When unhappy in a relationship, do you try to make things work, confront your partner, or kind of gradually back off? The answer depends on what conflict management style you tend to use the most, and that says a lot about you. Whether it’s an abusive boss or a tactless friend, unpleasant situations seem to pop up every so often. The question is not whether or not you will have to deal with these challenges but how you manage them. Oftentimes we react without giving much thought to how it might affect our future, but, as you will see, your habitual way of managing conflicts may shape the outcomes in your life.
The test below is designed to give you an insight into your preferred strategy on the scale of 0 to 100. The three conflict management strategies we are going to look at are:
- confrontation (or aggression).
If you are interested in this subject, you may want to take another test on this site where we go into more details about five conflict resolution styles. You can find it here. The test begins:
If there is something that needs to be clarified with your spouse but your spouse is angry with you, how would you deal with the situation?
try to calm your spouse first, then discuss the issue at hand;
avoid any discussion until your spouse calms down;
become aggressive as well.
When someone tries to humiliate you, your way of coping is to…
be patient so that it doesn’t affect the outcome of whatever you were trying to do;
avoid any future contact with that person;
When it comes to conflict resolution, how would you describe yourself:
I am a peaceful and cooperative person;
I tend to avoid direct confrontation and uncomfortable conversations;
I am very open and straightforward.
If one of your friends keeps saying things that humiliate you or undermine your self-esteem, you
ignore it — they are your friend after all;
begin to avoid this person;
defend yourself every time.
Thinking about your opponents / enemies / critics / offenders, what kind of scenarios do you play in your mind?
looking for ways to to turn them into my friends / supporters;
thinking of ways to ensure that I will never have to deal with them again;
looking for ways to prove them wrong and / or punish them.
If your life partner is being pushy in order to force you help them get what they want (e.g, money, possessions, career help, introducing them to someone important), you…
give them what they want;
won’t give them any definite answers until they calm down and behave themselves;
make it clear that this is not going to work.
During the conflict, when the other person doesn’t make any effort to understand your point of view, your strategy is to…
keep explaining them your perspective until they see it;
interrupt the conversation because it’s pointless;
get angry and aggressive.
When someone keeps asking you unpleasant questions about things you would rather not talk about, your reaction is to…
reply all questions in a calm manner;
not to give any definite answers;
confront that person and force them to stop.
If defending your interests may put you at odds with someone who you generally like and respect, your strategy is to…
find a compromise;
drop your claim for the sake of saving the relationship with that person;
keep demanding what you believe should be yours.
When dealing with an abusive boss or supervisor, you
try to be patient and cooperative in order to achieve your goals;
minimize any contact;
openly resist and defend your interests.
Your result will appear here.
If peace is your preferred strategy of dealing with conflicts, you are likely to
- use your intellectual reasoning to neutralize any negative emotions,
- repress your ego in order to reach your goals,
- in some cases, you choose to give up on some of your goals and dreams for the sake of saving good relationships.
Different people may favor this strategy for different reasons. For some it is a result of life experience and accumulated wisdom; life taught them that it is better to live in peace in harmony. But then there are others who choose this strategy because of their weak willpower and fear of confrontation.
If your preferred conflict management style is avoidance, you are likely to
- avoid any direct confrontations and wait until things get sorted on their own,
- avoid uncomfortable conversations and prefer to deliver bad news indirectly (e.g., asking others to do that for you or in a form of a letter or email, perhaps even over the phone),
- gradually back off from unhappy relationships without ever explaining anything.
Because you don’t try to prove anything to anyone and focus on saving your own emotional energy, this style may be very effective at times. On the other hand, your refusal to deal with your problems may waste a lot of time and cause unnecessary pain to others.
If your strategy of choice is confrontation, you are likely to
- deal with the problems as soon as they appear,
- clearly communicate your expectations,
- demand what you believe should be yours regardless of circumstances.
Although this style of managing conflicts is highly effective, it may come at the cost of broken relationships. While you may think of yourself as someone very open and straightforward, others may see you as aggressive and blunt. While it’s up to you to decide whether someone’s opinion is more important than the outcome of your goal, it is probably wise to consider using a combination of all three strategies instead of just one.