When people work together, conflicts arise. We all react differently to situations like this. And while you probably have one style you tend to pick, how you react could depend largely on how the other party is treating you.

To be effective, it is good to know and detect the different styles. Secondly, the better you know how you react in situations of conflict and which style is your “natural” style, the easier you’ll be switching from one to another. Finally, if you’re able to detect how other people naturally react to conflict, you can quickly defuse a situation and pick the right strategy to move forward.

Let’s get to the strategies:

  • Avoiding. By avoiding, this person essentially pretends that something never happened or doesn’t exist. Examples are withdrawal, pretending there is nothing wrong, stonewalling or completely shutting down.
  • Giving in (flight). Basically, this means someone lets go of their point of view and gives in. It might be viewed as the other party getting their way. While this can look like making peace and moving forward, it can cause resentment for the party giving in, and distrust by the other party (why give in so easily?).
  • Standing ground (fight). This requires courage, but it can also be inconsiderate, as most fighters are no great listeners. The chance is pretty big that this it not a long-term strategy that will pay off. If you come across a fighter: the best thing you can do it try to understand before being understood. For most fighters, being listened to opens up space for you to explain your point of view.
  • Compromise. This is a big step forward towards a resolution, but a compromise is also sometimes seen as lose-lose, because both of you give in. Courage and consideration are required to reach a compromise both parties agree upon.
  • Collaborating (reaching a consensus). Most sources view a consensus as one of the best places to be after a conflict. In a successful collaboration, both parties listen and consider each others point of view. Together, they build a solution which is better than they both envisioned before. This requires lots of patience and courage, because both parties need to put their thoughts and reservations aside to start looking for a solution together.