We’ve all been in situations where our goals and needs have come into conflict with someone else, and we’ve all felt the often-intense personal animosity that can result. However, the way we handle conflict with a colleague at work may be very different than with a friend or spouse. Our response will be dictated by how important the issue is, and how much energy we put into it.
The more we run from conflict, the more it masters us. The more we try to avoid it, the more it controls us. The less we fear conflict, the less it confuses us. The less we deny our differences, the less they divide us. – David Augsburger
Out of habit, most of us rely on one or two approaches to handling conflict because of the way we were raised, our job responsibilities, past experiences, or even cultural norms. And, because we are more comfortable with some modes more than others, it is easy to overuse or underuse them and as a result create unintended consequences.
In order to expand our conflicting handling options, we need to improve our awareness, refine our existing conflict handling skills and even develop new ones.
This is the third of five posts that aims to increase your understanding of the following conflicting handling styles.
Compromising is characterized as a moderate assertiveness and moderate cooperativeness mode. When a person chooses this approach to manage conflict, they are interested in finding middle ground or forgoing some of their own concerns to ensure the other person’s concerns are met. People who relate to True Colors Primary Orange-Green may relate to this mode.
While this approach may seem like ‘settling’ for less than you deserve, there are certain situations in which its use is completely appropriate. For example when:
- the issue isn’t important enough to warrant the time or energy you might use in competing or collaborating
- there’s shared passion and commitment to opposing views
- you need to ‘band-aid’ a complex problem in order to buy the time needed to find the best course of action.
- you need a quick solution that at least somewhat satisfies both parties
- it looks like the only way to resolve an issue
To be effective in your use of Compromising in a conflict situation, you’ll have to hone your skills and become very comfortable
- communicating in a way that keeps all parties at the table
- finding an answer that is fair to everyone involved – give and take
- giving up some of what you want to make things work
- respecting and placing value on all aspects of the issue so that you can bargain fairly.
Overusing the Compromising Mode
For some of us the Compromising mode is our ‘go to’ response when faced with difficult situations. But, if overused, it may:
- cause you to sacrifice long terms goals for a quick fix
- cause others to lose their trust in you because it seems as though ‘everything is negotiable’ – you are seen as being without values or principles
- inadvertently create an ‘anything for a price’ environment
Underusing the Compromising Mode
People who are uncomfortable bargaining, saying what they want or fear being taken advantage of, may underuse the Compromising mode. When underused, it may cause:
- small issues to get blown out of proportion more readily
- people to find you unreasonable or inflexible, which makes backing away gracefully from disagreement harder than it needs to be
- negotiating to be difficult because you lack the skills necessary to get the best deal possible.
From a True Colors perspective, high functioning teams are made up of Gold, Blue Green and Orange personality types. To work successfully with these types, it is critical that team leaders and team members understand how to effectively manage conflict. There are those who subscribe to the notion that the only way to deal with conflict is to prevent it, and others who believe that conflict is unavoidable and in fact can help people grow. Regardless of philosophy successful teams will, at some point, be confronted with conflict within the group.
Conflicts are part of individual relationships and organizational development, and no relationship or organization can hope to mature to productivity and be successful without being able to resolve conflicts effectively” (Cottringer, 1997).
Learn more about our True Colors and Conflict Management Workshops here
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Gillian Andries, is a Life & Career Coach and a certified True Colors facilitator
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