A layman thinks, conflicts are bad and should be avoided. People believe that a good relationship is one where there are no conflicts. But the truth is (I believe too as a marriage counsellor) that where there are vessels, they are bound to collide with each other. In each marriage/relationship elements of conflicts or disagreement appears from time to time. A conflict occurs when an action by one-person blocks, intercepts or barricade with the actions of another person. Conflicts sometimes may be the cause of divorce, separation, stress, psychological problem and violence etc. Research says failure to handle conflicts in constructive ways leads towards destruction of marriage/relationship.
You all have experienced conflicts of different altitude and relevance. Even you have observed that sometimes you end up being stuck in your problem where as someone else with the same problem is able to resolve the similar issues much better than you. The one thing that differentiates you from other is the level of conflict resolution techniques or problem-solving skills. The outlook people pertain towards problems is much different than yours. You all have our own style or strategy which you usually apply in conflicted situations. People mostly apply different approaches like Flight, Fight and Freeze on different occasions to resolve conflicts. The following 5 propositions will help you gain a perspective and an understanding of your Conflict Resolution Style or Strategy. They include:
- The Owl Strategy or Style (Cooperating/Collaborating)
- The Shark Strategy or Style (Forcing/Competing/Attacking)
- The Fox Strategy or Style (Compromising/Manipulative)
- The Teddy Bear Strategy or Style (Accommodating/Smoothing over)
- The Turtle Strategy or Style (Avoiding/Withdrawal)
The Owl Strategy or Style (Cooperating/Collaborating)
An individual who applies this approach is someone who views a problem with an idea to solve it. They always try and search for a way to resolve the conflict and are ready to make adjustments in order to achieve it. They would rather explain their point of view when it comes to an issue but also at the same time hold the ability to understand and perceive other person’s point of view. They are willing to learn from each other and hold the ability to grow as a person.
The Owl is a symbol of wisdom and alertness so faces the situation well and develops mutuality and adjustment. You prefer a resolution where everybody’s needs are assimilated or paid attention to. You seek for an outcome where everyone is in a Win-Win situation i.e. “I win- You win.” You are assertive and open. You are not afraid to stand up for yourself as well as other’s need in a respectful way.
If u have this style, it indicates that the marriage/relationship is highly important (intimacy) and goals, needs along with expectations are also highly important.
The Shark Strategy or Style (Forcing/Competing/Attacking)
An individual who applies this approach is someone who perceives a conflict as a competition. They can only look at a situation in two ways; if one wins the other loses. They have a more forcing style of dealing with a conflict, where they would aim only for their needs to be met. They are competitive in nature. This style goes more for an ‘I Win – You Lose’ choice.
The Shark is aggressive by nature so tries to win by attacking and overpowering another person. The communication style here comes across as intimidating and aggressive. You end up getting what you need but end up having damaged or destroyed relationships. The other person whose needs are not met will be upset, even if they do not share this with you. They likely will hold a grudge against you, and this will fester. This approach can be counterproductive in nature.
If u have this style, it indicates that neither you are interested in marriage/relationship nor interested in knowing the goals, needs and expectations of another person.
The Fox Strategy or Style (Compromising/Manipulative)
An individual who applies this approach is someone who uses compromising style to deal with a conflict. They believe both parties should compromise. They believe in meeting halfway to ensure that the relationship remains unharmed. They are eager to deal with the conflict so they look ways by which they can solve the issue in order to satisfy all. This style goes more for an ‘I Win Some – You Win Some & I Lose Some’ choice.
As fox is of cunning nature so they know conflict cannot be solved unless there is a compromise and both parties come to an understanding on a decision. You are way too focused on finding a solution that your communication style ends up being fairly shallow. The conflict is only superficially resolved. It’s a way to defuse the present situation and if required you will change the way to gain your own interest. You manipulate others to achieve your goals and are not interested in straight forward relationships and intimacy.
If you have this style, it indicates the relationship is important (manipulative) and your goals, needs and expectations are also important along with others.
Teddy Bear Strategy or Style (Accommodating/Smoothing over)
An individual who applies this approach is someone has an accommodating style. When a conflict arises they view the conflict as something bad that needs to be addressed in a peaceful way as soon as possible. The conflict distresses them to a great extent hence they would do anything within their knowledge and power to resolve the problem. They would rather give in and not address their needs in order to resolve the conflict. Here they only end up catering to the needs of others. This style goes more for a ‘You Win – I Lose’ choice.
The Teddy Bear is a baby bear, lovable and would like everyone to love. You don’t wish to bother others. People think of you as people pleaser. You do not engage in painful and difficult conversations with others. The relationships in your life remain intact but only on the surface. On a long term, you end up resenting yourself and your self-esteem. You may feel like a door mat, wherein you think people only use you. This is because you are not able to tell others what is important for you. This style is harmful for your own wellbeing.
If you have this style, it indicates the marriage/ relationship is more important and you do not want to hurt people and is yourself scared of getting hurt. You give up your goals, feelings, expectations, opinions etc. and let others have what they want.
The Turtle Strategy or Style (Avoiding/Withdrawal)
An individual who applies this approach is someone who has an avoiding style when approaching a conflict. They hope to ignore the conflict in order to resolve it. They do not want to. They end up walking away, withdrawing or delaying. This style goes more for an ‘I Lose, You Lose’ choice. They do not express their needs nor discuss the needs of others.
The Turtle withdraws into its shell in a threatening situation, which is like a stone and no matter whatever happens outside, he does not come out. This resolution style ends up frustrating others. The relationships here are shallow and are on a verge of a break-down. You are aware that avoiding the conflict will not make the conflict magically disappear but at the same time you are unwilling to take an action. This approach is disadvantage for everyone involved.
If you have this style, it indicates the marriage/ relationship is not important for you. Neither you communicate with others, nor like others to approach you. For you, goals, feelings and expectations are not important. You don’t express your own needs and expectations and also don’t want to know the needs and expectations of other people.
As you read, all styles or strategies are applicable and you use according to your circumstances. You may notice that you see yourself in more than one of these styles. By identifying yours, you may be able to better or change aspects of yourself that are required. You have also to understand which is best style to strengthen marriage/relationship and growth to bring intimacy between two people to create a better environment.