Understanding Your Approach to Conflict

  Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down Conflict Image

People make critical decisions and choices during conflict. Taking responsibility means acknowledging how you may have contributed through actions, words and behaviors.

The Conflict Dynamics Profile® is an instrument that provides people with a honest appraisal of constructive and destructive behaviors, as well as, conflict hot buttons. The CDP® has been developed based on the concept of conflict as “dynamic” – with a beginning, middle and end – an active process.

Some behaviors heighten the process and cause it to escalate and erupt; other behaviors can interrupt the process, reduce the conflict and transform it into a problem-solving mode.

Conflict that focuses on ideas rather than on personalities and shortcomings can result in creativity and improved relationships. This type of conflict is called “constructive” since it is approached in ways that reduce tension and move the conflict in a positive direction.

There are two types of constructive responses – Active and Passive.

Constructive Active responses happen when some effort is made on one of the individual’s part to address the conflict. Behaviors include: Perspective Taking, Creating Solutions, Expressing Emotions and Reaching Out.

Constructive Passive responses occur when actions such as Reflective Thinking, Delay Responding and Adapting take place. These actions help to de-escalate the conflict.

In Resolving Conflict at Work – Eight Strategies for Everyone on the Job, by Kenneth Cloke and Joan Goldsmith, the authors suggest a system of separations to keep conflict on a constructive path. The separations allow for people to see the conflict more clearly and transform it in positive ways.

  • Separate positions from interests
  • Separate people from problems
  • Separate problems from solutions
  • Separate commonalities from differences
  • Separate the future from the past
  • Separate emotion from negotiation
  • Separate options from choices
  • Separate criteria from selection

Destructive responses tend to make the conflict worse by fanning the flames and focusing on personalities. Behaviors for Active-Destructive responses include: Winning at all Costs, Displaying Anger, Demeaning Others and Retaliating.

Behavioral responses that enable the conflict to continue or be resolved unsatisfactorily are called Passive-Destructive. These responses include: Avoiding, Yielding (giving up), Hiding Emotions and Self-Criticizing.

The CDP® gives people a realistic read of the way they typically respond in conflict and ways to improve those problematic areas.

Certain situations and types of people can be Hot Buttons for provoking us in conflict. Hot Buttons are those areas you find to be especially annoying, frustrating or upsetting. When pushed, they may cause you to start or escalate a conflict.

The hottest Hot Buttons are the ones that evoke a quick and automatic set of destructive responses. The CDP® identifies nine Hot Buttons: Abrasive, Aloof, Hostile, Micro Managing, Overly Analytical, Self-Centered, Unappreciative, Unreliable and Untrustworthy.

Understanding conflict is often a very complicated process that requires commitment, motivation, perseverance and patience. Many of our behaviors, perceptions, and emotions have been with us since our childhood.

Changing how one views and responds to conflict is challenging and difficult. However, the benefit to understanding how we react can impact our personal and work relationships, personal and organizational goals, and ultimately our happiness.

“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.”

William James (American Philosopher and Psychologist, leader of the philosophical movement of Pragmatism, 1842-1910)