Viewing entries tagged

Type and Conflict


Type and Conflict

Conflict is inevitable. Every time two or more people come together, agendas and needs will differ. How do you deal with conflict? Is there one best way to fix things?

The short answer is, no, there isn't. How you deal with any conflict will always depend on several factors, e.g. how important the issue is to you, how important the relationship is to you, what the surrounding circumstances are, and many of those aspects are impacted by your type preferences.

Thomas-Kilman Indicator

Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilman developed and introduced their conflict mode instrument (TKI) to help people become aware of five different "modes", or conflict management approaches. A number of forced choice questions identify how often we rely on the different modes, and the subsequent report provides questions and suggestions to help avoid over- and under-use of any one mode.

Here's an overview of the modes from the TKI website:


Access and Preference

The first point to become aware of is that all of us have access to all five modes - we just may prefer one of them and make it our go-to. Since every mode has its uses, chances are, you'll solve conflicts a good amount of times sticking to only your preferred approach. Even a broken clock shows the right time twice a day, right? If you want to up your effectiveness a notch, let's look at how conflict mode awareness can help:


Let's start with the top-left corner: if we're asserting ourselves, making sure our needs get met, we're dealing with conflict by competing. Competing to be right, competing to have our way, competing to win. The issue, in this case, is more important to us than the relationship with our conflict partner.


When the relationship and cooperation are more important, we may be more prone to move to the lower-right hand corner and accommodate. Maybe the other person's needs are more important to us than our own, maybe we're not that adamant about the issue, maybe we need to have a good relationship with this person.


Compromising would be meeting in the middle. The issues is as important as the relationship, and we want to resolve the conflict and figure out a solution. Sounds good, isn't workable in the long run though. According to Kilman, nobody getting their needs met fully simply isn't a long-term solution, because eventually people will check out. In other words, we all need to win sometime.


When we're low on assertiveness and cooperation, we're avoiding. This has its uses when there's no time to figure out what is needed, when stress is high, or when cards aren't openly put on the table and needs aren't clear.


When assertiveness and cooperation are high, we're collaborating. Again - sounds great, but it's easier said than done, because collaborating only works in a certain set of circumstances. The issue has to be complex enough to be worked at from different angles, and people's needs have to be transparent.

What's your style?

Let's do an exercise - can you think of situations where you tend to avoid dealing with the conflict? Who is that with? What are the circumstances? How do you feel about that relationship and that issue? Have you given up and mentally checked out yet? What would it take for you to have the courage and address the issue that you've been avoiding? What would have to happen for you to dare and speak up for your needs?

Conflict styles and Type preferences

Bringing personality type into the mix, it is easy to assume that people with a Thinking preference (decision-making by objective and logical analysis) are more comfortable asserting themselves than people with a Feeling preference (decision-making by subjective values and empathy), because for people with a T preference, it's often more about the issue, not the relationship. It's business, not personal. We can disagree and yell at one another at a meeting and then go for lunch.

For people with an F preference, accommodating may come easier, as it's a short-term solution to maintain harmony and appease the other. There's a problem if we give up on our own needs, because we're expecting our opponent will reciprocate and try to please us in return at another time. Always choosing to accommodate is a sure way to foster resentment and hidden expectations the other will not be able to meet.

Apply it

Now that you have an awareness of the five different modes, I invite you to consciously pay attention to your conflict management style. Which mode is your default? Is it always effective? Would you be able to stop competing to build credit in the emotional bank account of your significant other if you give in to those items that aren't high on your priority list? Can you find a way out of the accommodating corner to practice stating your own needs? Especially in romantic relationships, men and women can't read each other's minds, and open communication is essential to clear the air and resolve lingering conflicts. Read more about that in another article, Happily Ever After.

Thanks for leaving a comment below!

Image by Robert Dawson, Flickr, Creative Commons License.


"Divorce Piggy Bank"


"Divorce Piggy Bank"

This is a post I found in the Psychology Today blogs, written by Sam Marguiles PhD, Esq.Sam has been active in mediation for thirty years. He has written three books, numerous articles and has taught and consulted throughout the USA. I am re-posting the following with his permission, and will share here today that I owe about $780 for last week. You?

Having mediated thousands of divorces I have acquired some knowledge over the years of what acts and omissions reliably contribute to divorce.

I have also learned that marriages generally don't break over a specific event but rather erode over time as spouses fail to feed the marriage what it needs to thrive. I also know that most divorces are expensive and that is common for each lawyer to ask for a retainer of $3,000 to $5,000. So this post is designed to help you finance your divorce gradually as you engage in those behaviors that slowly damage and eventually destroy your marriage.

Here is what you should do. First, buy a good size piggy bank. Every time you commit one of the acts listed below, or anytime your spouse commits one, you deposit the required amount in your piggy bank. This way, by the time you need a retainer you will have saved it. You will want to count the money in your piggy bank once a year because it may serve as a guide to how close you are to divorce. Be sure to share this data with your spouse.

  • Go to bed angry with your spouse. $3.
  • Spend an entire day without expressing affection or praising your spouse. $3.
  • Make a sarcastic comment to your spouse. $5.
  • Raise your voice in anger to your spouse. $3.
  • Do the above and fail to apologize. $5.
  • Dismiss as unimportant an issue raised by your spouse. $7.
  • Install a TV in the kitchen. $20.
  • Watch TV while eating together. $10.
  • Spend a night in bed with your spouse and make no gesture of affection such as a kiss or caress. $5.
  • Refuse a request from your spouse for sex for the second time in a row unless you have a note from your doctor. $7.
  • Refuse a request from your spouse for sex for the fifth time in a row unless you have a note from your mother. $30.
  • Roll your eyes at something said by your spouse. $5.
  • Refuse a request to go to counseling with your spouse. $100. ( almost 100% predictive of divorce.)
  • Spend a year and not take a vacation with your spouse while leaving the children home. $25.
  • Schedule so many activities for your children that you leave no time for your marriage. Each week pay: $5.
  • Be upset with your spouse and not raise it because you believe it pointless to discuss it. $10.
  • When your spouse raises an issue stonewall and refuse to discuss it. $50.
  • You fail to learn what actions by you bring pleasure to your spouse. $50.
  • (Being made aware in due time to correct behavior: priceless - added by Dee.)

Although this list is by no means exhaustive it represents a good sample. Readers are invited and requested to add to the list.

Image by Die Gruenen Osterreich, Flickr, Creative Commons License.



Happily ever after

A couple of months ago I set up an online-questionnaire about the fighting habits of couples. Here's what you guys have shared: The majority of respondents is in a relationship or married (89 %) and has been in that relationship for the last four to 15 years (56 %). In their relationship, almost half can talk about anything and everything (45 %), and about a quarter need their little secrets (23 %). A fight is described as an argument with raised voices (57 %), a disagreement where neither party concedes (29 %) and the termination of communication or ignoring each other (14 %).

As for what the fights are about, lack of communication tops the list with 19 %, followed by issues with the family or in-laws and too little space (10 % each). Hobbies, chores, money, working hours, punctuality, space, ex-partners and friends also figure equally with 5 %, whereas fights about sexual matters, children and the TV-remote appear to be absent.

43 % of the couples fight about once a month for the duration of about a day. More frequent fights (once a day / once a week) tend to last about one hour (29 %). Almost 15 % reported to have "recycled" the same fight for years. For 57 %, a subject is resolved after fighting about it two to four times, for the remaining 43 %, the same topic has been fought over 10 times or more.

Fights are mainly being executed in a fair fashion or as a heated debate (43 % and 29 % respectively). Rational discussion and lots of drama both received 14 % of the votes. In any case, fighting seems to be a mainly private matter as 43 % responded they would never be caught fighting in public, and a further 29 % said only their closest friends would notice.

Fights end when all points have been discussed thoroughly for 57 %. For the remaining 43 % things simply fizzle out and go back to normal. The suggestions of putting an end to a fight by apologies, giving in or finding compromises have not been confirmed.

The following third part where I inquired about the feelings you experience pre-, during and post-fight has only been completed by a fraction respondents, so it's difficult to view them as representative. As I've not received any feedback, I'm assuming a) there were technical difficulties in reaching the third page or b) the questionnaire was perceived as too long.

After some deliberation I have decided to close this questionnaire now. I will revisit the idea, however, and hopefully come up with a version that may be equally as revealing, but more concise.

Thank you ever so much for your participation and your helpful comments. I'm glad it made some of you more aware of your behaviour during fights with your partner, as you've so nicely commented. To the gentleman who suggested for his wife to take the questionnaire and compare answers: I hope she did and you two were able to take some time to look at both your perspectives. Thinking and talking about how you fight is a fantastic opportunity to increase awareness of the other person as well as yourself, and that in itself will increase your understanding for one another and most likely lessen the blow and shorten the next argument you may encounter.

If you'd like to have a look at the questionnaire, send me an email and I'll forward it to you to go over in your own time. Feel free to contact me for any other question, comment or suggestion you may have!

Thanks again, til next time! If you liked this post, please share it: add to Add to Blinkslist add to furl Digg it add to ma.gnolia Stumble It! add to simpy seed the vine TailRank post to facebook




As you may recall, I published a survey a few weeks ago about how couples fight. You can find a link on the right-hand navigation of this blog. I would like to thank those of you who have participated, your cooperation is greatly appreciated!

There's already some interesting insights, but the sample of answers is not quite representative yet. Also, I saw that respondents did not answer all questions. In order to evaluate the responses properly, it is essential that the entire questionnaire be filled out, and not just the first page giving general information. If you encounter a problem accessing pages two and three, please let me know.

This survey is now closed. Please find the results in this post.

Again, thank you very much for your help!

Til then, take care!

If you liked this post, please share it: add to Add to Blinkslist add to furl Digg it add to ma.gnolia Stumble It! add to simpy seed the vine TailRank post to facebook




If you're alive, you've had 'em. Starting with you screaming as a baby and your mother not feeding you fast enough (conflict of interest - she was more interested in sleeping, perhaps), then the toys your sandbox buddy wouldn't share (conflict of power - whoever has the toy is boss, and she likes being boss), the list goes on and on.

The interesting thing in my opinion is how dealing with conflicts shapes us as a person. We're so focused on our needs as a child that we rarely make compromises willingly - we simply have to because we just don't get our way all the time. So, we learn to cope with setbacks and how to lose some of our battles more or less gracefully. When you think back to your own childhood, what do you remember about conflicts and how you dealt with them? Which strategies did you employ in order to get your way, and are some of them still working for you today?

What about conflicts and fights in school, were you often cited into the headmaster's office? Have you ever been afraid of standing up for what you believe in because it went against the common assumption, and you didn't want to face the disapproving stare of your classmates? Are you experiencing the same situations in your worklife today?

Personally, I find conflicts and fighting within couples, in relationships, among life-partners most interesting at the moment. Of course there are other fascinating aspects to conflict, such as the intrapersonal ones, the group phenomenon, and of course conflicts on an international scale, and I might get back to those at a later date. But for now I'm going to keep this post short and sweet, because I'd like to ask you for a favour and help me with this survey. It's called "Happily ever after?" and I am interested in finding out how couples fight, about which topics, how they deal, and how they feel about it all.*

From these findings I hope to be able to extrapolate the strategies that most effectively aid in making any personal conflict situation the least painful and as productive as possible. This survey consists of 20 questions, on the first page there's six about you; on the second page you find nine about the actual fighting process; on the third page I've included five questions about feelings and strategies, and then there's one final page with a request for feedback about the survey itself.

How are you and your partner doing it? Where's the line between compromising and giving up? I look forward to your input and will share the findings with you after I get a representative sample of completed questionnaires.

*This survey is now closed. Please find the results in this post, Happily Ever After.

Thank you for your help, and til next time!

If you liked this post, please share it: add to Add to Blinkslist add to furl Digg it add to ma.gnolia Stumble It! add to simpy seed the vine post to facebook