Mediation and Business Consulting by Kathleen Kauth.
How do you respond to conflict? It is very personal, and is based on millions of experiences that have shaped each person. Each situation is different, and you may find different responses that fit different situations.
There are some whose first response to conflict is to stand their ground and get into it. Sometimes this may result in physical fighting, but more often than not it involves verbally pushing back on what someone else is saying or doing. It is a clear line in the sand delineating where you stand on a subject and your willingness to defend your position.
Fighting back against something doesn’t have to be nasty. Many times people are unwilling to push back against something they disagree with because they do not want to be seen as uncooperative or argumentative. Effective disagreement is a skill set that needs to be practiced (https://ktbeckenterprisesllc.com/blog/f/effective-disagreement). But it is important to know yourself well enough to identify what topics you will fight for.
Other people’s first response to conflict or disagreement may be flight. They have extreme difficulty dealing with challenging or being challenged. When they engage in flight, it may be physical by actually removing themselves from the situation (“oh, look at the time…I’ve got to get to another meeting”) or mentally taking a break and shutting down the part of the brain that is paying attention to the argument (otherwise known as “spacing off”).
This individual chooses to avoid the topics that cause consternation. This limits how they are able to engage and usually winds up with them complying with the dominant party so as to remain comfortably uninvolved with the conflict.
Have you ever left a conflicted situation and minutes later thought of the perfect response? Of course you have! Freezing is another word for processing information at a slower rate than others in the conflict. People who process things slower are usually digesting more information and details than those who have exceptionally quick responses. Their replies and engagement is often more thought out — but frequently the moment has passed and they may not feel they can re-engage.
For the person who freezes in conflicts, prepare a set response that you would love to engage in the discussion, but want to think through the issue first. Then set a time to re-engage. This gives you time to lay out your thoughts and responses and may cool down heated rhetoric from the other party.
Know yourself and practice
No matter which way you tend to respond, understanding why and how you deal with conflict will help you get better at it. Like most things in life, learning how to deal with conflict takes practice!