If you want to know what makes a person tick find out what they fear the most. Research tells us we will put more energy in avoiding what we fear than going after what we really want. Many times when we are in conflict with someone it stems from having one or more fears pushed to the limit. When this happens we either lash out, go passive aggressive, run, or shutdown. None of which are the best responses to managing a conflicting situation.
The key to avoiding conflict with your opposite is knowing what you fear. Once you are aware of this then you can move on to finding the best ways to respond to those challenging interactions. Healthy doses of conflict in the workplace are the desired optimal results. This may sound strange at first but eliminating all conflict isn’t how you become stronger. It’s quite the opposite. My desire is to help you armor with understanding what makes you tick.
The first step to understanding is awareness of your own communication styles. There are four predominant communication styles: Dominant, Influencer, Steady, and Compliant. As you might have guessed each of these styles have their own specific fears and desires. Something even more interesting is that each of these styles has an opposite. For the Dominants its opposite style is Steady and visa versa. And for the Influencers its opposite style is Compliant and visa versa.
Knowing this is helpful in two ways. The first is understanding your own style so that you can harness your own fears and desires. Secondly the idea is to give you perspective on other styles especially your opposites personally fears and desires. Here is the break down of the four communication styles fears and desires.
Fear: being taken advantage of
Desire: is for results
Fear: loss of security
Desire: is to have a plan
Fear: social rejection
Desire: is to have an experience
Fear: criticism of their work
Desire: is to attain data
Seems fairly simple to digest and I can assume if you’re anything like me you already know which of the above you relate to the most. The tricky thing about behaviors is that we assume everyone ought to think and behave as we do. So when someone presses our fear button things like panic, offense, anger, and anxiety tend to flair up in a reactive nature. The perks to knowing what your fear is, is being ridiculously in control of how you react to them. So when I encounter my opposite I know how to tame the angst.
We may not be able to control how others respond or behave but we do have a say on the outcomes. There are specific things to keep in mind when dealing with your opposite that may help eliminate some of the dread and even prevent certain squabbles from occurring. Once you grasp your style then its time to elevate your emotional intelligence by engage your interpersonal skills. Here are some tips on dealing with your opposite.
Tip on dealing with opposite: Remember that Steady needs time to think things through. When they don’t answer you right away doesn’t mean there hiding anything. The best way to get results is to set realistic deadlines and help them prioritize what is the most important. Be open to answering their “why” and “how” questions in order to get optimal results.
Tip on dealing with opposite: Remember Dominants needs the highlights not the whole story or the reasons why. Do not present anything to them that you’re not ready to put into action. They are wired to make things happen and may not sense your discomfort with the pace, so speak up when things are moving to fast.
Tip on dealing with opposite: Remember that Compliant leans towards being a perfectionist and may ask questions to attain details they think are essential to complete the task. Be honest with them and do not bluff if you do not have the answer. You will win their respect when you give deliver them accurate and on time information
Tip on dealing with opposite: Remember that Influencer is sensitive to harsh criticism. A little warmth goes a long way with them. The best tip is praise. Praise means affirming behaviors you want to see repeated. Be careful not to harp to hard on their shortcomings or you will lose ground and may not be able to recover it.
It's always easier said than done, but if you keep applying what you know the impact of your actions will blow you away. There would be less tension between you and your colleague, workflow will increase and who knows you may even stop referring to them as the bain of your existence. If there ever was a scientific way to help reduce and even avoid conflict with your opposite then it's with the information above. It takes a willingness to step back and evaluate your own fears and desires as well as those of others, and learn to adjust your style to allow for optimal outcomes that create a healthy workplace vibe.