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  • benjaminnewman01

Mod. 5 Activity - Conflict Modes

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

Please complete the assessment. Below, please include what your default mode is in the situation you reflected on when taking it? Is this a surprise to you? With this knowledge, how do or how might you approach situations that could create disagreement and conflict? Are there any approaches we covered this week that might be useful to you?


Competition - 5, Collaborating - 9, Compromise - 6, Avoiding - 2, Accommodation - 8

These results aren’t particularly surprising to me. I’m not sure what this says about me, but I tend to encounter or be involved with conflict on a somewhat regular basis. There are three reasons I believe this occurs: 1) Because I know conflict is inevitable 2) Because I’m not afraid of conflict 3) Because I know, when worked through effectively, conflict resolution creates extraordinary results including greater trust in one another, strength as a team, and building a strong foundation for the path forward.

Because of these three characteristics, it’s not surprising that my avoiding score was a 2. I don’t seek out conflict, as demonstrated by my collaborative and accommodating scores, but neither do I shy away from it. I tend to view these five categories through a lens of power. For me, collaboration and accommodation are two ways in which power sharing can occur. Competition and avoidance are singular ways of asserting or protecting one’s power either by demonstrating one’s influence or importance through assertion or by smiling silently and having private conversations outside of the space in which potential conflict might occur. Compromise is notably the one I struggle with the most of the five categories, despite it being my third highest score, because in my experience, compromise is a veil for fake collaboration because people are either too avoidant or accommodating to actually work through any sort of conflict. As a result, a compromise might be made, but it leaves no one at the table happy and no one feels good about the path forward.

Where I find the most value in this assessment is that it provides a tangible resource for understanding other people’s ways of engaging in conflict that I can use in my own work and meetings. Trying to apply the principle of not working to change people, but rather, listening and understanding their point of view, it’s important that I try to assess where people align within these categories so I can meet them where they are, and use some of these tools to try and open them up to different perspectives and ways of operating, without making them feel hurt or judged. For example, the “niceness” problem in many nonprofit organizations ends up attracting people who are accommodating and avoidant. Being more assertive and collaborative, I have found that my assertiveness and collaborative nature ends up confusing people because they don’t understand why or what reason I have for being assertive, and then they view my attempts to collaborate as compromising, rather than collaborating, thus confusing them further.

What I’m learning here is that depending on what my role in the space is, I should be more observational at first to try and sense where people are coming from, and then create an action plan that tests out my observations in a way that will verify whether or not my observations were correct. My assertive side tends to come out when there’s a sense of urgency or decisions need to be made quickly, which tend to be the times where people are pushed to be more assertive and then my collaborative side takes over and allows their perspective to be considered equally among the other points of view. I also want to experiment with how I might apply the frameworks and tools of OKRs, Duties & Responsibilities Checklists, Self-Assessments, and Anonymous Questions to both better understand the people with whom I’m working with, and also meet them where they are, instead of trying to drag them with me.


Part 2: Journal Prompt

You do not need to share this with me, but please complete the following journal prompt. Write for five minutes without lifting your pen or stopping to think about what you’re writing. Begin with the prompt “When I think about engaging in challenging conversations with coworkers and colleagues, I…”

When I think about engaging in challenging conversations with coworkers and colleagues, I’ve developed a practice to make sure I retain my largest goals and my supervisor or client in mind first. Meaning, if I’m in the middle of a challenging conversation, I will try to either reframe the conversation by asking the client or leader of the group to restate or reframe the goals so there’s an understanding of whose perspective and voice has the most impact and investment in the conversation. Another approach I take is to draw out and share with the group where the value of what the aggressive party is trying to express is significant and worth considering.

Just this week I had this situation arise and employed these tactics. I consistently credited the aggressor for the value of what they were sharing, but their tactics were problematic because they questioned the validity of both the leader and a primary team member’s expertise in a way that was received as disrespectful. Following the call, I spoke with the leader to get a sense of how they felt about what had happened on the call, we identified possible reasons and then discussed how to move forward. The leader followed up with the primary team member who had been questioned to make sure there weren’t any residual issues or tension, and I followed up with a supervisor from the aggressor’s team to share what had happened in a way that was gracious, but also reflected the truth, and asked for solutions and clarification from them on how to not misinterpret the intentions of the aggressor’s words and actions, however poorly articulated, and discuss how to move ahead. Fortunately, this group of individuals are all professionals and everyone was able to navigate the tension during the meeting without taking things personally, but it was a great opportunity for me to see how these events can be resolved in a professional and respectful manner that still prioritizes the necessary outcomes without creating unnecessary drama or tension.

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