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Four conflict styles and how to overcome them

Published on 28 Jul 2021 by David Simpson

As human beings, we build plenty of relationships with other humans. Whether personal or professional, relationships require care and effort. However, it’s only natural for conflicts to occur because we all have different backgrounds, beliefs and opinions. Especially when emotions run high and we just want to do what’s best for us.

So, how can we resolve issues in a way that doesn’t harm relationships? The Gottman Institute's The Four Horsemen framework has identified the common damaging behaviours during conflicts and provides us with antidotes to overcome them.

We want to share these 4 types of conflict styles with you and how you can overcome them so you can improve your teamwork and the effectiveness of your work.

  • Criticism

Criticism focuses on attacking a person’s character. Instead, talk about your feelings by starting with “I”, which sets the discussion in a positive direction.

  • Contempt

This happens when one decides to take the moral high ground. Let’s show appreciation. When we do so, we’ll fix our eyes on the positive things we love about each other instead.

  • Stonewalling

Stonewalling happens when we cave into silence. Be aware of it and request a timeout. Do what helps you to relax. Once it is over, the discussion will be more constructive.

  • Defensiveness

Defensiveness pushes the blame away from ourselves and towards the other party. Instead of playing the blame game, we can accept our share of responsibility.

Use these tricks to turn negative conflict styles around and to resolve conflicts in a constructive way.

PS: did you know that team development training helps you master conflict resolution skills?

David Simpson

Co-Founder & Training Director at Team Building Asia

Challenging people to reach their highest potential through experiential, interactive and fun workshops with a strong and meaningful business outcome.

Interested finding out more about Team Building Asia programs?

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