When it comes to dealing effectively with conflict situations, knowing about your own conflict style will come as a great help. Everybody reacts differently to conflict. Basically, how we react to conflict, what triggers conflict, and what constitutes vulnerable areas to could lead to conflict depends very much on a person’s history and his/her formative experiences in childhood. For example, growing up in a family where conflict often led to violence might cause a child to grow up dealing with conflict either by acting violently or by avoiding it altogether.
To understand your very personal response in situations of conflict, you need to identify first whether you blame, attack, or avoid the other? Do you get fearful and freeze? Do you get angry but don’t show it? Do you withdraw and get depressed, or do you try hard to understand the other? Then take a moment and reflect on your past experiences. Think back to a conflict situation and notice how you feel. Then use that feeling as a bridge into your past and observe where you end up.
Where did you learn to respond the way you do? Often we ‘learn’ these response patterns as children. What were the childhood situations that shaped your way of dealing with conflict? Look with compassion at the younger you that has learnt to cope in the particular way you do.
Of course, children are usually less resourceful and certainly less powerful than adults. A response pattern learnt in childhood is in most cases not effective for dealing as an adult with conflict in the adult world. Compassion with the younger you will pave the way for you to change and deal differently and more effectively with conflict!