Lately, there has been an increased focus on knowing one’s personality type. I have heard conversations about the popular Enneagram test and peoples’ “numbers” and what they mean. I think this is great! The Enneagram and other popular personality tests offer their own unique insights to help us identify what makes us tick. In light of this phenomenon, I believe understanding our conflict management style can help us in this pursuit.
Are you able to identify your conflict management style? Are you an avoider, quick to compromise or perhaps one who seeks out confrontation? In this blog, let’s dive into why you should know your conflict management style!
1. It affects every aspect of our lives
Conflict arises in every aspect of our lives where relationships are involved. Whether it be at work, school, family, friends, or in marriage, you can be sure that you will encounter interpersonal conflict.
A common cause of conflict is the lack of communication or communicating the wrong thing.
Have you ever found yourself wondering if the person in front of you is really understanding what you’re trying to say?
This is often a case of hearing what one is saying, but interpreting it in a different way. I often find myself repeating or stating, “so what you’re saying is that…” in order to make sure that we are communicating effectively.
Another common cause of conflict is failed expectations.
I have heard it said that the gap between performance and expectation is frustration. This is what I expected, but this is what actually occurred, and it creates frustration. This is why having clear communication is important - it narrows the gap between these two variables.
2. Awareness can lead to improvement
Being aware of one’s conflict management style can help identify areas of improvement. Whether your conflict management style is Competing, Collaborating, Compromising, Assertive, or Avoiding, you can get better at managing conflict. There are great tools and assessments that can help identify your preferred method of conflict management style. I highly recommend the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) to discover and examine your use of the five conflict-handling modes!
Once you are aware of your style, pay close attention to how you address conflict when it arises and find areas of improvement. Great things can come as a result of managing conflict well.
3. It is biblical
There are several instances in the Bible where we are instructed to practice conflict management. Paul reminds us that, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Rom. 12:18, NIV) Most of us are also familiar with Matthew 5:23-24, "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First, go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” (NIV)
In both instances mentioned, it requires that we address and resolve conflict. However, many handle conflict incorrectly or they just avoid it at all costs, which ultimately causes even more conflict.
I encourage you to work on improving your approach to conflict management. The people around you will thank you for it and you will be happy you did! Healthy relationships are key to our life goals and the mission of making disciples.
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