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Conflict resolution depends on your response

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

The Thomas–Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument tells us we react to conflict in 1 or 2 out of 5 ways: competing, accommodating, avoiding, collaborating, compromising.

No matter which mode is your default, your response can diffuse the situation or add fuel to the fire. The good news is we have more agency over our reactions, and thus outcomes than we realise.

For example, imagine you are driving your car and somebody cuts you up. You can get angry and wave your hands around and honk the horn. You can get irritated because they put you and other drivers in danger. Or you might think the person did it because they are in a rush to an important job interview.

Each of the responses will have a different outcome impacting not just your heart rate and blood pressure, but also your mood for the rest of the day.

This is where Jack Canfield and his E+R=O concept comes in. The idea is that you can't control the events that happen in your life but you can control your response.

Events and things around you will influence you, but your response is always your choice. The outcome you get is determined by the response you choose. If you want a better outcome, you need to choose a better response.

If you often experience a similar outcome e.g. interactions with one colleague often lead to disagreement, you can try changing your communication style and observe the impact on the outcome. If it doesn't work, think about the assumption you have of the person or give them feedback on how the disagreements make you feel. Keep changing until you get the outcome you want.

This is how life works. It’s our job to get good at it. The better we manage the response, the better our life will be and the better the experience we'll give to people around us.



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