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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Conflict style

Went to a terrific workshop today, partly on conflict styles. I took a short assessment survey (Thomas-Kilmann) and came out equal parts "competitive" and "compromising."

In the conversation that we had after we figured our scores, I objected to the term "competitive" - I really don't think my motivation for sticking to my guns has anything to do with "winning" in the competition sense.

Three things: 1) If I'm spending my very precious time and energy on a committee, then I'm not just there to rubber stamp other people's ideas - I have my own views and I came to express them. Even if it's a one-on-one interaction, I feel the same way - if I'm investing myself, then I'm bringing the real me to the conversation. 2) If I have an opinion, it's usually because I've considered the issue(s) and I think I have valid points that accompany whatever conclusion I've reached. 3) It matters. Whatever "it" is. Lives will be affected. Often, money will be spent. It's not esoteric or abstract to me - I'm always almost painfully aware of the implications of whatever is being discussed or decided, and therefore I feel strongly about what I'm advocating for.

Of course I think I'm "right," but it's more than that - I trust that I've soberly and seriously considered whatever the decision is and I'm convinced that I have good reasons for my choices. Furthermore, I can clearly see that others have often not comprehensively considered the situation, they don't have the big picture and/or they haven't bothered to understand the underlying issues. I'm often just more thorough than others, so I feel justified in being assertive about my perspective.

Obviously, that's frequently annoying to others and often perceived as arrogant. But I don't know how I can possibly back down when I really believe that I'm standing up for what's best and that I'm the most prepared and knowledgeable and diligent person in the interaction.

So I would prefer a different label - "competitive" leaves the wrong impression. "Principled" would be better. Or even "convinced" or "determined." Something like that.



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