Sometimes we figure we’re going pretty OK in life – at work, or socially. But then someone seems to confront us for no apparent reason. And perhaps there’s an adrenalin surge, a moment of bewilderment… And then we turn and respond almost instinctively.
It’s really useful to identify just how we tend to instinctively react in that situation. The Australian Institute of Family Counselling (AIFC) quote authors Bruce & Nellie Litchfield as giving five behaviours people use to respond when conflict comes at them.
- Competitive Response – “I must win at any cost.” These people take a firm stand. They know what they want. They respond with a “I’m right, you’re wrong” mentality – and someone will have to lose.
- Compromising Response – Negotiating, trying to find a solution that will at least partially satisfy everyone. Everyone gives up roughly the same amount of ground.
- Accommodating Response – These people are willing to meet the needs of others at the expense of their own needs. They accommodate themselves to other people’s view, are self-sacrificing, and passive.
- Avoiding Response – They withdraw and dodge the conflict altogether. They seek to avoid pain and hurt – but often the feelings are repressed, leading to more serious problems later on.
- Collaborative Response – These people seek a resolution that tries to respect and hear everyone. Usually they have developed some skills in assertiveness, and acknowledge that everyone (even themselves) are important.
Which one are you most often when there is sudden unexpected conflict? You may even be a combination of responses. (Your response may perhaps be different at different times in your life.)
Knowing yourself is really useful when conflict happens in your marriage too.
Over the next weeks, we’ll practice a weekly routine that will help you learn to deal with communicating your own hurts and pains – and how to respond to your partner’s voiced hurts and pains.
Please be encouraged – we’ll look at proven techniques for communicating.
When misunderstanding or hurt or conflict happens, please choose to communicate (despite vulnerability, hurt and struggle).
Read “5 Collaborative Response” (above) once again. Isn’t that a goal worth working towards?
Content of inset section is copyright 1992 Bruce & Nellie Litchfield, Litchfield Family Services, Canberra. Other content copyright 2018 Greg Weller