It’s a fairly normal expectation when working any job that, at some point, you will have a conflict or a disagreement with a coworker. Even though conflicts are a common problem, not everyone has the tools necessary to deal with such issues mindfully. Unfortunately, it’s common to deal with disagreement by becoming somewhat manipulative or aggressive, or in many instances, simply choosing not to voice your own opinion to avoid arguing.
There are several different types of conflict styles, not everyone approaches arguments in the same way. While it is recommended to deal with conflict in a productive manner, often the way we see our coworkers or whether or not we value the relationship has a direct impact on how we approach conflict. Learning what your conflict style is and the best ways to resolve arguments with others is a very valuable skill to have.
If you notice that you have a very assertive but also a quite uncooperative argument style you’re probably a competitor. It’s common for people who associate with a competitive conflict style to find themselves one-upping their colleagues or claiming other people’s ideas as their own as a means of getting ahead.
Often, competitors have somewhat of a disregard for personal relationships during a conflict. Competitors will often see it as a competition; themselves versus their co-workers. There can be an advantage to a competitive conflict style in its assertiveness, however, the aggressive aspects of a competitive conflict style can alienate coworkers and upset people. Competitors also often exhibit difficulties negotiating.
As the name suggests, those who identify with a collaborative conflict style ultimately aim to find a consensus. There is a common belief that a collaborative conflict style is best, as it helps to take in everyone’s ideas and perspectives. However, collaborators can actually be surprisingly manipulative, as they often want to feel as though they will come out on top and to do so may not be entirely transparent. Another issue with a collaborative conflict style is, often, collaborators find themselves breaking trust by making promises they cannot keep, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
The issue with an accommodating conflict style is that these individuals are all too often willing to minimize what they actually want and need to resolve a conflict. It’s common for an accommodator’s colleagues to feel very supported, even during an argument. But accommodators can also be overly obliging and often viewed as being a pushover. This is because the primary aspect of an accommodative conflict style includes yielding to others, whether or not it benefits you.
If you notice that you have an accommodating conflict style, it’s important to try asserting your opinion more often. Speak up if something doesn’t work for you
The primary aspect of a deal-making conflict style resides in a dealmakers ability to bargain to achieve results. A dealmaker will usually focus less on emphasizing what is actually possible and more on the transactions used to get through a conflict. Dealmakers are closely associated with compromisers, primarily due to the bargaining nature which is often seen as a form of compromisation.
The primary issue with a dealmaker’s conflict style is that it often focuses on dishonesty to come to a conflict resolution. If you find yourself dealing with a dealmaker, always read between the lines and check the fine print, as you may notice bargaining chips or promises offered that cannot be followed through on.
THE SUPERIOR INVOLVER
Those who exhibit this conflict style likely won’t address problems directly with coworkers. Instead, these individuals will tend to go to a person of power, such as a boss or manager, to solve an argument. Superior involvers see going to a superior as a way of exhibiting power or urgency. This usually comes from a place of thinking that they need to solve an issue as fast as possible, and going directly to management is the right way to do so.
Unfortunately, those who exhibit this argument style are usually seen as untrustworthy by colleagues. Furthermore, this conflict style is paramount to a toxic office environment.
This conflict style is associated with those who simply let arguments go or do not engage in any conflict to start with. They are avoidant of arguments and in some situations, this attitude can be beneficial. However, it is also detrimental to the individual who exhibits this conflict style, as their input simply isn’t heard.
Argument avoiders are not assertive enough and therefore can lose valuable traction within the workplace. If you end up in an argument with someone who simply is not engaging, it can be helpful to ask questions about that individual to get them involved. However, don’t be pushy and force them to argue, as this is not beneficial to anybody.
THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE
As the title suggests, these individuals are likely to argue against any point you’re making. They’re playing the devil’s advocate, and this conflict style typically involves multiple uses of hypothetical situations and “what if” statements. While these can sometimes be helpful, they can also waste time as well as irritate co-workers.
Sometimes, this conflict style leads to arguments going around in circles and no solution ever coming about. The best way to deal with a devil’s advocate is to ask them questions about the root of the problem and then give them enough space to reflect on the issues that they haven’t yet articulated.
There isn’t one singular approach to conflict that’s considered to be right or superior. Most people have a distinctive conflict style, but all too often, the way in which you approach conflict may become problematic in the workplace. Although there isn’t a conflict style that’s better than any of the others, it can be helpful to understand what type of conflict style you and your coworkers have in order to learn the best ways to approach arguments.