Five Common Responses to Conflict

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In my work with clients of all kinds, I have noticed five basic types of response to conflict. I see people who are…

Conflict Rock Stars

Conflict Rock Stars are almost always in control of their responses. They know how to communicate calmly and assertively in nearly every situation. Their response seems easy and effortless to the outside observer.

Conflict Confident

People who are Conflict Confident demonstrate appropriate responses to most conflicts. They respond in ways that lead to resolution rather than to escalation. Even though they might feel some unease or discomfort in conflict,  they engage confidently and lead towards resolution.

Conflict Quesy

The Conflict Quesy person either gets a knot in their stomach or a little flash of anger that causes them to be a little too passive or a little too aggressive. In fact, they might switch between to0 aggressive, too passive and confident responses in the same encounter. In general, they do pretty well in conflict, and they respond in ways that feel like they will lead to resolution. However, they are often confused and frustrated when their responses unintentionally escalate conflicts.

Conflict Chickens

Conflict Chickens run from conflict almost every time. They avoid confrontation and conflict to the point that they fail to engage even when needed to resolve the situation. Their failure to engage often leads to escalation rather than deescalation because the issues causing the conflict remain unresolved.

Conflict Coercers

Conflict Coercers are on the other end of the spectrum from Conflict Chickens. They often dive in to conflict and push for resolution in a way that inflames rather than calms the situation. They sometimes think they have resolved a conflict when they drive a Conflict Chicken to silence or out of the conversation.

I did not derive these categories from a sophisticated and comprehensive statistical analysis. So please, don’t over read them. They are simply built on my observations from working and talking with lots of people about their responses and approaches to conflict and then observing how the conflicts develop and end.

It seems that most people are in the Conflict Quesy category. There are also a pretty significant number of Conflict Chickens and Conflict Coercers. There are fewer Conflict Confident people, and fewer still Conflict Rock Stars.

The good news is that no matter where you start, you can become Conflict Confident. With enough study and practice, you could even become a Conflict Rock Star. The growth in your conflict resolution skills begins when you learn to accurately diagnose and read conflict situations and how to respond appropriately — confidently — to the conflict.

Conflict Confidence is a learned skill. It is not a natural talent.

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