QUESTION 7 BEFORE YOU WORK TOGETHER: CONFLICT STYLE
The seventh question on my list of things to talk about before going into business or starting a project together is:
What is your approach to conflict?
(See post #1 in this series here: https://leighchandler.com/questions-to-ask-before-you-work-together)
Just like with the “strengths and weaknesses” question, honesty is key here. We all want to believe that we are great problem solvers, and most of us have the knowledge and skills to become great problem solvers. But before you talk about how you want to resolve your conflicts, explore the way you actually resolve conflicts. No one wants to admit that their conflict resolution style is yelling, avoidance, or complaining to other people. But this is something to get out into the open so you can start talking about how you want to resolve disputes with each other.
Ask yourself if you have a good day/bad day conflict style – are you a great problem solver when you’ve had sleep, food, and a good morning, but a screamer when you’re feeling stressed or run down? That’s a thing to talk about.
Explore differences in conflict styles. Two passionate arguers who raise their voices easily and then quickly forgive might work well together without much adjustment… but if one of you is quiet and sensitive, you both probably need to adapt a bit. If one of you likes to discuss problems early and often, while the other leans toward only raising really big issues, you could each end up putting the wrong level of importance on issues that the other person brings up. The bottom line is, don’t assume that your way of dealing with conflict is everyone’s way.
Tip: We all have the ability to change, so don’t get stuck in a “this is just how I am/they are” mindset. A yeller can learn not to yell at people. An avoider can learn to speak up. Etc.