This report draws together important insights from the Style Matters tutorial and organizes them with your scores. You will get more out of the report if you first receive a short introduction to conflict styles. You may get this in a workshop or there's a short slideshow here.
This report contains:
a) A chart of your scores in all the styles.
b) A summary of your key styles, that is, the styles to which you should pay the most attention
c) Details about your highest Storm style. This is the style you are most likely to use when you are under stress, so it is particularly important to understand this style well.
d) Details about your lowest Calm style. Getting better acquainted with this style will make you more effective in conflict, since you seem to use it least, even in the favorable environment of calm settings.
e) Info about your Storm Shift, that is, the extent to which your response to conflict changes when you are getting frustrated.
f) Resources for further learning about conflict styles.
Your Conflict Styles in Order of Preference
Below is a list of conflict styles, arranged in the order in which you are likely to use them. The list on the left shows your preferences when things are Calm, that is, in everyday disagreements that have not raised emotions to a high level. On the right are the styles in your order of preference in Storm, when anger and frustration are high.
Response when issues/conflicts first arises
Responses after the issues/conflicts have been unresolved and may have grown in intensity
Styles to Study with Particular Care
Preferred Style. The style you use the most in Storm is: 11 Cooperating. Give your best attention to this style, for it is the one most active when you are under high stress. Knowing its strengths and dangers is important. You will also want to review the list of things that others around you can do to support you to function at your best.
Least Preferred Style. The style you use the least in Calm is: 5 Harmonizing. Studying this style, particularly recognizing its strengths, is likely to expand your range of response in conflict.
Storm Shift: The style that changes the most for you when you shift from Calm into Storm mode is: Harmonizing Styles goes up by 3. The Storm shift can be important because you may surprise and confuse people if there is a drastic change in your styles when you move into Storm mode.
You will learn more about each of the above scores in the report that follows, in the tutorial on the Riverhouse site or from your trainer if you are taking a workshop
You Scored Highest in Storm in the Cooperating Style
This suggests that when stress and tension are high, you try to create a discussion in which both sides openly present their views or needs and then work intensively to find solutions that address these fully. People who score high in Cooperating bring unusual optimism to conflict, the belief that it is possible to meet the needs of everyone if people will talk things through. Like all the styles, Cooperating has a particular set of strengths and weaknesses that you should be aware of.
Strengths of Cooperating
Strengths associated with wise use of this style are many:
- An attitude of confidence and optimism. People who favor Cooperating have unusual confidence that "we can work things out". Their hopefulness can be a gift to others.
- Leads to strong teams. Cooperating is committed to both task and relationship. Partners and teams who use it well become strong units; the work gets done in a thorough way and the people involved enjoy good relationships.
- Innovation and creativity. Solutions that nobody had thought of before often emerge in the intense, interactive, respectful probing typical of a Cooperating style.
- Skill at talking things through. It's impossible to use Cooperating well unless you develop special skills for talking things through. Though they are not always even aware they have them, people good at Cooperating often possess these skills, learned by trial and error or through good modeling of parents or teachers.
- Endurance. People who score high in Cooperating often have unusual stamina for talking things through. They know from experience that it takes time to find solutions that work well for everyone. They have the confidence to present their own unique views and the courage to keep talking even when others disagree. They help others not to lose hope in the possibility of finding peace even in the midst of big differences.
- Personal growth. People who use Cooperating a lot are constantly challenged to develop new abilities and knowledge. They develop confidence that they can solve problems and they reach for more. Their confidence and their attitude towards others encourages similar growth in those around them.
- Trust between people. When teams or groups use Cooperating successfully, their confidence in each other grows. The feeling is: We can deal with our issues.....
Costs of Unwise Use
Though it has wonderful strengths and seems like it ought to be the answer for all conflicts, it is important to recognize that, like all styles, Cooperating has its limits. Unwise or excessive use of Cooperating is likely to bring:
- Fatigue, time loss, distraction from more important tasks. Not all conflicts merit the intense time and effort required to Cooperate. Applied to too many trivial issues, Cooperating backfires, as people weary of "too much processing".
- Increased conflict and misunderstanding, if used without consideration of status. This style involves being "up front" about what you want. A junior secretary should not use it with the company CEO, nor should a CEO assume others will feel free to use it with him or her. Cooperating is complicated when power and status are unequal.
- Attempted without realistic awareness of the time and skills required, failure is likely and discouragement follows.
- A bad name for "conflict resolution", "dialogue", "peace processes", etc., can result if Cooperating is pursued too long with an opponent who takes an unyielding Directing or Avoiding stance. Yes,
Cooperating approach often brings forth a Cooperating response in others, but it does not always do so. If you persist anyway, you may damage the cause of peace by creating evidence it "doesn't work".
Steps to Maintain Balance
You can take special measures so you experience more of the benefits of wise use of Cooperating and fewer of the costs of unwise use:
- Expand your abilities to use other styles so you are less likely to over-use Cooperating.
- Choose issues carefully for which you invest the effort required by Cooperating. Make sure the issues matter enough, and your views are distant enough, to merit the use of this energy-intensive style.
- Consider the dynamics of status and power. To the extent inequality is present, use a two-step approach. As a higher status person, begin with affirmation or appreciation of the other person; as a lower status person, thank or otherwise acknowledge your senior for being willing to meet to resolve things. Only after these preliminaries should you move to the open discussion typical of Cooperating.
- Learn to think in terms of timing and readiness. Recognize when the skills and attitudes required for Cooperating are present,and when they are not, and choose your response style appropriately. Sometimes it is better to use a different strategy for a while until you or others are ready for Cooperating.
- If the conflict involves numerous people, plan the process together. Usually it it not hard to agree on with whom, where, when, in what sequence things will be discussed. This "agreement on the process" will ease the discussion.
Support Strategies for Cooperating
Each style benefits from certain Support Strategies that other people can take. You may wish to discuss with friends and colleagues those suggestions below that you would you particularly like others to know about and use with you:
- Feeling heard helps all styles, but Cooperators respond particularly well to efforts to structure conversation around listening. Hear them out fully and you are likely to be surprised at how well even an angry Cooperator will listen in response. If you know the skill of "active listening" or paraphrasing, use it.
- Most Cooperators respect directness and candor in others , so long as it is polite. Saying what you want and need will be appreciated by a Cooperator, particularly if you manage to say it in an attitude of "providing information about what matters most to me" rather than criticizing or making demands.
- Stay connected and do not back off too quickly from your own views. Harmonizers and Avoiders, in particular, need to make effort to resist the temptation to back off from an assertive Cooperator. Yes, Cooperators do speak out, but they see their own expression of views as only one part of the process. They truly want to hear other views too. If you are silent or too quick to agree, the Cooperator ends up feeling like a Director, which is not at all the intention.
- Bring a blend of task and relationship focus to the conversation. Affirm work well done
- Like the Directing style, Cooperators particularly appreciate information about what is going on,and tend to become anxious or upset if others pull away without signalling their intentions. Withdrawing if you need space is fine, so long as you give a clear explanation that you are committed to ongoing conversation, such as, "I want to go for a walk for half an hour to think things through. Then I'll come back and we can talk some more."
- An Avoider who needs to step back and prepare inwardly for a difficult conversation being proposed by a Cooperator might say, "I want you to know that I recognize we need to talk this through. I want to be at my best when we do that, and I'd like to ask that we plan to discuss it tomorrow at 2 after the staff meeting."
- A Harmonizer who is overwhelmed with a first round of conversation (Cooperators tend to have a lot of energy for long processing of issues and to assume that everyone else does as well.) might say to a high-energy Cooperator, "I'm really worn out by this last half hour of discussion. Could we agree to take a break and continue tomorrow evening?" (A really self-aware and confident Harmonizer might take steps to meet his or her own needs by adding: "And could we plan to spend the first 15 minutes just drinking coffee and catching up a little on our lives? That would help me to feel connected to you as a human being before we dive into this decision again."
Your Lowest Score in Calm is in the Harmonizing Style
This suggests that in the early stages of conflict, when it's just an everyday disagreement and things have not yet gotten emotional or terribly frustrating, you rarely use Harmonizing. This is good in that it enables you to avoid potential weaknesses of the Harmonizing style, which could include failing to take a stand on things that actually matter to you, or being unable to press ahead with important work if others challenge you.
But every style has strengths and weaknesses. You will be most effective in conflict if you are able to use all five styles when the circumstances require. Since you seem to be uncomfortable with Harmonizing, you can likely expand your conflict handling ability by taking a good look at this style and increasing your ability to use it.
In Harmonizing, you give highest priority to the relationship, including setting aside your own preferences, in order to please the other person and keep the relationship strong. Although it's not the answer for all circumstances, Harmonizing is wise, indeed, necessary at times. For example:
- When it's clear that the other person cares a great deal more about getting their preferences than do you.
- When insisting on your own preferences will damage relationships that are important to you.
- To maintain a balance of give-and-take in a long-term partnerships. If one partner feels that he or she is forced to Harmonize a great deal more than the other, resentment will enter the relationship. Using a Harmonizing response on issues that are not so important to you is a wise way to maintain a balance. If your partner is someone who natually harmonizes a lot, you might be due for a conversation about how that person feels about frequently having to accept your preferences.
- Thoughtfulness, flexibility, and responsiveness to the wishes of the other are essential to any long-term relationship. Harmonizing is about more than a response to disagreement; it shows awareness of another person and a desire to make that person feel valued and respected. A good dose of Harmonizing awareness is a real gift to the joyfulness of a long-term relationship.
The styles you scored high in are valuable and you should continue to use them in settings right for them. But you may wish to experiment with getting more comfortable with Harmonizing, especially in relationships you really care about or where relationships have been difficult.
Your Storm Shift is 3, Which is Just Big Enough to Pay Attention to It
Your scores in Calm reflect your behavior in dealing with differences when anger and frustration are low. Your scores in Storm reflect your behavior when things are not going as you wish, when you are frustrated and probably angry. Your "Storm Shift" is the change in your behavior from Calm to Storm. As a general principle, the bigger your Storm Shift, the more attention you should pay to it, for a large Storm Shift means that other people are probably surprised, shocked, or hurt by unexpected changes in your behavior. In your case, your Storm Shift of 3 points in the Harmonizing style is moderate, just big enough that you may benefit from the suggestions on the Riverhouse website about Weathering the Storm Shift.
For Further Study
There are numerous resources on the Riverhouse ePress site for further study:
A set of principles and suggested Learning Activities to assist in understanding your scores.
Guideline for Weathering the Storm Shift, a special concern if you have a large shift from Calm to Storm in any of your leading styles.