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Conflict: pushing the right buttons


Several of the Insight team, including me, are working towards accreditation in the Conflict Dynamics Profile and attended a course led by Paul Chudleigh and Pierre Naquet last Friday. The profile identifies the behaviours we each tend to use when faced with conflict. Some of these behaviours are constructive and some less so! We also learnt about our ‘hot buttons’ – the things that other people do that really wind us up!

The profile is a really interesting and useful way to think about our own approaches to conflict situations – identifying where we respond in a way that helps overcome negative conflict and where we might need to think about changing, or managing our responses. We’re really excited about starting to use the profile with clients in the new year.
In the meantime, here are five things I’ve learnt about conflict:

1. Conflict is inevitable: people have different perspectives and goals, it’s what makes ideas richer and decisions better. How we handle those differences leads to positive or negative experiences of ‘conflict’. We don’t always register the positive experiences as ‘conflict’ because we are primed to view conflict as negative and destructive.

2. How we handle conflict depends on our goal in that situation: if our goal is to find a solution or strengthen a relationship we will put more energy into behaving positively with others. If we don’t care about the relationship, if our goal is to prove a point or to ‘win’ then we will behave more destructively. I don’t think we’re always consciously aware of our goals, or we may not want to admit to ourselves when our goal is less than positive – I hear people say that they want to find the best solution, when what they mean is that they want everyone to agree that their solution is the best solution!

3. Conflict and resilience are really closely related: managing conflict situations well is about managing our own emotional and instinctive responses in order to be constructive. Emotional control takes a lot of mental energy and will be much harder to do when we are tired, hungry or generally drained. Looking after ourselves well is vital for good conflict resolution.

4. Our ‘hot buttons’ are linked to our values: seeing others behave in a way that challenges our values can evoke strong emotional responses from us and make us more vulnerable to creating conflict. Most of us wouldn’t want to change our values – they are core to who we are – but we can change our responses to others by being more aware of our hot buttons.

5. We can develop Conflict Competence: this is the ability to develop and use cognitive, emotional and behavioural skills that enhance productive outcomes of conflict while reducing the likelihood of escalation or harm (Mediation Training Institute). By understanding our own responses and developing techniques to manage our emotions and develop more constructive behaviours, we can have a significant impact on our ability to turn negative conflict into positive problem solving that values everyone’s views.

We will be running an open course on 5th February 2020…contact pip@insight-hrc.co.uk for more information.

Pip Gwynn


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