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Productive Conflict

Conflict at work can be extremely stressful for the parties involved. During a conflict situation, it’s easy and natural to fall into the trap of blaming the other person, with negative emotions clouding judgement. That is why having a toolkit for taking blame out of the equation and replacing it with understanding and accountability can be so powerful. The Everything DiSC® Productive Conflict assessment that we use at APLS Group provides tools to better understand productive and destructive tendencies when it comes to conflict. Approaches to conflict are rooted in personality, and each personality-based conflict style has its strengths and blind spots, with people often expressing elements of more than one style in their personality at work.

People who have a “D” style (“D” stands for dominance) appreciate directness. They are candid and share their disagreements without the intention of giving offense. They welcome debate, although they may have the tendency to think they are right. Problems arise when this style meets with other more emotionally sensitive styles, who may feel unappreciated, criticized or even attacked. The “D” style has to develop the self-awareness to realize that what they interpret as direct others may think rude and harsh.

People who have an “I” style (“I” stands for influence) appreciate emotional sensitivity. People with an “I” style tend to be outgoing, enthusiastic and optimistic. At their best, they foster open dialogue. Friendliness and humor are important when disagreement arises, and direct confrontation may be read as rejection. “I” style personalities need to pause, regulate their emotions and recognize that other communication styles, such as directness, are not necessarily wrong or threatening.

People who have an “S” style (“S” stands for steadiness) appreciate harmony. Coworkers who have an S-style personality are strong consensus-builders. They are adept at finding what people share in common and are often understood as peacemakers. Their main weakness, though, is that they are conflict-avoidant, which can get them into trouble. They may fall into being a people pleaser or withdraw.

People who have a “C” style (“C” stands for conscientiousness) appreciate data. C-style personalities seek out information and make logical cases for their positions. They tend to be the cool-head ones who focus on the facts and truly respect a well-researched argument. They are best appealed to with data and logic, but may retreat if emotions run high. People with a C-style personality need to be aware of the perils of analysis paralysis.

While it’s tempting to think the person we are in conflict with is blameworthy, it’s much more helpful to pause and recognize he or she may have a fundamentally different way of relating to the world.

A “D”-style person, for example, may be tempted to label an “S” style as weak when, in fact, the “S” style feels the best option is to withdraw when “bullied” by the “D” style. If all parties understood each other better and were aware of very predictable patterns of miscommunication, they would have to tools to rise above their more destructive conflict tendencies and move toward something much more energizing: productive conflict.

If you think this would be a great tool for your organization or want more information, contact us at APLS Group.  We are experienced in the Productive Conflict tool/assessment and ready to help.

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