Are these absolutely all the ways couples experience conflict? Of course not! And rather than being confined to one of these boxes, most people will be a complex mix of less extreme versions of these types. But exploring these major conflict personalities can help you see yourself and your partner more clearly. Eventually this understanding can help you turn destructive arguments into productive disagreements.
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Do you see most problems as big or small? Do you tend to make mountains out of molehills, or molehills out of mountains? When you fight, how do you express your anger? Are you fiery or do you play your emotional cards close? When your partner is angry with you, is it generally about something that is your fault or about something your partner has done? How willing are you to adjust your behaviors and beliefs to accommodate your partner?
If your natural way of being creates relationship conflict, are you willing to change? Denier: Do you deny the existence of problems your partner sees? Maybe you even try to convince your partner he or she is imagining the problem, exaggerating it, or just plain nuts! And so even little disagreements can make you emotionally escalated.
When your body is escalated it is hard to focus cognitively on ways to solve the problem or to self-soothe. Solution: The denier and the catastrophizer both avoid the real problem — one makes it too little and the other makes it too big.
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Diffusing these extremes means finding the middle. If you or your partner is a denier, work to acknowledge the reality of problems. Together you can work as a balanced team to find solutions. Fixer: Many women will identify with this category, though of course men can belong to this type as well.
Resolving family conflict
The urge to be a fixer can come from the feeling of being out of control — you want to grasp at solutions in order not to feel powerless. Your tendency may be to fix your partner without turning an appraising eye on your own contributions to relationship problems. Quitter: Quitters tend to lack follow-through and are quick to give up on projects, problems or relationships. We all have some areas in which follow-through is difficult! But giving up on assembling a piece of IKEA furniture is not the same thing as quitting on a marriage.
Solution: Try to focus on the fears that underlie the tendency to fix or quit. Or ask yourself what fears and frustrations make problems seem unmanageable to the point of quitting. Stoic: When confronted with problems, stoics keep a stiff upper lip.
The protection may be so entrenched that stoics are unable to directly access their feelings at all. Sometimes solutions take heart, too. Rage-a-Holic: A Rage-a-Holic uses anger as manipulation, in the attempt to scare or intimidate their partner into doing what they want.
This can include criticism, taunting, and shaming. It puts the focus on solving a joint problem that can be solved together. It also helps to focus on spelling out the positive outcomes that you can both achieve by solving the current problem while really emphasizing the specific concerns you think the other person has Thomas The concerns in a conflict are what each person cares about and is inherently threatened by the conflict.
Positions are the actions you propose to settle the specific conflict. If you jump to positions prematurely it can lead to a win-lose scenario based on disagreements over different positions where only one individual can win. This, in turn, is much more likely to lead to a collaborative resolution Thomas Progressing to a position where both parties see the conflict as a mutual problem you can focus on brainstorming solutions that would satisfy both of your concerns.
This does require that both parties remain flexible during the process while knowing when to be firm on about the most important concerns you both have. Once you have identified numerous solutions that could work for both parties it should be much easier to finally agree on the best solution for the issue at hand. Once all of these aspects are addressed it will be much easier to brainstorm proper solutions and then move to picking the one that will result in the best overall outcome for both parties Thomas Thomas notates the following benefits and costs of utilizing the Compromising conflict-handling mode.
Compromising solutions are often not the first go-to solution when dealing with conflict, but there are times that they are the most efficient and practical solutions to a problem.
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However, it is important to remember that compromising does require for both parties to partially sacrifice parts of their concerns. There are certain conflicts that involve concerns so vital that even a partial sacrifice is not an option and during those situations compromising will simply not be an option.
Such options are best left for the collaborating or competing conflict-handling modes. Compromising is best suited for issues that are of intermediate importance to you; important enough to matter, yet not critical. When choosing to utilize the compromising mode you should make sure that you both take turns bearing small costs. If either individual starts to provide numerous favors in a row it can lead to resentment and even disdain. Compromising is utilized in many cases when a collaborating or competing method is simply not a practical choice. There are a few scenarios where this may come up.
Sometimes the compromising conflict handling mode is utilized when a temporary solution to a more complex issue is required. There may be a better time to come up with a permanent solution using a different mode, but for the time being the compromising solution allows for work to continue.
This mode is also used when two individuals with equal power are faced with a win-lose issue where collaboration is not working and the competing mode is unlikely to be effective. In other cases, one or both of the individuals realize that more assertive modes would harm a relationship and compromising can help avoid this harm Thomas While working on becoming more efficient at using the compromising conflict mode you can benefit from developing specific behavioral skills. One of the hardest behavior skills to develop properly is to transition smoothly from a competing mode to a compromising mode where you make partial concessions without giving away too much.
Giving away too much may give the inadvertent side effect of looking weak. This is especially a problem if you begin to compromise while the other person is still competing. Once both parties are committed to compromising it is also important that your partial concessions are reciprocated.
You may need to discuss a few different partial concession options before one can be agreed upon Thomas The second, and equality important aspect of compromising is being able to focus on fairness during the concession-making process. It is also highly beneficial to remain as objective as possible by utilizing neutral sources when collecting information. If this is handled properly then often times the application of the criterion that was agreed upon in advance will go much more smoothly, therefore helping you get the most out of the Compromising conflict handling mode Thomas Thomas notates the following benefits and costs of utilizing the Avoiding conflict-handling mode.
This may sound like a universally negative mode, but it is important to note that there are certain situations where the Avoiding mode can be the right decision.
In general, it is best not to avoid other people. In social situations avoiding individuals can be done more easily but when dealing with business and family situations using the Avoiding conflict handling mode can bring along with it much larger consequences. In a professional environment there is an expectation of building and maintaining relationships and also putting up with certain irritations in order to accomplish your work tasks. With that being said, there are cases where the cost of interacting with certain individuals is too high and avoiding becomes necessary for your own welfare Thomas Emotional conflicts create defensiveness and hard feelings by personalizing the conflict.
In order to avoid these forms of conflict you can start by avoiding issues of blame.
Controlling your anger is also very important as we tend to be righteous when angered and tend to overgeneralize or try to hurt or push the other person Thomas Another appropriate use of the Avoiding mode comes up when little can be gained from a conflict. Examples of this are issues that are simply unimportant, are issues that others can handle, or issues that are symptoms of other issues.
Another way of utilizing the Avoiding conflict mode is to postpone an issues temporarily in a strategic manner. Sometimes the most obvious time to use the Avoiding mode is when you need to find more time to handle a situation. If you are in the middle of a more important issue, then the right course of action is often to postpone dealing with the new issue.
When dealing with complex or sensitive issues it is also a viable strategy to take a break in order to refocus so that you remain both mentally alert as well as emotionally centered when it is most needed Thomas Certain behavioral skills can be developed when improving the efficiency of the Avoiding Conflict handling mode. Using the Avoiding conflict handling mode can come off as evasive when the reasoning for your choice to avoid a situation is not made clear. In order to minimize the negative impact avoiding may cause it can be helpful to actively communicate the reason you are avoiding an issue and when you postpone a confrontation it can help to set a time for when the issue may be realistically addressed Thomas Another important behavioral skill you can develop when dealing with the Avoiding mode is learning to decide what is important and what is not.
It may sound like a simple concept but deciphering what is truly worth your limited time and energy can be tricky. For starters you will want to be clear about your goals heading into a meeting.