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responding to conflict

People respond differently to different conflict situations. Not only that but the same person can respond differently to each conflict situation he/she is faced with depending on the type of conflict, where the conflict is happening, the type of person whom he/she has the conflict with and whether it is a workplace conflict or a personal conflict with a family member or loved one. Following we will go through the different ways people respond when faced with a conflict situation and guidelines on how to deal with each.

Passively - " I surrender approach"

A non-confrontational approach where an amiable person is ready to do anything to avoid getting into a conflict situation, the person is ready to give up his/her opinions, requests or even personal comfort just to avoid the fight. For this type of personality, being liked by everyone is very important. This type of person will do anything not to hurt the feeling of others even at the expense of their own time or happiness.

If someone in your team responds to conflict passively in that manner, be very careful as they may never clearly verbalize their dissatisfaction. This type of employee will just suddenly quit one day, you need to closely monitor them, make sure they are not constantly overworked and at the same time try to encourage him/her to say no sometimes and become more assertive when they feel overwhelmed.

 Passive-Agressive - "Not getting into the fight"

Very similar to the passive "I surrender" approach is this approach as well, where the person who reacts to conflict in this way will do anything to avoid getting into and face the conflict situation. The main difference is that this person take a somewhat more passive-aggressive approach where he or she may hide information to make the other party look bad, or not showing up to an important meeting or event, they prefer to voice their dissatisfaction via a strong toned email rather than deal with the conflict face to face.

This type of person needs a lot of reassurance to open up and start voicing their disagreements more openly, they also need to feel that it is safe to talk and there is some degree of confidentiality cause remember they are not comfortable dealing with confrontations and are ready to do whatever it takes to avoid it. 

See also: Communicate assertively


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Facing the Fight

These are colleagues or employees with the driver kind of personality. they can get aggressive with any hint of conflict or whenever they feel threatened or treated unfairly. some of them even thrive on conflict and have no problem at all getting on with the confrontation anytime anyplace.
They may lack sensitivity to others feelings and when they disagree with someone, they can even get insulting and may come across as rude sometimes even if they do not mean to be.

If you work with colleagues with this type of reaction when faced with a conflict situation, you may want to help this person to focus on solutions that meet everyone's needs and not just their own needs. This person may need constant reminding that utilizing the support of your team will make him/her reach their goals faster than doing it on their own.


A compromiser looks at a conflict situation as a waste of time or a distraction from getting his/her job done so a compromiser tries to avoid conflict  as soon as it arises by coming up with a quick solution to the problem that is somewhat fair and gives everyone a little of what they want just to get it over with and return back to their normal work routine as soon as possible.

Getting to a quick compromise without looking closely into the matter may not be the best way to go, this may be a quick fix but it may not last and the same or a related issue may arise again quickly so if you have a team member who is always happy to jump to a quick fix compromise solution to the conflict you should encourage him/her to look more carefully at the bigger picture, take their time and ensure that the proposed compromise is fair and is a sustainable and satisfactory solution to all parties.

Collaborative approach

 People with this style of approaching conflict look at the situation in a completely different way. They see conflict as a chance to improve the overall situation and possibly building better and stronger relations with the other party. This is the type of person who really enjoys working with others and is usually a great team players and genuinely likes interacting with others. These are the types of people who enjoy a good conversation and they always seek opinions of others.

How do you perceive conflict?

This is the optimum perception of conflict to have, seeing conflict as an opportunity to go forward , make things better, build stronger relations not only resolves the conflict situation, but results in a more robust and cohesive team working environment.

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