CONFLICT
There are several strengths that I have in conflict as an Analyzing/Preserving and Affiliating/Perfecting person.
A. Letting Go of Feelings
One strength is that I am willing to forego the expression of personal feelings to facilitate the forward movement of a project.[ref]Susan Gilmore and Patrick Fraleigh, the Friendly Style Profile: a guide through calm and storm (Eugene, OR: Friendly Press, 2004), 22.[/ref] This means that I do my best to look at the success of our organization at United Way or a project first even if it means I need to bite my tongue and not speak my mind.
B. Not Confronting Others Harshly
Another strength is that I rarely confront others abruptly or harshly.[ref]Ibid., 22[/ref] This does not mean I do not confront others, because I do. (Actually, I just confronted someone last Friday after they cussed towards me.) It simply means that I do not confront them without first thinking about what I want to say. When I do confront someone, I do it in a calm, controlled way without lots of emotion. This allows conversation to take place and for the other person in conflict to not feel attacked.
IV. MY WEAKNESSES IN CONFLICT
Like most things in life, the strengths that I have in conflict as an Analyzing/Preserving person can also become weaknesses if they become excessive. The main excess I experience is becoming overwhelmed by others’ emotions. When I get into emotional situations I often feel paralyzed not knowing what to say or do. Another excess I have is struggling with others’ pressure for me to speed up. Whether it is something I need to get done quickly at work, to make a quick decision, or someone pressuring me to play faster on the golf course, I struggle dealing with the pressure to speed up.
V. HOW OTHERS PERCEIVE ME IN CONFLICT
Thus far I have shared how I perceive myself in conflict, but how do others perceive me in conflict?
Others, I think, experience me as someone they can have constructive conflict with because I do not react to conflict abruptly or harshly (as I described earlier). This allows people to more easily engage in conflict because they know conflict with me is a safe place. They know they are not going to be attacked, torn down, or criticized. I also think some people might suspect they can overpower me verbally and emotionally because I need time to process information and think through what I want to say. However, later in a conflict people will learn that I have standards and values that are non-negotiable. If the conflict touches on those, then the other person quickly learns I cannot be overpowered like they might have thought at first.
VI. AREAS FOR GROWTH IN CONFLICT FOR ME
There definitely are some areas for growth and change that I can make in the way I have conflict.
One of the goals for growth that I have is to respond more decisively and quickly to defend myself when someone criticizes me or makes a statement that I disagree with. Earlier I shared with you that I have a tendency to withdraw in conflict, especially when I am presented with information that is new to me. I think I can have more productive conflicts if I am more assertive to tell the person that I disagree with him (once I have listened and heard him out) in a strong and assertive way. Even if I need time to think through what they have shared, I need to clearly state that I need more time to think instead of giving them an impression that I agree with them.
B. No Absorb Difficulties
Another goal for growth and change in my conflict style is to no longer adopt the characteristic of the Accommodating/Harmonizing style which can “adjust to and absorb differences and difficulties.”[ref]Ibid., 10[/ref] When in the heart of conflict I have a tendency to shrink back from my position. When talking I have a tendency to say, “It’s ok,” or “You are right,” as I hear what they say and how it differs from my own view. A goal for my own growth is to learn to take a firm stand for what I believe in and not back down.