Weekly Training Booster Episode #5: How to Deal with Conflict/Managing Conflict


Improve How You Deal With Conflict

Join Andy Palmer and Darren A. Smith in the fifth episode of the Weekly Training Booster. This episode was about how to deal with conflict, or manage conflict. We discussed how important tone is to the situation, the use of irritators, and the Thomas-Kilman conflict behavioural model.

You Can Read the How to Deal With Conflict Episode Transcript Below:

Andy Palmer:

Okay. We’re back here again with an MBM Weekly Training Booster. This is number five. Today we’re talking about conflict resolution. So Darren and I had a huge disagreement this morning over something that felt quite trivial at the time, but it’s caused us quite a bit of friction between the pair of us. Now, we’re both going head to head and yet we’re trying to figure out if we had our time again, how could we manage our conflicts better? How could we get conflict resolution faster? So Darren, if we had our time again, what would you and I have done differently?

Darren A. Smith:

I think what I read about conflict is that everyone says, “Just calm down, listen, do it properly.” But actually, when you’re in conflict, you basically want to beat the other person to a pulp. I get that. So telling us that we need to calm down and it shouldn’t matter, I get why people are saying that. Actually, I’m not sure that achieves the behavioral change that we’re looking for because what we’re really looking for is to understand that it happens. The adrenaline’s pumping, we’re in conflict and I think what we need to know is what’s going on more in our heads at that time. And I want to share a couple of models that hopefully will help people understand what is going on in their heads, which I think then will calm them down rather than just telling them, “You need to be calmer.”

Andy Palmer:

All right, good stuff. I think the calming down a bit’s important just to take the heat out of the situation. And yet the psychology that sits behind the reason why we’re already in that place and then what we can do is where the true value and the importance comes from. So let’s hear about this first model that’s in your mind right now.

Darren A. Smith:

Okay. So it’s Thomas Kilmann. These guys came up with a model many years ago and it says that we have five ways of dealing with conflict and we have a default, one of them. So if we can understand which one we are defaulting to, that will help us understand how we deal with conflict normally because that’s our default behavior. Now, once we understand that stuff and we understand it well and we’re trained in it, we can then move into using other behaviors, because the challenge isn’t to stop having conflict, the challenges to manage conflict using other behaviors.

So as an example, one of the behaviors is avoid. Now everyone sees that as the weak one, but it’s not because sometimes you just need to walk away. So one of the five default behaviors is avoid. And if we can plant that in people’s heads, then maybe one in 100 arguments, if they’re really in conflict, they might just walk away because they’ll live to fight another day.

Andy Palmer:

Yeah, absolutely. I think depending upon the level of conflict and of attention of where that could then go, being mindful of actually making a conscious effort to avoid escalation can be super powerful and why some people will have an avoiding mode just by default. It allows them to at least select it or be aware of where they’re at.

Darren A. Smith:

It does. And avoiding isn’t the weak one, all five are exactly equal.

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Improve how you deal with conflict with this week’s WTB

Andy Palmer:

Good. Okay. So, that’s avoiding. Tell us about one of the other styles.

Darren A. Smith:

Well, I’ll go right to the other end, the one that I am. And again, each of these has their strength and weakness. So on our Kilmann model, there’s competing. And the phrase that people would use to describe competing is might is right. And these guys will just keep puddling away until the other person gives in. And sometimes that works, of course it does. And other times it doesn’t. Accepting that you are a competer, you’re someone who is pushing to be right all the time, helps you understand actually you can’t be right all the time.

Andy Palmer:

Absolutely, it’s good. And I know, from myself, I sit actually smack bang in the middle of that compromising mode. Whereas I look to find compromises and look to find things I can give to get and vice versa. It’s interesting how these different styles can work together and at the same time create even further friction. And it comes back to just an awareness of them. Forewarned is forearmed and that’s good.

Okay. So we’ve talked about avoiding, competing, the compromising one. Self-explanatory. What are the other two?

Darren A. Smith:

So there are two more, there’s accommodating and collaborating. Now, anyone out there who is thinking, “Well, if I had a choice of all the five, I’d probably pick collaborating.” Yeah, you probably would, but let’s imagine sometimes maybe there’s a buyer and they’re really pushing, competing. And sometimes you want to meet might with might. So collaborating might be seen as losing. So of the five styles, there’s the right style for each situation. Now we can’t train and learn all five, but maybe if we’ve got one, we can add one, maybe two to it and at least that gives us a choice in conflict.

Andy Palmer:

It doe indeed, it’s the ability to be able to dial up or dial down based on the situation. I think, as with any of these models and these ways of working, it’s being aware of the situation because it’s situation based and then making a conscious choice to do stuff differently or do stuff the same depending upon where you sit and certainly where you sit within this model.

All right. Good stuff. All right. So we’re talking about how to manage conflict. If there was one top tip that comes to your mind, sitting beyond understanding this particular model, what does that look like?

Darren A. Smith:

So as HBDI Yellow, a big picture thinker, I don’t do the detail or I struggle. The phrase I took away was something I read a few weeks ago and it was from a famous guy and I’ve forgotten his name, but that will come back to me. The famous quote was something like in conflict, 90% is the tone that you use. And I absolutely love that because we know that words, body language and tone matter. But in conflict home really matters. If you’re using the wrong tone, it doesn’t matter what the words are. You’re already in that conflict and you’re going to struggle. So I think my top tip is to be aware of the tone that you’re using.

And I’m going to add a rider to that from our negotiation training, something called [irritaters 00:06:22]. I’ve seen negotiators when they’re in conflict throwing in irritaters and an irritater looks like, “Yeah, I bet you couldn’t do that anyway.” “Imagine a 12 year old girl doing that.” And we do some of that as adults just to irritate the other person and then we’re surprised when they’re irritated. So be careful about tone and avoid irritaters.

Andy Palmer:

Nice, absolutely love that. We’ve got a whole raft of thoughts and thinking [inaudible 00:06:48] around how you can more better manage conflict, how you can get conflict resolution. We’re going to put the link to our ultimate guide to conflict resolution. We’ll put that in the comments at the bottom. That’s there to take away and read and it brings to light all the things we’ve spoken about today. So we’re going to wrap up there. That’s our Weekly Training Boost, number five. Using and better understanding conflict management with some further reading because we know you’re going to be hungry to go away and understand more how you can maybe manage conflict more effectively. Thank you, Darren. We’ll see you next time.

Darren A. Smith:

Take care all, bye bye.

Take a look at the How to Deal with Conflict video on our YouTube Channel. Also, check out our award-winning blog.

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