Me & Difficult Conversations

Upon taking the Poynter News U Course, Dealing with Difficult Conversations, I learned about my default tendencies to handle conflict. I also learned when those default tendencies are useful and when to adapt and take advantage of other conflict management styles.

Conflict is unavoidable in life, although some try their hardest to do so. So I believe it is quite beneficial to handle it tactfully. This means coming into the conversation prepared as well leaving the conversation with the most positive out come possible no matter how negative the conversation may have begun. This course also taught when one should ease the person into the topic versus when it is more beneficial to start with the bad news.

After taking a short conflict personality quiz I learned that favor two different conflict management styles: competition as well as accommodation. My competitive tendencies are best utilized when I need to stand up for an issue of great importance that means a lot to me. However overusing this style of conflict management for remedial problems makes you look like an overaggressive bully. Accommodation however is very useful for dealing with someone in authority as well as preserving relationships. Still, you have to know when to take a stand and not allow others as well as yourself to walked over. These are just the style that I have tendencies for, there are many others:

Compromise – Compromise works when a decision has to be made in a hurry, the other side seems willing, and we all feel good about taking less than we wanted. It is a good “backup” style. But if we approach every conflict thinking “compromise,” we may miss chances for creative resolution that gets all parties what they want.

Collaboration – Collaboration works when the parties really value a partnership and are willing to take time to keep asking each other good questions about goals, needs and interests. When done properly, collaboration forges strong bonds. But it must be genuine, not manipulative, and the relationship should be worth the investment of time.

Avoidance – Avoidance works when the other individual is dangerous or all but impossible to work with. It is a self-preservation tactic that keeps us safe, but also encourages bullies. It can lead to miserable working conditions or the loss of good people who simply choose to work elsewhere. Conflict avoidance can cause serious problems in the workplace.

So, it is my goal to effectively balance both of my default styles to more effectively handle difficult conversations. I also will make a significant effort to incorporate the other  conflict management styles that this course addresses.


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